Sep
24

5 Antidotes to Country Rap / Checklist Songs

September 24, 2013 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  20 Comments

secede-from-pop-countryThere’s nothing worse than inadvertently coming within ear shot of one of those songs—the idiotic country music laundry list / checklist ditty, or even worse when the performer is inclined to get all hip-hop on your ass and start rapping the lyrics over a drum machine beat. Even when you do your level best to avoid corporate radio, they’ll sneak up on you at the grocery store, come spilling out of some douche-mobile stopped beside you at a red light, or show up in some commercial when you’re watching the boob tube. If you’re anything like me, they can stimulate a strong negative physical reaction that can only be cured by the good stuff—true country music.

The select songs below aren’t country protest songs per se, though they may have those elements. They’re simply songs of a very personal nature with authentic themes told in real language, that speak to being unable to relate to an inauthentic world, and how to value the things in life that are real. Hopefully if you find yourself bent over and fighting back a gag reflex from Class A country checklist exposure, these songs will help cure what ails you.

Josh Abbott Band – “I’ll Sing About Mine”

As bad as the country rap songs are, the videos cause even more cultural corrosion by portraying an adulterated view of true rural people trying to hold on to their agrarian identity. Bare midriffs, buxom gyrations, and badass cars are no match for the curves and character of real country faces served cold. Neither is the caricaturish, shallow, and materialistic portrayal of rural life in country rap compared to the sense of family and community, and the fulfillment of hard work that accompanies true country living. All of these things are embodied in the song and video for Josh Abbott Band’s “I’ll Sing About Mine,” written by Adam Hood and Brian Keane. (read song/video review)

Willy “Tea” Taylor – “Life Is Beautiful”

The “laundry list” song formula doesn’t have to be used for the dark purpose of creating a corporate culture based on artifacts and behavior. Naming off artifacts of the country can be a great way to convey the beauty of life through illustrating it’s simplicity. Without question Willy’s “Life Is Beautiful” is a laundry list song; a laundry list song that schools all of it’s counterparts by simply being honest, and thankful. (read song review)

Wade Bowen – “Trucks”

The idiocy on display during a country radio segment is enough to fill one with self-doubt about the entire direction of humanity, especially these long-belabored laundry list songs coming from country’s top male performers. You listen, and say to yourself, “If I hear another song about trucks, I’m going to shoot myself.”

But the beautiful part about music is that as much as it can be the culprit for personal angst, it can also be the antidote. Wade Bowen’s “Trucks” aims its big, diamond-plated bumper at the incessant references to tailgates and four wheel drives in modern pop country songs and slams on the gas. At the same time, it practices what it preaches, making sure to instill some story and soul into the song along the way, instead of just being a vehicle for protest. (read song review)

Sturgill Simpson – “Life Ain’t Fair & The World Is Mean”

The miraculous thing about “Life Ain’t Fair & The World Is Mean” is how many subjects Sturgill touches on while saying so little. This ridiculous “new Outlaw” movement in country, how famous country sons dominate the independent country landscape, the way mainstream labels and producers manipulate artists, and how the system is rigged against authenticity; all these subjects are touched on in a song that when you really boil it down is actually a very personal story about Sturgill and his struggles and choices, and coming to grips with the inherent injustices in life and saying “that’s okay.” (read song review)

Left Arm Tan – “Wish”

I think it is important when we talk about saving country music, that we don’t work from a position of envy. In truth the joke is on them. They may have the big money, the control of the radio stations and the media. But we have each other, and true themes mined from real life experiences. Let them have their fake world, we have real music. But “Wish” isn’t necessarily an anti-Nashville song, it is more about the singer realizing that he shouldn’t be envying people living fake lives when he has something true already. (read song review)

20 Comments to “5 Antidotes to Country Rap / Checklist Songs”

    • I am aware of that article Justin, because I wrote it. And if you read it and truly understand what is trying to be conveyed, you’d know exactly why I posted this list and all the others I post.

      As an aside but still somewhat relevant, we are nigh upon a day of reckoning where the permeation of hipster tendencies in certain underground country and roots “scenes” where people incessantly pat themselves on the back for REALLY REALLY REALLY trying to “support the music” by doing things that amount to nothing more that showing off for their friends on social media, while the folks truly trying to push music to new audiences are labeled sellouts, are going to have to answer some tough questions.

         4 likes

      • I think I just touched a nerve I didn’t intend to touch. Of course I know you’re aware of the article, because of course I know you wrote it, which is why I figured I’d acknowledge it. As in, well played.

        As to the rest of your comment, and whatever it’s implying, I’m afraid I’ve missed the intent. Please enlighten me.

           11 likes

        • I think he’s calling you a hipster? and maybe shooter’s goon?….Internet lists, Two Guns down,WAAAY DOWN!

             1 likes

  • Amen. Great compendium here, Trigger!

    And I do agree “Wish” doesn’t strike me as bitter or even confrontational. The point of “Wish” is reflected in the clarification Gary Allan offered following his comments about where country radio is at presently: where he may not be happy about the overall direction of the format by any stretch, but still believes there is room for everyone and he’ll do his thing while they do theirs.

    It’s sad often when we are perceived as taking the low road solely for calling any particular song out. Jason Aldean, Justin Moore and Dallas Davidson have just rolled over and pretended Zac Brown was bashing Luke Bryan and his music in a broader sense when it is quite clear he was only singling out that song and even stated it was ONE of the worst songs he had ever heard, NOT THE worst song he ever heard.

    It frustrates me that we always appear to be on the defensive when we speak our minds on the status of the country format and that we’re relentlessly greeted with the “I just do what I love and I write what I know…” argument while we appear bitter. And the most effective way to work past this perception is by celebrating the music we love and having more songs like “Wish” that are honest but acknowledge the other realities music listeners dwell in rather than impugn them.

       6 likes

    • What I like about all of these songs is that they are not winey songs preaching to a chior, but lead by example while still making an important point. No pop country fan is going to be listening to “Dick In Dixie” or “Country My Ass” and see the light. No offense to those songs because I like them too. But these actually have the power to change someone’s perspective.

         3 likes

  • I find Wade Bowen’s song to be incredibly hypocritical. The chorus is exactly what he is speaking out against! He has a valid point, but then sings a song with nothing but cheesy truck references. For example if I heard this: “s10 Chevy’s or f150′s
    Flatbed Dodge ram dirt road ditties, Headlights taillights Daddy’s Eldorado, Dashboards ditches or silver Silverados, Down by the lake or down by the river….” on the radio, I would break the stereo trying to skip to the next station. Oh but everyone else please don’t sing about trucks?!?! 2 thumbs down

       4 likes

    • Wade is pointing out the obvious and in doing so sarcasm dictates using those ofending references to Trucks. How is that being hypocritical ?

         9 likes

      • The chorus of the song is EXACTLY what he speaks out against. To sing a song with a chorus completely about trucks when you are specifically asking other people to not play songs about trucks is the definition of hypocrisy. Practice what you preach.

           2 likes

    • I’d argue that it’s kind of an in between:
      Critical of mainstream “country” flavors while also staying within similar lines.

      He’s not criticizing songs that talk about trucks so much as he is those that ONLY talk about trucks and other meaningless topics. The point of Bowen’s song clearly goes beyond his listing of truck types in the chorus.

         3 likes

    • I believe it’s called irony.

         2 likes

  • ” real country faces ”

    maybe this has something to do with the decline of the business side of country music…

    There are Less and less country people all the time. Farms are huge, but there’s nobody there, just a few people on huge machines. and farm towns are dwindling, and disappearing.

    Lots of the people that made country music in the past were rural weren’t they?

    pretty sure some of the country stars of the fifties actually picked cotton for a living. coal miners, cattle workers.

    just found this ” Reba McEntire

    The Oklahoma redhead started gathering cattle on the family ranch at age six. She also helped turn bulls into steers. “I would stand behind the bull and hold his tail while Daddy sliced the sack and cut the cord and let the testicles fall.”

    and she’s a great country singer.

    How many of the new country stars have a connection to the actual country, to farming, and cattle, or coal mining, or something similar?

       5 likes

    • Very well put.

      What we had a lot more of, it seems, in days gone by was the reality of the writers’ and artists’ life experiences.

      Those experiences were manifested in their music.

      They may be the farming experiences of some artists, the Dust Bowl experiences of the earlier artists, Marty Robbins’ stock car racing, Merle Haggard’s and DAC’s times in the joint, the pains of Johnny Cash to escape his demons, the failure of Townes or Blaze Foley to even try, Loretta’s living with a husband whom she love, but who was a womanizer, etc.

      The list goes on.

      In other words, in one way or another, they lived lives which did not consist of hanging around the bus playing video games or thinking of ways to call attention to themselves.

      Some of the male country singers today act more like boy band singers than real country artists.

      The original artists designated as Outlaws in the 1970s and in their eponymous album didn’t try (or have to try) to be outlaws.

      They were outlaws.

      Not only did they have considerable trouble living within society’s laws, they certainly weren’t willing to live within arbitrary guidelines set by Music Row executives.

         13 likes

  • wikipedia

    “Cash was the son of a sharecropper from Kingsland, Arkansas, who sang folk, spiritual and country songs to himself while picking cotton in the fields.”

       3 likes

  • The funny thing to me about “Trucks” is one of the writers of the song is Shane MacAnally, whos responsible for quite a few huge laundry list songs. Irony is a funny thing.

       1 likes

  • You’re getting closer and closer to answering a previous question of mine, Trigger. How about when you find yourself, “trapped” at an event such as a birthday party and someone has their iPod plugged in with all of the shitty stuff? I’m still thinking an accidental beer spill down the back of the docking station is the way to go!?

       2 likes

    • I won’t officially endorse the destruction of private property, but you do what you gotta do ;)

         2 likes

    • Beer spills can never be justified. Soda? Different story.

         2 likes

      • You’d be hard pressed to find me with a soda in my hand, maybe I could just knock one off of the table!

           3 likes

  • I think the point of “Trucks” is not that he hates truck songs, which he acknowledges in the lyrics – “Most days I don’t mind them”. In the same vein as Alan Jackson’s “Don’t Rock The Jukebox” in regards to Rock and Roll. I think it’s being misinterpreted here and don’t think we can claim it as a “protest” song.

       2 likes

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