Man has long sought to express his emotions through the creative form of music. Pleasure, pain, passion, sadness, longing, all have found a musical form since time immemorial. It was not so long ago that our ancestors satisfied this innate emotional need with their own songs. One could viscerally connect with the emotion in a country song and feel the artist’s pain. Looking at the top 40 out of Nashville these days, it is clear that this is something we modern Southrons have lost touch with, because what is produced is no longer ours.
The first men to arrive in the Southland played the English ballads, Irish jigs, and Gospel songs of their native homes. Over time, these would evolve into the distinctively Southern music with which our fathers and grandfathers were familiar. Appalachian and Bluegrass. Country and Southern Folk. The songs and sounds transcended generations and kept us in tune with our people and our homeland.
Our forebears made their own songs from their own experiences. The lyrics told stories. They told sad tales about heartbreaks, feuds, battles with personal demons. Think of “Gypsey Davey” or “They’re Hanging Me Tonight.” Country music may not have always painted our people in the brightest light, but it was something we could relate to. Whether the tune was Conway Twitty singing about infidelity or George Jones crooning about his problems with drinking and lost love, the music was real. It was Southern. It was ours.
Because of that uniquely Southern character, Country was not widely popular beyond the confines of Dixie. It did very well here, but we are few and the Yankee is many, from a relative and capitalistic perspective. When the old Nashville labels started changing hands around the turn of the 21st century, any sort of discernibly Southern character was removed from the music in an attempt to give it a wider appeal. Gone was Merle Haggard singing about a white boy looking for a place to do his thing. Replacing it was the insipid Jason Aldean, telling his lady “I can take you for a ride on my big green tractor / We can go slow or make it go faster“. The state of our music, like so many things, represents a sad state of affairs. Instead of powerful, meaningful lyrics about a Southron wanting to be back home, we get meaningless pablum designed to appeal to what Yankees think the South is. It’s pop with a Southern accent. Usually.
Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and George Jones may not have always painted the South in the most flattering hues, but they were singing (and more importantly WRITING) of their own heartache, sins, and emotions. There were no professional songwriters designed to win over the wallets of Globohomo INC’s consumerbots. Just real Southern men and women writing of the genuine Southern experience.
The effect of this is clear. Our culture has been seized by carpetbagger record executives and reconstructed artists willing to sell their souls to get a record deal. Real artists have been booted out of Nashville, and are now seeking refuge in Texas and Bakersfield. Real Southern music still exists, but instead of having it conveniently piped into our radios and television sets, we have to go hunting for it. A microcosm of what we, the unreconstructed, face on a daily basis. Our history, our people, our lives are out there. But it is becoming harder and harder to connect to them.
“What is the solution,” you ask? There isn’t an easy one. Nashville might not be as demographically popular with Southrons now as it was in the 70s, but it has expanded roots in Yankeedom. Southern belles don’t like Florida Georgia line, but New York WOOOOOO girls sure do. Seek out and support alternative and outlaw country acts. We cannot guarantee that the good old days will ever return to the Grand Ol’ Opry, but we can keep the candle lit until such time as we rise again and take back our land and our culture from the invader.
Our culture is rich and needs preserving, and music is a key part of that. It’s more than chords and catchy tunes. It can be used to worship God, calm us down, teach us, allow us to grow, empathize with another’s pain, and maybe learn something about our own. Honor the old artists and patronize those who seek to keep their spirit alive in the modern era.
Don’t let the Yankee reduce us to Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean. Take back everything.