Discussion

Do You Remember "New Traditionalism" Country?

I had my iPod on shuffle the other day and a Patty Loveless song from the late-80’s came on.  As I was listening, I realized how much country music had changed for the worse since then and how important the “New Traditionalism” movement of the 1980’s was in taking the genre back to its roots. 

 I first ran across the style on commercial radio in the mid-80’s after getting bored with album-oriented rock but still needing a rock and roll feel to offset the bluegrass I was listening to on public radio.  Alt country and genre-busting jam band music had not been developed.

I’m no expert on the genre but it seems like the movement began around 1981 when Ricky Skaggs brought a bluegrass feel to country music and George Strait merged Western Swing with country. In late-1984 a frustrated Reba McEntire decided to buck the record labels by going back to a basic honky-tonk sound.

Many great artists followed including Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, Alan Jackson, John Anderson, Patty Loveless, Clint Black, and early Garth Brooks.  I guess the beginning of the end came when Garth decided to bring rock technology into the big arena sound.

Anyway, while the run was short, it was good to replace the orchestra strings and syrupy background voices of the Nashville Sound (or “countrypolitan”-what a stupid name) with the kicking fiddles and steel guitar sound that was part of your parents’ country.  At the same time eliminating the nasal voices and bringing in some rock music influences helped modernize the old sound. 

James Hand is a good shout for  "keeping it real" , a great artist.

Same guilty pleasures Terry, sure beats whatever that stuff is today. Thanks on the numbers.

  Will, I got the answer to that  'who's first' question....You are, old man!   I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now....one of my guilty country pleasures is 60/70's country songs like "Teddy Bear,"Big Joe and Phantom 309" any of the talking songs...full syrup...I like mine maple!!   

Great news, Will, about the Gram numbers! 

I guess my question would be, how young are you? Or else, how old am I? (Gram Parsons, Michael Nesmith, Rick Nelson, oh God, please let's not start the who's first again!) And some of that syrupy country I'll take over today's co-called any day; at least it was still country. Yep, there was that "Great Cred Threat" but it was pretty short lived in the 80s.

Btw, thanks to a little push from Polly Parsons' FB page, the List of Supporters (not Petition) to Induct Gram Parsons Into the Country Music Hall of Fame is now over 10,000 (700 over).

Steve Earle called it the Great Credibilty Threat of the 80's. Among others found on mainstream country radio and or on Nashville Now were The Desert Rose Band, KD Lang, Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark, Emmylou, Sweethearts of the Rodeo,Steve Earle, John Stewart, and Rosanne Cash. No one can explain how it happened. I'm sure glad it did.

I guess the primary artists doing a pure version would be Dale Watson and Ray Wylie Hubbard, though their music has a little harder edge.   Anyone have any other suggestions of mid-80's sounding country artists?  I think George Strait and Alan Jackson have gone more pop.  I'm still amazed when I listen to my Alan Jackson greatest hits CD of how good a writer he was and how he did so well with a simple honky-tonk band during this period.   Simple, down-to-earth music done well has a real appeal in this day and time.

Unlike back in the 80's that music is everywhere now , it has it's own forum's , radio shows, blogs , even the Americana Music Awards. If you want to hear it , it's easy , back then there was only the mainstream.

We could use that again