I would listen to much anything and have my likes and dislikes. But one form of music completely escaped me as an adolescent. Country music – known in the UK as country and western. It was plainly ridiculous, a joke. I did, when I was about fifteen, go to watch a movie about Johnny Cash just for the laugh. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Country music is the white man’s blues or the American man’s folk. As a genre, it shares a lot with those two as a vehicle for cultural expression, and it has a lot to say about that culture. It’s fair to say that country music took on board folk and blues influences, to develop its own style. And then it influenced others. Little Feat were a country band, as well as everything else, Pavement somehow merged country and grunge, and the Rolling Stones can count their greatest glories after discovering country.
I could no more sit and listen to Garth Brooks than I could sit and read Hello! magazine. But Brooks and his ilk produce no more than a caricature. The earlier subject of my mockery, Johnny Cash, is indeed country music’s greatest ambassador. I love this song, even if the subject is Hell and Judgement.