Over at Pitchforkmedia.com Stephen M. Deusner has written an article titled “Everything But Country” which is overtly a review of Shout! Factory’s box set “Legends of Country Music: Classic Hits from the 50s, 60s, and 70s” and is more subtly is past and present country music’s place in the American cultural landscape and Nashville’s role in inadvertently cultivating great alt.country acts. The title of the piece is taken from the typical response to “What kind of music do you like?” which is “Everything but rap and country.” Nice, thoughtful stuff.
An excerpt: Mainstream hip-hop has been filtering into indie culture for a few years, but contemporary country music has been slow to take root beyond safe alt- holdovers. Perhaps it’s because the music as played by corporate radio stations is perceived to be simplistic, jingoistic, and sentimental– which is true to an extent– or simply because Arcade Fire fans don’t want to be associated with NASCAR fans and Wal-Mart shoppers. As a result, indie faves Neko Case and Jenny Lewis are considered to be merely dabbling in country, and Tim McGraw covering “Stars Go Blue” doesn’t mean Ryan Adams is the new Kris Kristofferson. Instead, older country music gets a pass, and artists like the Carter Family, Dock Boggs, and Bob Wills are perfectly acceptable to indie ears, perhaps because there was no rock’n’roll to compete with at that time or because they’re so far removed from our current music climate that they don’t register as country anymore. Even the next few generations of country artists have found an audience among younger listeners: Willie Nelson is a favorite due to his ceaseless experimenting, Loretta Lynn found a new audience working with Jack White, and Johnny Cash is more popular with the indie (and every other) crowd dead than he was alive.