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Friday, September 19, 2014

September 19, 2014: Country Music and Society: 21st Century Country

[As with any longstanding, popular cultural genre, country music has a complex, evolving relationship to American society. In this series, I’ll highlight five ways we can AmericanStudy the genre and those social connections and meanings. I’d love to hear your country connections and analyses for a twangtastic crowd-sourced weekend post!]
Five recent songs that capture the genre’s evolving American story—and about which I won’t say too much, because you should let them say it to you directly:
1)      Jamey Johnson, “In Color” (2008): Johnson’s beautiful dialogue between a grandfather and his son manages to sum up much of the 20th century alongside its moving depiction of life, family, and love.
2)      Brad Paisley, “Welcome to the Future” (2009): Paisley’s ode to progress is a more direct and somewhat on-the-nose engagement with 20th and 21st century changes, but any country shoutout to Martin Luther King, Jr. is fine by me.
3)      Neko Case, “People Got a Lotta Nerve” (2009): The warnings of a self-avowed “maneater” aren’t exactly revolutionary—“These Boots Are Made for Walking,” anyone?—but Case’s imagery is as distinctive as her voice and sound, and it adds up to another side to those strong country women about whom I blogged on Wednesday.
4)      Eric Church, “Springsteen” (2011): You didn’t think I could resist including a song called “Springsteen” in this list, did you? Again, Church’s ode to a long-lost young love isn’t exactly the first of its kind; but in its self-referential use of pop culture to express those feelings, it represents another element to 21st century country for sure.
5)      Kacey Musgraves, “Follow Your Arrow” (2013): I mentioned Musgraves and linked to this song in that same Wednesday post—but any country song that makes the case for both lesbian relationships and smoking pot has to be included in an analysis of new trends in the genre, ones that reflect but also continue to push forward their society, and ours.
Crowd-sourced post this weekend,
PS. So one more time: what do you think? Responses to any of the week's posts, or other country connections you'd highlight for the weekend post?

1 comment:

  1. To add on Musgrove's really interesting direction for the genre I'd like to point out that while she is in favor of open-mindedness towards love of all kinds (or at least lesbian) and pot, she also speaks to body image and her video does a terrific job backing that up. Musgrove, not a stick insect, has no problem dressing to show her curves. I think that with music like this, and aimed at the younger listening audience, this could be the generation that changes the genre from one of isolation and conservative ideology to a more broad and (if not accepting) ready to listen to new ideas audience.