Hate Country Music … Why?

By Hannah Quinque

Pho­to Cred­it: Car­ol M Highsmith

Con­fes­sion time: I like coun­try music. And no, I’m not being face­tious. And no, not just the alter­na­tive kind. Gimme a steel gui­tar, a ban­jo, and a slow south­ern drawl, and I’m jam­min’. When I put on the New Boots playlist, how­ev­er, I do get looks rang­ing from dis­be­lief to slight­ly annoyed to amused. Not that the reac­tion sur­pris­es me. As is the nature of stereo­types, there is some truth to them, but they also don’t cov­er all of the vast corn­field called coun­try music. And hon­est­ly, you don’t have to strain your ears (pun intend­ed) to pick up on all there is to hear.

Orig­i­nat­ing from blues and folk music tra­di­tions, the genre of coun­try music is as ver­sa­tile as it ever was. We’re talk­ing coun­try plus rock, pop, soul, even rap: Genre-bend­ing is not a for­eign con­cept in coun­try music. And even for those who don’t want to get caught up in the mix (your loss) and cling to tra­di­tion, Amer­i­cana is still coun­try, plain and simple.

Aren’t you aware of the prob­lems the coun­try music indus­try faces with racism, misog­y­ny, homo­pho­bia, pret­ty much back­ward con­ser­vatism, and patri­o­tism in gen­er­al? Abse-fudg­ing-lute­ly! Great stuff. Why not do jus­tice to coun­try music’s his­to­ry of the social strug­gle and sup­port some of the many coun­try musi­cians who fall into those mar­gin­al­ized groups! For starters, here’s a Black Coun­try Mat­ters playlist curat­ed by a Black LGBTQ* musician.

Obvi­ous­ly, you can’t keep some­one from sim­ply enjoy­ing coun­try in any style, and none of the real issues with exclu­sion will improve by con­demn­ing an entire col­or­ful genre based on some would-be moral supe­ri­or­i­ty. What’s gen­uine­ly regres­sive is not being open and lend­ing an at least mild­ly inter­est­ed ear when unfa­mil­iar music comes on. With that in mind, I’ll keep crackin’ open a cold one and jam­min’ to coun­try, every­thing from tra­di­tion­al­ly gener­ic to out-of-there experimental.

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