New Country

Did you know Tim McGraw was good?

I had to drive from Santa Monica to Hollywood.  During RUSH HOUR!

I hear traffic is hell just about everywhere these days.  Just know that ours is even worse.  I’d like to tell you I could walk faster, but as you well know, NOBODY WALKS IN L.A!

To listen to the same damn rock and roll for an hour plus, I just wasn’t up to it.  So I decided on a project.  I’d work my way up the Sirius dial, all the way from Channel 1 to INFINITY!

Maybe it was just my mood, but even the rap sounded good.  Really, listen to alternative rock for a while and ANYTHING will sound good.  What happened to all these skinny little white boys that they have to whine over their tinny guitars?  Who’d want to fuck these pencil-dick people?  You want to know why people constantly say rock is dead?  LISTEN TO THIS SHIT!  Or the imitation metal.  Rock is so far from its home base, so far off target, so far from three chords and a chorus, so far from honesty and/or comprehensibility, it’s a wonder we can sell it at all.

Really, Ice-T had some interesting shit to say.  But he’s no longer a rapper, he’s a TV star.  Seems like everybody in rap wants to be somebody else.  It’s a lifestyle for the listener, but for the act?  It’s just a stepping stone to further riches.  I wore my do-rag in the car for about ten minutes, but then that was enough, I moved even further up the dial.

And it’s not easy on Sirius.  Because it takes so damn long for the titles to show up.  And then, you’ve got to cycle through the titles and the channel name.  I mean if you don’t know the music, how in the fuck would you know who did it?  I’m constantly pushing the button, feeling like I’m living in the twentieth century, before I expected to get it all, RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

Some of the stations are confusing.  Is the R&B crooner the anomaly on the rap channel, or is this a whole new category?

But you know when you hear shit-kickin’ music, you can hear the cowboy hat through the dashboard.

But when I was growing up, country music had a twang.  It was so far from Top Forty that it was referred to as "Hillbilly Music".  And believe me, there are no hillbillies north of the Mason/Dixon line.  But this stuff…  It ALMOST sounds like rock.  The rock that USED TO BE!

Unlike the hip-hop, there are real instruments.  And melodies.

And unlike the new rock, the structure is basic, verses and choruses, modulations up the scale.  Actually, listen for a few days and that’s what bugs you, the lack of INNOVATION!  If rock were country, Yes never would have followed the Beatles, never mind Jimi Hendrix.

But within this framework…there’s a whole WORLD!

Oh, I made it all the way up the Sirius dial, to the traffic reports.  Listened to the weather in Boston.  But as I drove down Sunset Boulevard, just past the Beverly Hills Hotel, my research done, I went back to Channel 60, "New Country".

And every one of them words rang true and glowed like burnin’ coal, pourin’ off of every page like it was written from me to you, but I was not tangled up in blue, I was laughing, I was alive, I was ECSTATIC!  This was a joy I hadn’t experienced in oh-so-long!

But I don’t know shit about country.  Maybe this is the crap.  Maybe this is the stuff those deep into it rail about.  Then I realized, I was the target audience, I was fucking IGNORANT!

And I tried to switch the station.  Tried to leave the Sirius country ghetto.

But I couldn’t.  Rock no longer appealed.

Oh, I spent some time at Channel 63, Outlaw Country, which oftentimes seems to truly be more rock than country, but I kept on coming back to New Country, Channel 60, day after day.  Because it was fun to be on the pulse, of SOMETHING!

But I wasn’t going to write about it until I heard this Brad Paisley song on the radio today, "Ticks".

I hate Brad Paisley on principle.  How did this wimp score Kimberly Williams?  And is that REALLY his name?  And if so, why didn’t he CHANGE IT?  To be known as a fabric design?

But this song.  It has this one line…

It really didn’t register until the second time through the chorus.  And one thing about country choruses, after the song is done, they’re embedded in your brain, you’re still singing them when you get out of the car, they’re with you FOREVER!  Anyway, the second time I heard this line, I cracked up…

I’ll set you up from the beginning.  Of the chorus anyway…

Cause I’d like to see you out in the moonlight
I’d like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I’d like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I’d like to check you for ticks

Utterly hysterical!  That’s me!  I like to be playful, a little rough, I want to wrestle you down and inspect every inch of you.  I want to check you for TICKS!

How the hell did he come up with this?  This is the kind of creativity we USED to have in rock.  What a great concept.  Yup honey, I’m gonna pull down your pants, make sure nothing’s burrowed in your skin!  And after I do, I’m gonna put something in YOU!

I felt like I was five.  Before there was a difference in the sexes, playing doctor in the backyard.

And after stopping to buy something, I heard Big & Rich’s "Comin’ To Your City".  The guitars are rollickin’, there’s an enthusiasm, it sounds like…WE’RE AN AMERICAN BAND?  Or maybe Tesla’s "Comin’ Atcha Live"!

Well we’re comin’ to your city
Gonna play our guitars and sing you a country song
We’ll all be flyin’ higher than a jet airliner
And if you wanna little bang in your ying yang come along__

Well we flew through Cincinnati
And we all got really happy
Grabbed a bowl of that skyline chili along the way
Then we rolled on into Kansas
Scared the hell our of Marilyn Manson
And the party started happenin’
Hey hey hey

That’s what rock bands do.  They get in their buses, pile their shit into big airliners, and set out across this great big country of ours.  You buy your tickets in your sleepy little burg months in advance.  And the day of the show, you leave work early.  You get high in the car on the way to the gig, drink beer in the parking lot.  And when the band hits the stage, you’re happier than a housewife getting a Pontiac on OPRAH!

But this isn’t a rock band.

But they’re talking about Marilyn Manson!

Oh, you’ve got to wade through the right wing crap.  Christianity and the family.  But, at least they’re singing about their reality.  As opposed to the rockers rhyming metaphors incomprehensible to laymen.  They’re singing about LIFE!  You’ve got a life, DON’T YOU!

And there’s sad stuff, like Jake Owen’s "Starting With Me".  A tear in your beer lament similar to what we used to think country music was.  But mixed in with all this modern rock-oriented stuff, the truth of the lyrics, the mood, it breaks through, it rings true.

And the joy in Terri Clark’s "Dirty Girl"…  It’s not that different from Brad Paisley’s elation over checking his honey for ticks.

I mean who would you rather fuck?  Some skinny pierced and tattooed skank screaming about how life sucks or Terri Clark?  A woman?

I had to endure Toby Keith’s ode to the American soldier.  God, is country radio propaganda?  People hear this shit and line right up behind the Republicans, hating Hillary and Bill Maher.  Fuck right wing talk radio, COUNTRY radio has a constituency unrivaled in the rock OR rap world.  Furthermore, alternative rockers and hip-hop fans DON’T VOTE!

And country radio has a base.  People actually listen.  It’s still the heartbeat of the community.  The way AOR was way back when.

But the kingpin is Tim McGraw.  Being Sirius, being the land of repeats, every other song seems to be by Tim McGraw.  But, like I told you above, he’s good!  It’s like every other song in the early seventies being by Led Zeppelin…  Got a problem with that?

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