Signs Country Has Lost Its Way

April 16, 2010 - By Trigger  //  Down with Pop Country  //  30 Comments

Johnny Cash middle finger country radio Mean Eyed Cat AustinRemember back when Taylor Swift won the CMA for Entertainer of the Year? We thought it couldn’t get worse for country music. There was a lot of surmising of where country music might go next after that win. Would there be a traditionalist backlash? Would country become even more pop oriented to try to mimic Taylor’s success?

No, try a sinister option #3: Take the fervor for a traditionalist backlash and roll it into even more pop oriented, cliche riddled radio ready songs that further trash the soul and name of country music. With new artists like Josh Thompson, and new albums like Gretchen Wilson’s I Got Your Country Right Here, Music Row proved that the depth of their shrewdness cannot be measured.

But maybe the have gone too far this time. Nashville’s collusive reality tunnel has blinded them to the fact that they are becoming the brunt of jokes, literally. And not just in the seeing-eye core of country fandom, but in the overall culture. People who always hated country, are now wondering what the hell is going on with country.

But don’t take my word for it.

Chet Flippo, long time country music writer, whose been a senior editor for Rolling Stone and wrote the introductions to the classic Outlaw country album Wanted: The Outlaws is now getting into the fray. In a Nashville Skyline article, Chet calls out the same Josh Thompson and Gretchen Wilson songs that I’ve been ranting about for weeks:

“Junk songwriting and shallow lyrics and shorthand shopping lists of objects that supposedly should be desired by country fans have always existed in country songs, but I don’t think they’ve ever been as celebrated as they are now. Or as ubiquitous. Or as successful. . . One reason is that there seem to be no — or very few — musically-knowledgeable people at radio because of radio consolidation and perhaps because the bosses don’t want anyone messing up the process with talk of quality or of good songs.”

“Another reason is the old cycle of record labels recording artists and songs that radio says it wants, and that usually calls for the lowest common denominator. And for songs that test well with the right demographic. And then that means songwriters have to write the kinds of songs that will actually get recorded and played. And that cycle repeats over and over.

Chet doesn’t name names, but with his “shallow lyrics and shorthand shopping lists of objects that supposedly should be desired by country fans” he is clearly talking about the Josh Thompson and Gretchen Wilson songs that rip off the Black Crowes and rip off each other.

But Chet is still part of the country music fold, so let’s take a broader look. A recent Wall Street Journal Article about the Pulitzer Prize awarded to Hank Williams wondered if the award was also backhandedly criticizing the creatively bankrupt culture of modern country:

“The acknowledgment of Williams comes at a time when country music seems under assault from within, as its biggest stars promote glossy, cookie-cutter hybrid that owes more to pop than acoustic country and its writers have reduced to a litany of well-worn clichés the kind of lyrical insight Williams displayed. Though Williams was a star in his day who understood the power of image, at the core of his work was his ability to write and sing lines that resonated not only in the mind but deep in the heart of his listeners – which is why his songs so easily cross genres for other performers: His words speak of what we know to be true.”

A lot of people would say people who are not knowledgeable about country music have no right to criticize it. Chet Flippo has said that much himself, and I disagreed with him. But when something becomes so obvious that even people not paying full attention to the country music world can see how ridiculous it has become, how far it has gone, this is the perfect sign that it has gone too far.

When I was down at South by Southwest a few weeks back, I was in a restaurant, and saw this sign below, completely by random. Whether it’s this sign, a Pulitzer Prize, or a Wall Street Journal article, there’s no more need for debate, the signs are everywhere throughout our culture: Country music has lost its way.

Johnny Cash middle finger country radio Mean Eyed Cat Austin

30 Comments to “Signs Country Has Lost Its Way”

  • We already knew it’s lost it’s way and we can thank Music Row in Nashville and these artist’s like Taylor Swift, Gretchen Wilson, Josh Thompson, Rascal Flatts and all them other idiots who play this noise they call Country Music now a day’s and that’s why it’s now up to us TRUE Country Fans who grew up with ole Waylon, Willie, Hank Sr, Johnny Cash etc to bring it back just like Hank 3 is and Lucky Tubb and Wayne “The Train” Hancock. Sometime’s i dream bout’ pickin’ that ole guitar and singin’ them ole song’s bout the blues and sorrow and show these newfags how it’s done and i think that’s what we all should do, Just bring back real country and get some real music on the airwaves again. Hell, Nashville took a friend of mine here not to long ago and she’s now an up and coming “Pop Country” singer and honestly i just wanna tell her to fuck off and play some real country or don’t sing it all but it’s been her biggest dream to sing and play and i didn’t wanna be rude.. :/ Her name is Casey Walker and she’s got a real pretty voice it’s just a shame it’s gonna goto waste. :/ Here’s her Website.



  • Well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what pop country’s all about. It stuck out like a sore thumb to me a decade ago and that was when I never paid any of it more than a moment’s notice. Most everyone outside of pop country looks at it like it’s a clown act.

    I have to believe that Nashville knows the score and that they’re at least thinking about what to do next. But as long as people fill the seats for the acts and fill their iPods with the music I’m sure the execs aren’t going to get all that worked up about it. I’d guess their focus will be some kind of longer-term strategy to keep their bottom line in tact.


  • i love that sign….it’s a definate REPOST!!!!


  • Country music hasn’t lost its way. Pop Country has given it the wrong directions onto a one way street, with the road closed and a deep ravine waiting for a flying leap . . . Real country music is still there, on the side of the road, hanging out and waiting for the current country to finish up its drive through the south.


  • Rick,

    In my wildest dream I never thought it could get any worse than Taylor Swift. Lo and behold, Josh Thompson and Gretchen 2.0. Now I can only wonder, where do we go from here?


  • Burch,

    Nashville might be painting themselves into a corner. The spoon fed public may be dumb, but they’re not stupid.


  • Great point Denise!


  • You may be right, and it does look pretty ugly for them. But I will never underestimate the depths pop music fans will allow corporate entities to plunge them into.


  • i guess i’m here to remind folks country music has been around even longer than i’ve been alive. do not forget the likes of: gene autry, spade cooley, bob wills and hell even roy rogers, just to name a few.

    then there’s, “never under estimate the contribution country music has made to rock ‘n’ roll.” – keith richards

    yeah, know i’d really be happy to see damn near any of the of the current crop of pop country goons stop what the hell they are doing and just do covers of the old stuff. and mean it.


  • sorry, but the keith quote should have “importance'” in it rather than “contribution”.
    actually, i think i butchered the whole quote. however, i think you get my drift and keith’s.


  • HELL YEAH! So where does it go from there? Trahville will just keep milking it for all they can. As long as they OWN the radio stations they can pull those teets til the stations change their own format to whatever new pop industry the record co. says. It wouldn’t be the first time I saw my country radio dial diminish to one in twenty stations. Hell even the suposedly “anti pop country” station I have to listen to (sometimes) plays the crap!


  • I say fuck pop cuntry and thank you to Hanks recognition. But I think you are starting to figure me out Tiggerman

    The Terror


  • And who was instrumental in introducing country to Keith Richards?

    (I ask rhetorically)


  • That Thompson song also reminded me of that Georgia satellites song that’s been rewritten 1000 times- as if I listen or even give a fuck.


  • I often stray from posting my thoughts… not because i dont agree with most of it but because I spell and articulate like a 4th grader on ADHD medication. But I shall try my best to give yall a little piece of my mind (whatever that does fur ya). We are all aware that “POP” country is controlled by a centrally located “queen bee” and that is music row. We are also all aware that this queen bee strives and survives with constantly being fed the all mighty dollar. Whatever makes the most wins the dedication/devotion/and attention of the “queen bee”. I hate to break it to yall but there is no way to kill the “queen bee”. Our only hope is that she over eats and drowns in her own vomit or that all the worker bee’s finally revolt and take over… just as Willie, Waylon, Kris, Hank (SR), and a hand full of others have done. But the worker bee’s of today are less apt to turn on the “direction and orders” of the queen bee because the money is too pretty to resist.
    So what do we do… that is the most important question. What does Triggerman, myself, and YOU do to “SAVE COUNTRY MUSIC”? We can only do the following things.
    1.) EDUCATE- teach your children, your friends, and anyone who will listen. Educate them to the bands we all know and love and the bands that are making meaningful music the way the pioneers of country meant it to be made. That’s why my 4 year old son knows who johnny cash is and can sing the first verse of FOLSOM PRISON… that’s why he know’s who HANK (SR) is and can pick out a picture of him without being prompted. That is why my oldest son’s legal name is Austin Clark HIRAM Clayton! That’s why my 2nd wife cant stand me and my music and I’m glad she’s gone because I dont have to listen or spend money on Kenny Fagney CD’s! Thats why I started and continued to put so much effort and passion into http://www.ibwip.com. To give people the chance to hear what real music sounds like and where to get it!
    2.) BOYCOTT- DONT BUY THE SHIT! If it smells like “POP” country and it looks like “POP” country.. dont spend a dollar… or a second… or an ounce of brain power even knowledge it. No offense to Triggerman but to be honest… WE SHOULDNT EVEN type, talk, or knowledge anyone or anything that doesnt instill our values of what “REAL” country music is or should be.
    3.) SUPPORT- Go to shows, by CD’s and merch from those who are making what we call “Country”. When a band comes through your town promote the shit out of them, give them a floor to sleep on, or a hot meal to get them through the next 24 hours. Listen to podcasts like Outlaw Radio Chicago, It Burns When I Pee, and any other one that plays and promotes indie and “real” country music.

    THAT IS WHAY YOU CAN DO for our music.. the people’s music.. the music that means something to our hearts, emotions, and our souls.

    What is most important for everyone to remember at the end of my rambling pre masterbation rant is this…. The “queen bee” will only be killed if we continue to EDUCATE…BOYCOTT…and SUPPORT.


  • Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha, Oh Boy! Nuff Said.


  • Pop country is country now. After listening to the Joe Buck interview done by The Triggerman, I agree 100% with Joe Buck that country does not exist anymore, it is dead and Nashville is responsible. There are great artists still out there, but it will never be the same.




  • I read this while listenin’ to Ernist Tubb sing to me. I reckon that tells ya where I stand on this pop country bullshit. I was once a man that listened to all of Trashvilles finest and then one day I didn’t like country music. I was so into rock and metal I had to make a choice cause my family all likes country music. They mostly like pop shit not the real deal though. Well I made a choice to hear country music and see what I thought one last time. Glad I did cause I listened to George Strait and Alan Jackson sing Murder On Music Row. That helped me put it into my head the way I needed it. I started, from then on, goin’ out and gettin’ the real country music. First came Hank Williams and then George Jones…now anythin’ I can get. I really really love bluegrass music too.

    It’s a shame that country music isn’t around like it should be, but I agree that once the pop shit is passed on by the real country music will come back. This is how all music has gone these days. I miss the pioneers of the country music genre. Oh well…Hank III and Dale Watson can get famous singin’ ’bout how it all should be. Let pop (country?) pucker up and kiss all our asses. They know what they’re doin’.


  • IBWIP, I agree with you 100% You basicly said everything i was trying to word out. I’m with you on this one for sure man.



  • I see how you are IBWIP.

    Upstage me in my own blog!

    I’ll get ya back!



  • Wasn’t ment out of disrespect at all man.


  • lol Blake, I’m just screwing with you. Our senses of humor need to get on the same path. You made some great points. Educate, Boycott, and Support. Love it!


  • i love pop music especially indie pop. but i also love maisntream pop with big choruses and goos subject matters. and yes i love the songs of Lady A, Rascal Flatts, Lonestar, and Keith Urban.

    But i just can’t call them COUNTRY.

    Josh Thompson in the other hand definitely have that country sound. But like you said, it’s all manufactured cliche. It loses its soul and prioritized its image…


  • Edcuate, Boycott and Support. Michee my friend you are Supporting the wrong crowd. That’s just my opinion.


  • BOYCOTT….just like Bandana said. And the Opry is a good symbolic place to start.

    I’ve been posting “BOYCOTT THE OPRY” in my mood/status for a long time on myspace.

    The word BOYCOTT should be heard EVERY time the Not So Grand Ole Opry is mentioned. Anyone who detests what corporate Trashville represents should encourage others to join in spreading the word.


  • And who was instrumental in introducing country to Keith Richards?

    Lonnie Donegan


  • Taylor Swift is to country music
    what anti-christ is to the bible.


  • Hey everybody. I think it’s a crying shame when I turn on the Opery on Friday and Saturday night and hear Rascal Flats, Talor Swift, and Carrie Underwear shoved down my throat when there’s so much they and the “country stations” could play. I’m 27 and was raised on Randy, Keith Whitley, Hank, Patsy, and George Jones. Fortunately, some of us are musicians out there like myself and not only write traditional country music but also play bluegrass as well.


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