One of the most common responses I get when I ask people what music they listen to is “I listen to just about everything except country music.” I recently sat down and thought about why people might feel that way and how I could show them that country music has something to offer.
So here’s my crack at trying to help people see country music in a different light based on answers to my usual follow-up question: “Why don’t you like country music.”
“Country music has no substance. It’s all ‘my pick ’em up truck and beer.’ I like music about real issues.”
I can feel you one this one. The popular, radio-friendly country music we usually hear today sometimes sounds like it’s pandering to a lifestyle of truck driving and partying and avoiding difficult topics. Well, let me introduce you to the movement that’s keeping it real. What I like to call the neo-outlaw country movement.
The person leading this movement is Sturgill Simpson. He is influenced by classic outlaw country artists like Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson. Like those before him, he also isn’t afraid of singing about topics typically seen as taboo in country music. This is apparent in Simpson’s most famous song “Turtles All the Way Down” which references use of psychedelic drugs like LSD and DMT.
Another leader in the neo-outlaw movement is Tyler Childers. He also tells it like it is without a filter. In fact, he recently criticized mainstream country in an interview with The Guardian. He said “The problem with country is we’ve turned the props into the play,” “Let’s not just Solo cup and pickup truck it to death. Let’s handle this in a smart way. Nobody is thinking about lyrical content, or how we’re moving people, or what’s going on in the background of their minds.”
“I just like the early 2000s country”
Well, guess what? Those artists are still around. Dierks Bentley came out with an excellent album last year and so did Eric Church.
If you’re looking for a band that has that sound look no further than The Turnpike Troubadours:
Also, check out Cody Jinks:
“I like rock music. Country is too soft for me.”
Well lucky you! There’s an up and coming artist out of Texas named Koe Wetzel who has been blurring the line between country and rock with his latest album Harold Saul High.
A more mainstream example of country with obvious rock roots would be Chris Stapleton:
Or you may prefer The Jompson Brothers, the rock band that Chris Stapleton is a member of:
“I like really old, traditional, country music.”
There’s a young artist out of Saskatchewan named Colter Wall that’s keeping that sound alive:
I hope this helped some if not all of you find some appreciation for country music. If not, I hope this was a good read.