I’ve seen this theme hashed out many times, in my blogs and blogs of others, on message boards, etc. etc. :
How am I supposed to feel when one of my country heroes hooks up with a country zero of the modern pop country era?
Whether you’re talking about the love fest between Hank Jr. and Kid Rock, Kid Rock handing on the shoulder of David Allan Coe, Willie Nelson cutting duets with Toby Keith or having songs produced by Kenney Chesney, it makes a lot of us very uncomfortable to see artists that we have so much respect, and sometimes outright reverence for, cavorting with the likes of the pop country artists whose names have become replacements for foul language or filthy activities.
(Sorry, I had to stop typing for a bit to go take a Kenney Chesney.)
(Toby Keith ,Willie Nelson & David Allan Coe on the set of the dumb movie “Beer For My Horses”)
I know I have some readers who happen to like Kid Rock and Toby Keith, and that’s fine. If that’s what gets you to feeling right, then so be it. I may not agree, but I try to respect everyone’s musical tastes. But for us who cannot stand this current tribe of mainstream country artists, these pop country pairings cause conflict and confusion in our little country hearts.
So what to do?
I honestly do not have a good answer for you, and I guess that answer is really up to all of us individually.
In my opinion, I will always look up to the country artists of the past and judge them mostly on the big picture of their life’s body of work. I remember when I wrote my Hank Jr. vs. Hank III blogs that even though I was mad at Jr. for calling Kid Rock his “Rebel Son” and virtually ignoring his real son, it didn’t take away all the good REAL country music that Hank Jr. made over many years, and the respect I have for him doing the best he could living in his own daddy’s shadow.
(Kid Rock gives Hank Jr. back some of the dignity that he stole from him in a moment of Christmas cheer.)
I will never blame Willie Nelson for “selling out” because I don’t think that Willie is aware enough about such things. Willie is in a constant cycle of hitting it big and going for broke, and when you add on top of that all his social work for farmers and the fact he got screwed by the IRS a few years back, I will never blame Willie for trying to make money.
No matter what country hero you speak of, they are all just trying to stay relevant, and though it irks me to no end at times, I do understand it. Not everyone can be like Johnny Cash, who figured out a way to make music for a whole new generation with Rick Rubin and the American Recordings, without being hit with the sellout tag. But even Johnny Cash was criticized by country purists back in the day when he played and recorded with Bob Dylan.
So I want to know what YOU think! Leave a comment and help us all cope with the Country Heroes/Country Zeros question.