Back in MY Day: “Country” Music

Chillin with Jay FarrarWhat’s the deal with all this “rootsy Americana?” The only fad more popular than starting a synthy dance band is starting a “country” or “folk” or “southern rock/hillbilly/country/folk” band. And the only thing it makes me want to do more than retch is hurl! Particularly rock bands turning “country” — could there be a bigger cliché at this point? It was “ironic” when the Supersuckers did it a million years ago but now it’s just sad.

With all due respect to Ms. Maxand, perhaps ahab stays in England because we already have the Maldives, Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes, Sera Cahoone, Joshua Morrison, the Moondoggies, Ravenna Woods, the Tallboys, Ghosts I’ve Met, Whalebones, David Bavas, Pufferfish, the Dexter Street Stompers, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, the Foghorns, Mostly Dimes, Amateur Radio Operator, the Legendary Oaks, the Cave Singers, Jesse Sykes, Neko Case, Sunday Evening Whiskey Club, Mississippi Painful, Jeremy Burk, the Contraband Country Band, Kaylee Cole, Shanandoah Davis, etc. etc. etc!!! And that’s just the Northwest. And it’s a partial list.

Yes, I get it, Oh Brother Where Art Thou was a good fun movie, and that George Clooney song was really affecting. But how does that translate into growing a beard, renouncing your soap, and pretending that it’s 1975 and you’re a Doobie Brother?

Sure, being in bands is all about affectation. But when everyone adopts the same one, that’s the signal that it’s time to stop. Like those really big glasses all the girls are wearing. Stop that! This ground is so well-worn and re-trod that it’s turned to mud. The music scene’s now stuck in it. Stuck in rootsy mud. Do not turn that into a song!

And affectation is what it is. I believe the Head and the Heart when they say they’re “singing hallelujah for the first time,” because I don’t buy that they grew up Southern Baptist in Alabama. Yes, I believe that you in fact never sang hallelujah before. You’re from Ballard, people! Put some damn shoes on.

So it’s time to branch out, geniuses! Robin Pecknold, how about finishing that death metal album? Jason Dodson, electroclash is calling your name! Even Wilco stopped playing that country stuff. Let’s invent that next thing, and take that next step, and put away the banjo already.

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10 Responses to Back in MY Day: “Country” Music

  1. Levi Fuller says:

    Mr. Rooney’s comments, like those of his namesake, in no way reflect the thoughts of the management. (Hey, did I mention that Ball of Wax showcase coming up on the Indie Roots stage at Folklife this Memorial Day weekend? Um, yeah.)

  2. Hahaha. Jumping the shark and all that 🙂

  3. Nikki Benson says:

    Yo,

    If it’s not your thing, don’t listen.

    $25 please.

    • Indie Rooney says:

      Wait, how do I owe you $25?

      • Nikki Benson says:

        Back in my day, there was a joke about going to see the doctor. You’d say to the doctor, “Doctor, it hurts when turn my neck this way.” Then the doctor would then say, “Don’t turn your neck that way. Twenty-five dollars please.”

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  5. Olie Eshleman says:

    You could write the same article and insert “rock” and choose some different bands. The only problem is that rock music is not a folk form, its pop music, as is dance-punk. Whereas, country music is a “folk” music of sorts and carries with it cultural trappings that extend beyond the music. You might have a similar problem deciding to make “latin” album when there is nothing remotely “latin” about you or your band as people, no matter how well you can play the music. Except this would be an even graver error. You cannot don culture like a coat with pissing someone off and/or making bad art.
    So the question remains, what makes a person culturally “country”? Do you have to be from the south? Do you have to be a Hick? I can think of several revered country musicians that are neither from the south nor from the a remotely rural part of the country. I will confess that someone singing like a hick when they exhibit perfect diction while speaking is insanely annoying. I was raised on country music and though I grew up in the NW burbs, it is as soothing and familiar as any music could be to me. I do not pretend to know what makes one an Authentic Country Musician.
    Whether or not I have any right to play country music is either a non-question or a matter of taste. I will admit that pretentiousness, in-authenticity, and cultural misappropriation, are highly distracting and can ruin anything.
    But, yes, if you don’t like it, don’t listen. I don’t listen to dance-punk.
    That was really long winded, sorry!

    • Olie Eshleman says:

      Sentence should read: “You cannot don culture like a coat withOUT pissing someone off and/or making bad art.”

  6. Richard Manveal says:

    Any curmudgeon worth his weight would be more outraged at the state of facial hair at independent musical events. I have always admired Mr. Rooney’s attention to his own toilet routine. I hope in the future he is more generous with his judgement on the youth of America.

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