Column

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

The Death of Country Music: Natural Cause or Homicide

I agree. There are good songs/sounds today and always will be- whether they're in the mainstream or not. Since the rural roots from which Country music sprang are diminshed though, we're left largely with nostalgia or rock hybrids. Not that some aren't good, but on percentage....

I don't suppose country music will contain questions like, "How can I find a good handyman for my place in the country?" will it. Country just ain't what it usta be. Thanks for a great piece, Ed.  I ordered the book.....

 

Sounds like a great read...nice Broadside Ed...thoughtful...

By the way, I bought the book...and the videos/songs you posted here are all the real deal...thanks Ed....

Grand piece. Always a pleasure to learn from your writing. 

Thanks Ed for another interesting and informative post. What I found most surprising was that it was New York record label executives that got Nashville to add those annoying and mellifluous strings to their records. I always thought that was Nashville's sin. But come to think of it, a lot of pop-rock songs in that era did have those strings too. And even into the early 70s as evidenced by those reissues of "Sugarman" Sixto Rodriguez'a great albums in which many songs are almost ruined by said strings.

Streaming, ick.  Books and vinyl are the best.  And no, I'm not a luddite.  Well, not much.

Many just follow and believe what the media tells them is good, great, new and "in" while others seek their own tastes and talent that better suits their pallet.  Traditional country exists and it is there in great abundance.  Pedal Steel, twang, heart wrenching lyrics, songs of life and everything that made the Country Music of past generations wonderful and great.  Part of what turns me off to today's so-called "country music" are the dumbed down lyrics, lack of any attempt to make the lyrics rhyme or fit the beat, and over machined production.  It isn't natural or human any more.  So, much like my hours spent in the Imports Section of record stores during the Disco era (I disliked Disco), I found a whole new world of music that appealed to myself.  I met others there searching the same bins in search of something different yet comforting and fitting.  Today, thanks in large  part to the Internet, I find myself seeking those outlets where real country music still exists.  I attend events where it exists and it does exist with a world of variety and talent that Nashville and the lame stream media would never even touch.  I got rid of the lame stream media and not the music I enjoy.

You lose a little credibility by misnaming "Murder On Music Row," but man you are right on the money. I think there's maybe 5 consistent contemporary country singers that I even bother with. Americana is where it's at. 

Would love to place the blame on my editor and proofreader, but you're right...my mistake on 16th Ave. Unlike print media, it's easily been fixed. Thanks for catching it.

Part 2? The Death of R&B: Natural Cause or Homicide. Thanks for the read EE.

Yeah...I ran this over on my Facebook page Hal: The Real Easy Ed. As the shock begins to settle, I think I'll probably have to sit down, gather my thoughts and post something here at ND. Obviously, it's been a tough couple of days, what with fielding calls from the media and such.

But here's a question you may have the answer to: 

I can't recall when I first brought up the topic here, but I know it was a comment to (I think) a Grant Alden post. The new ND wiped out the history when they migrated from Ning, but I sure wish I could track it down. Any idea? Maybe Will or one of the Jacks will know. 

By the way, I gently broke the news to Gillian. Her reply? "Where will we go on our date now that the 4:30 early bird dinner is dead?"

 

I don't recall when the clams hit the fan, Ed.  But I did stumble across this email from Kyla dated Monday, February 23, 2009.

Dear No Depression Founder-

I wanted to let you know that we are planning to launch a No Depression community web site on Friday. The new site will give you an opportunity to share your thoughts, photos, videos, and music with other members. Think of it as your roots music playground!  Start a discussion in the forum, write a blog post about a great show you've seen or a new album you picked up, share photos from a recent festival, invite your friends - the more, the merrier!

Kyla

 

That so friggin' great. I think my very first post was two weeks later. Roots music playground...what a great concept. Can I just say for the record, I miss Kyla even more than I miss Grant. 

Pretty sure I first logged on that September or October...

Am not sure I accept the premise that country music is dead.  Depends where you are looking for it. Metaphorically speaking most of the interesting things in life are found well off the interstate, you have to seek them out either purposely or because you are meandering and enjoying the trip. All musical genres have an ebb and flow to them, fertile creative periods and dormant or unfortunate diversions and everything in between.. But over time I think timeless things are inevitably found by the next generation and periodically reinvented.  Take the name of this website for example, the original song of that name and Uncle Tupelo's influence in the early 90's. 

I heard the call of the clam tonight and came here, been awhile again. Had a hugely successful Heartland show in Milwaukee* the day after you published this; a bunch of kids (to me, alright not really kids kids) who were playing the totally real thang. None of them grew up on the farm, that I know of. Gram Parsons had his trust fund and look what he started (and yes there can be misery in money, so... is misery the answer?). I miss you guys and I miss the community, and yes Kyla. Can't believe I used to complain to her about ning! Anyway, I think your point here is well taken, and true. But whatever the logical opposite is (or whatever, was never good at that the kind of stuff), well, I've booked so many country acts in the past nine years, and in three cities again this year, to at least partially disprove it. But what a fine article, one to which it is a joy to respond. Until next time, I remain, Sound As Ever, Will James    * If interested, http://shepherdexpress.com/article-28331-gram-parsons-70th-birthday-bash-a-linneman%E2%80%99s-riverwest-inn.html

The true origin of Howard Johnson's and fried clam strips...

 

Howard Johnson is right!

 

Gabby Johnson: The Sheriff is near!  

 

I read Dawidoff's book when it first came out.  The chapter on Merle Haggard and Iris DeMent led directly to my becoming a huge Iris fan.  I think it's one of the better books about country music that I've read, and it still holds up today, for the most part.  I'm still hopeful about the future of country and roots music, if not quite as naive as I was back then.  Ed, I'm not sure the burden of your essay, as suggested by the title, really got resolved here.  As bleak as things sound right now, I'm just not convinced country music is dead or ever can really die.  

I have to disagree with the analysis that the demographics of America is what killed country music. It is actually what created country music in the first place. The following will be a simplification. Non-commercial country music "always" existed in the rural areas. Commercial (on the radio) country music comes into being when America (roughly during the middle third of the 20th century) became more city than country (urban than rural). The foundation of country music is of those living in the cities pining for the life they left behind. This may be similar to the blues created in urban areas like Chicago after/during the Great Migration. After several generations of more people living in the cities, that pining for home loses it power but when expressed eloquently, it will never lose its power but, maybe, not be the dominant vehicle. As the article states, the vehicle of rap/hip-hop music may be the current favorite. 

What a great article!  Maybe a nod to Larry Cordle and Larry Shell, who wrote "Murder on Music Row" should be mentioned?  There is the interesting back story on the liner notes on the CD. Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, title Murder on Music Row.  

In my aged, abused mind the eptiome of the Death of Country Music is the apparent demise of The Marty Stuart Show on RFDTV. Staurt goes way back and many of his guest artists go back even further. I've been recording as many of the old re-runs now on RFDTV as I can. Other than the (more and more) ocassional ACL show, where can you find Iris DeMent???

Good on ya, Marty, and I do hope you'll be back. If not, many thanks...

"To call today's mainstream country music county at all is a misnomer. Hot Country is really pop music for a prospering, mostly conservative white middle class."
 

I can tell the book is 20 years old from the term "Hot Country".   I think 80's country music was more pop oriented when Eddie Rabbitt and Alabama were in their heydays.   But in the 90's when "Hot Country" came around, country was already cleaving some of the 80's "Rock" listeners away due to Garth Brooks.   I've noticed a lot of 80's "rockers" who listened to the overly produced sounds of Journey, REO Speedwagon, 38 Special and that ilk are now "Country" fans.       

   

Many of the bands I book that are solid country come from a punk background, now in their thirties or more.