Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering junior and Mustang News conservative columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Here’s the deal: This week I get to write about country music.
I apologize to anybody who wanted to read some heated debate about the Keystone XL pipeline or something like that, but hey, just wait a couple weeks.
Mustang News’ own sports editor, Nick Larson, published an article titled “Why Your Music Sucks: Country Edition.” Now don’t get me wrong, I like Nick. He’s a quality guy and we share mutual fansmanship (is that even a word?) for the Green Bay Packers.
Nick’s article, or slaying as it’s better termed, about country music nearly ripped my soul out. I live and breathe country music, so pardon me if I get a little worked up over the course of this article.
First, let me clarify something: I’m not country. I have one pair of boots that are affectionately termed “Mountain Sperry’s” every time I wear them, I don’t own a single cowboy hat and I consistently try to act normal when I’m blasting country music out of my 4-cylinder Kia.
As I’ve said probably a half dozen times before, I’m from a small town and worked for one summer as a farmhand. That’s about as close to fitting the bill of country as I get, so I’m not exactly the stereotypical “hick” that Nick affectionately alluded to.
Enough about me. I want to move on to dissecting Nick’s opinions.
Everything is the same
I’m not even going to pretend like this is a real argument.
Maybe when one listens to country radio for a few minutes until they get bored, this is the conclusion one comes to.
From George Strait’s “I’ve got a Car” to Justin Moore’s “Lettin’ the Night Roll” to Florida-Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze,” country music has any number of various styles.
Granted, the goal of radio is to be popular. Radio plays what sells, and what sells often sounds the same. It’s this way for any genre. To find the depths of any genre, one just has to dig a little deeper than the shallow tunes of the radio.
In Nick’s article, he also states that country is “a genre that hates women almost as much as rap does.” As a mechanical engineering student, I like numbers, so let’s take a look at them. At last week’s Grammy’s, three of the four country awards were taken home by women (Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and The Band Perry).
Don’t forget to overlook Kacey Musgraves’ CMA Song of the Year award for her song “Follow Your Arrow,” which speaks favorably about same-sex relationships and lighting up joints.
Maybe country music isn’t as shallow as its shallow-minded critics make it out to be.
Last, Nick also claims “country artists aren’t true artists because they don’t progress.” Please, somebody tell me this isn’t serious.
I’ll use country star Kenny Chesney as an example of a country musician who is continually evolving. Chesney’s early hits were classic country songs featuring “three chords and the truth.” Since then, Chesney has expanded his repertoire into country infused with both island and gypsy-style influences.
If one person could honestly listen to country music from Cash, Hank, Willie and Waylon through the artists of today and tell me with a straight face that there’s been no progression, I’d possibly drop dead on the spot.
Check that, I’d assume they were lying and carry on with my life.
“Every country song has the same formula.” False.
Refer to iTunes top country singles #100 through #200. These are the great songs; ones that were once number ones, but just hang around for old times’ sake because they’re that good. None of these sound the same. You now have two options: You can trust me, or you can go and test it.
I’m now going to pretend like I didn’t get worked up about the claims that country music stars are essentially bigoted racists. I’ve been referred to as a bigot and racist (unjustly) enough in our comment section that I’ve learned not to touch these terms with a ten-foot pole.
Has Hank Williams Jr. said some dumb things? Yes.
Does Blake Shelton have a filter? No.
In general, however, country stars tend to be pretty realistic, down-to-earth people.
The last thing I have to say here is just an ode to Canada. Trust me, Nick, country stars don’t hate everything “non-American.” On my daily drive to work in Hamilton, Washington (Google it) this past summer, Canadian country radio was the only station available. You have my word that Canadians are crazy about country music. I doubt this would be the case if country stars were so hateful about “non-American” things.
I’ll be honest, Nick’s depiction of country music festivals was spot on.
But for the sake of opinion, I’ll make my argument.
All music festivals are the same. People get excited to go sit in the middle of nowhere for a few days and saturate their bodies with all sorts of … good things. These people enjoy the first couple of days, then get too hungover for the third and somehow find a way to leave after the last feature performer.
Country music festivals are exactly like any other music festival, just with more tobacco cans and fewer doses of narcotics. If one hates on country music festivals, they better hate on all the rest.
There’s just one thing I can’t figure out: How does Nick Larson — a former beer columnist and self-proclaimed beer enthusiast — hate America’s greatest excuse for sitting around and doing nothing but drink beer for three days?
Hey, at least country music has real instruments. Yes, ones that require actual talent to play rather than mixing few loops on a tabletop Macbook and pretending to be somewhat musically talented.
Take, for example, country stars Keith Urban and Brad Paisley. They can shred on the guitar along with their singing talents. That’s the making of true musicians.
Last, let me just clarify Nick’s one point: Banjo. Badass.
I might as well have just titled this section “Eric Church.” A master of nostalgia and relatability, Church is the sole savior and representation of all that is right in country music. I’d be surprised if anybody noticed that I’ve been sneaking Eric Church quotes into my columns over the past year and a half.
Hand-picked to be the heir to “The King” George Strait, Church once wrote a song called “Country Music Jesus.” Call him selfish, but little did he know he was writing a song about himself.
Question: Who holds the all-time indoor concert attendance record?
Answer: George Strait, who attracted more than 104,000 fans to AT&T Stadium in Texas last year.
Anybody who wants to hate on country music is free to do so, but I’m sure in no time they’ll find comfort in hanging around George Strait’s “ocean front property in Arizona.”
For now, I’ll just go back to listening to my country music spirit song, Thomas Rhett’s “All-American Middle Class White Boy.”