March 24, 2018

Country Music Today

Several weeks ago I received an email from a listener to my radio show complaining that Country Music “isn’t country anymore.” It’s a sentiment I’ve heard again and again. That’s why, this month, I thought I would publish my remarks to that listener in the hopes it might help someone else. Here is my response:

I’ve been in country music a long time now. The loyalty to the genre is amazing. Everyone has his or her likes and dislikes. I’ve heard your complaint many times over the years, and I’ve even discussed it with artists. Here is the long and the short of it: what you like is what you like. You are not wrong.

This is the issue. Country music has always evolved—from the Hillbilly Days to the 1960s Nashville sound to the outlaws of the ‘70s and so on. Vince Gill had an interesting take on it when he was asked “his opinion” of current music. He said, “It isn’t my cup of tea…but I know what I was playing wasn’t necessarily the cup of tea of the guys who came before me.”

Eddie Rabbitt once told me that when he was coming along, he knew that he was pushing the older artists off the radio. That’s just the way it works. He said, “Now it’s my turn to be pushed out the back door…[but] I am just gonna try and hang on to that doorknob as long as I can.”

The point I’m trying to make is that country music has always evolved. From fiddles and guitars to adding drums and then electronics, the music has changed. From Ferlin Husky to Jim Reeves and Ray Price, artists have learned from the music of their era—just like young artists are doing today. Garth Brooks was disliked by traditionalists in the 1990s, 25 years ago, some might argue. Today, he is as country as anyone else.

So, yes, today’s instrumentation might not be considered classic country, but it reflects the times. However, the one constant in country music is the lyrics. This is where I believe country music really lives. It’s not found in a fiddle, but in the songs themselves. They still talk about real life! We aren’t in coal mines and factories like the ‘60s. We aren’t in the ‘70s or ‘80s anymore either. Today’s world is cell phones and instant communication. Artists today are talking about life today, not a life of bygone years.

My friend, time marches on. WTCM FM is and always has been your Top 40 country music station from the ‘70s to today. We played the hits then and we play them today—with a large “tip of the hat” to our past.

Thanks for loving country music!

Readers, this will be my last Michigan Country Lines article as I am stepping into a new adventure…wish me luck!

Speak Your Mind