I’ve said before that I don’t want to be labeled as a purist. Heck, I just published a piece where I confessed some pop-country music that I find enjoyable. That being said, there’s one argument in particular that makes my skin crawl when I hear it. We all know that, whether or not the music could be classified as good or bad, a lot of the music being churned out in mainstream country music isn’t actually country. Either that or it could barely be classified as such.
One argument that I see brought up time and time again when people defend certain songs is, “sure, it’s not country, but what exactly is today”? No, no, no, no……..no. Again, we’re not necessarily judging any quality yet, as I believe that’s something that’s completely subjective, but adopting a whole “monkey see, monkey do” attitude to defend the country goal posts being pushed farther and farther away is not a valid argument in my opinion.
For starters, even though the argument is not good, it does hold some truth value. Certain music does sound better, no, “more country” (and we are more willing to forgive it) when judged against other songs, artists, albums, or whatever. It might sound like a small step towards correcting the direction the ship is heading in, so to say. That said, it’s not the best example to use, and to exemplify that, I’m going to give my own analogy.
Suppose we have a teacher in charge of controlling a classroom of children. We’ll call these children little country artists in the making. Suppose we then say that this teacher leaves the classroom to get a glass of water, leaving the children all by themselves. This portion of the argument isn’t analogus with anything to do in country music, but I insert it here just for the sake of the argument.
When the teacher returns, the teacher finds that the classroom is an absolute mess and that the kids have gone wild. Textbooks are trashed and torn apart everywhere, the curtains have been torn down. There are some kids jumping on the desks (and subsequently breaking them) while some kids decided to leave and hijack some cars and go all Grand Theft Auto on the place. When the students are all rounded back up (how is not important), the teacher scolds each and every one of them. It sounds natural, right? Little Bobby was caught breaking about three of the desks, and little Suzie stuck a worm down Joey’s back. All of the students are scolded as necessary, however there’s one student that didn’t do as much damage as the other students. Little Jimmy merely draw some pictures on the wall. Hey, it’s just crayon, it can be washed off, no problem.
But is Little Jimmy excused just because his actions weren’t as offensive as the other student’s? We surely wouldn’t say so. The students aren’t acting right at all. Granted, one might counter-object by stating that I’m trying to give an example of how country artists SHOULD act (or should sound, rather), and I’m not. I’m just trying to say how things can be taken a little too far sometimes.
No, country music isn’t quite as chaotic as the scene I just described, but it does (I think) show how we shouldn’t excuse certain artists based on that one particular argument. I’m not even necessarily saying I’m someone who does think the genre is going to hell. Again, this particular argument is just one that I find to be incredibly weak. There’s a place for everyone at the table in my book, but don’t forget what the genre was built upon. Thankfully we have artists out there providing that particular seat at the table.