I normally try to answer questions here not ask them, and you’d think that after running a website called “Saving Country Music” for as long as I have I would have asked this question before. And I’m not asking this question rhetorically either. I really want to know, is country music dead?
I began to wonder this when I read on The 9513 that Gene Watson and Trace Adkins are teaming up to make a rebuttal song to the famous (or infamous) Larry Cordle song “Murder on Music Row” (see below). The new song is called “We’ve Got a Pulse.” I personally love “Murder on Music Row” and think that each verse is so poignant, so starkly true it hurts; even the part about “rock n’ roll guitars all mixed up in your face” though I personally have no problem with rock n’ roll, or blending rock and country.
First off, I predict colossal failure for this song. I mean, Gene says “There’s not a better song out there that states how I feel about country music.” Yet he had to hire a cabal of “today’s hottest writers” to write the song for him. Gene Watson couldn’t write the himself because in the modern Nashville assembly line-style of how to manufacture a hit that “Murder on Music Row” was making light of in the first place, artists don’t write their own songs.
But what I want to focus on is the bigger picture. Though “Murder on Music Row” shows nothing but reverence for the music and defiance for the Music Row institutions that have corrupted the music with their single-minded monetary interests, an underlying theme of the song is that country music has been murdered, and thus, it is dead. And though I agree with everything in the song, I can understand how this could put a sour taste in a REAL country fan’s mouth.
IS country music dead? Or is it just Music Row that is dead? Or is it the traditions and institutions that have died? If you imply that the music is dead, then this dots the period at the end of the story. The reason I named this website Saving Country Music, was to give people a measure of hope, to make people feel like it isn’t all lost, and I try to reinforce this in every article I write. When I talk to artists and behind-the-scenes people, I always make sure to thank them, offer them encouragement, and let them know that all the fans, however silent or pedestrian they may be, appreciate what they do, not only for them as fans, but for the music in general.
I personally don’t know how I feel about this topic. I kind of feel that country music is not dead, though I understand that sentiment. I feel that it is in bad shape, and that the last sparks of country music are in exile, sheltered in the hearts of all REAL country music fans, as well as in the hearts of REAL country artists, and the behind the scenes people and the venues that keep the music alive. THAT is why I try to offer encouragement, to hopefully keep people nourishing those sparks within them, because this is all country music has left. And where there’s a spark, you can start a fire.
But I want to know what YOU think. Is country music dead?