inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #26 of 64: Ed Ward (captward) Sun 23 Dec 07 05:29
    
It's particularly rife in music-writing, though, which is why it's
nearly impossible to get a "real" contract for a "real" music book. The
last couple of agents I talked to weren't interested in pitching any.
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #27 of 64: My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Sun 23 Dec 07 10:11
    
chris--does the book also include any of your photos?  Either older photos
or ones you made specifically for the book?
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #28 of 64: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sun 23 Dec 07 16:45
    
<26> I have rarely spent much time sitting around thinking "damn, if
only I'd become a non-fiction writer!"

I tried self-publishing as a workaround.  Sold, hmmm... about 400
copies so far.
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #29 of 64: Chris Carroll (marvy) Sun 23 Dec 07 18:13
    
Yeah, I was (naively I suppose) kind of flummoxed by it: so cool to be
writing a book on country music, and being paid! Then I realized how much
actual work it was to crank out 1200 words a day for a while and thought,
"sheesh, if I got more of this work I could go broke on volume".

And yes, Pat, I have one picture in the book. A real old one (well, old for
me, was one of my first professional shoots, probably in 1987 or so), Merle
Haggard. I had no idea who he was at the time, but now he's one of my faves.
And since I had the shot I figured "what the heck?" and offered it to Hylas.
They snapped it up and it's a full page and on the back cover, too.

And coming from my photo background, it was interesting then frustrating
being only involved with the literary side. At first it was liberating not
worrying about the pictures. And the book itself was 8.5 x 11. But the
publisher literally blew up the book on press. Everyone at the packager, and
Liz and myself were shocked to get these huge envelopes from Amazon. It was
never intended to be a coffee table book. That's when my interest turned to
frustration, then pique, then disgust. Not to put too fine a point on it,
but if they were going to make it so big they should have made it beautiful
too. They apparently got a deal from one provider who claimed to have all
the shots they'd need. And those shots are (imho) almost uniformly weak. I
don’t know details because I was just the writer, but it just looks like
they cheaped out and found somebody who had pictures of all the artists. But
lots of the pictures are just lame live performance shots. And the repro is
terrible. It was great to write, but frankly kind of heartbreaking to the
photographer in me.

The cover makes me want to cry. I mean, Johnny Cash, yeah, sure Legend. Brad
Paisley? Well, maybe it will help bring in the kids or something. Faith
Hill? Absolutely, how can you go wrong with a picture of such a luminous
creature. Oh, I know! Find absolutely the worst freakin' paparazzi shot
EVER, then reproduce it as badly as possible. Girl looks like she's dirty,
and not in the fun way. I mean, like she has a sheen of dirt on her. What on
earth were they thinking?

(Meanwhile, from the attempting to unbite the hand that feeds us department:
it’s a swell book anyway, really, just ignore the soiled woman on the
cover…)
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #30 of 64: John Ross (johnross) Sun 23 Dec 07 19:04
    
Did you do much actual listening to old (or new) records by each performer
as you wrote the book? Did you compile the discography and greatest hits
lists? What were the criteria for inclusion in either list?
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #31 of 64: Chris Carroll (marvy) Mon 24 Dec 07 04:19
    
Tons. Back in the dark ages I worked at a music magazine. And while we
certainly reviewed our share of clunkers, mostly we reviewed records we
liked. Why tell people about crap? I tried to take a little of that attitude
with me to this book. Why is this person a legend? What's cool about them?
Why might somebody like listening to their music? To that end, I'd listen to
them while writing each entry. Some of the artists I already knew well, so
it was easier, but for those I was less familiar with it really helped to
have their music on while I worked. I noticed a difference in the way Liz
and I worked: she was much more into the source books, tracking down where
people fit in the grand scheme of things. I seemed more inclined to just
listen to the music, over and over, to try to glean just a bit of that magic
out of the sound.

The "Hits" that are included with every entry we did as we were doing each
one (we'd find the quotations, too). However I think someone at Hylas did
the discography. Or maybe Liz did, I don't actually recall, though I know I
didn't. By the time we got to the end, we were both exhausted and it was a
real crunch to get it all done. Liz will be by shortly to add details, but I
believe someone else came in at the end and helped with the discography.
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #32 of 64: Liz Mechem (thelizwiz) Tue 25 Dec 07 20:02
    
Yes, to pick up on this question, the discography was done last of
all. I put together the discography, and drew on the great (doubtless
someone will chime in shortly to disabuse me of this notion) and
seemingly extensive information on allmusic.com. By the time we had
written the bios, researched the nuggets and quotes, complied lists of
greatest hits, and dug through our own record collections, it wasn't
too much of a stretch to know which were the important albums. 
Sometimes, with some artists, it was simple -- from the beginning of
the rock era to the present, most of these artists come out with a
handful of records a decade. For artists like Alabama (the guys who
made country into kegger music for the handlebar mustache and "WOOOOO!"
crowd), there are about 10 records tops that can go in to the greatest
hits list.  I ignored everyone's Christmas records (a die-hard country
music tradition, even before the culture wars), and pruned as best I
could. I'm sure I left off someone's favorite Johnny Cash release, for
example. The great and prolific artists, and crooners like Eddy Arnold
or Gentleman Jim Reeves -- both products and proponents of the postwar
Nashville Sound -- put out tons of records, sometimes two or three a
year. The producers lined up the session musicians, selected the songs,
and the singer sort of sidled in to the studio, crooned a few takes,
and presto! a new platter was born. Not too hard to crank out a few of
these a year.

John, if you're still there, this feeds in to an earlier question of
yours, about when the major shifts in country music fall. This studio
system was one of the big changes, and its dominance led to a backlash
in the form of the so-called Outlaw movement of the late sixties --
Waylon, Willie, et al, who favored the singer-songwriter approach.
Funny thing though, is that the same producer-driven system that you
can revile as "the man" if you're tooting the Outlaws' horn is the same
system that gave us Owen Bradley producing those gorgeous Patsy Cline
records.  And what unknown songwriter was churning out hits for them?
Willie Nelson, for starters ("Crazy", eg.)

Chris is right, I am more of the big-picture person, trying to trace
influences and trends and movements, but really, the fact is, it does
come down to the music coming out of those speakers, or the voice of
Hank Williams howling out "Your Cheatin' Heart." When the needle hits
the record, who really cares where in the historic continuum this cut
or that disc can be placed; they're right here, right now, oozing heart
and heartbreak, reminding you of what you already know. That's why we
keep playing them. 
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #33 of 64: John Ross (johnross) Tue 25 Dec 07 20:53
    
Yeah, I'm still there. Or here.

There's a recent book about the history of WSM (the home of the Grand Old
Opry) that puts the beginnings of the music industry in Nashville into
context. In the postwar years, WSM was a "full service" radio station, and
the Opry was just one of its regular programs (and not the only one they fed
to NBC). A couple fo their engineers started to record some of the singers
on the Opry in a spare WSM studio, and eventually moved up the street to
their own studio. They had a lot of work because the Opry provided a regular
income to a bunch of singers who made Nashville their home base. The whole
industry built itself up from there.

Any thoughts about how the audience for country music has changed? The
earliest records (Eck Robertson, Vernon Dahlhart) were sold as part of the
general "novelty" catalog, along with bird calls, "Unlce Josh goes to Town"
comedy, and xlyophone players. But by the late 1920's it was a regional
market, like the "race" market for blues. Today, thanks to national TV
(starting with Porter Waggoner in 1960), it's a nationwide audience. When
and how dod that shift happen?
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #34 of 64: Liz Mechem (thelizwiz) Sat 29 Dec 07 06:54
    
John,
I love that you mentioned Vernon Dalhart, such an odd bird in the
country music pantheon. His career shows you just how open to
suggestion both the early country music industry (not that there really
was one in the 20s, until the shift you describe above) and the early
recording industry were. Dalhart sang opera, came to New York to make
it in that field, but wound up recording some novelty country songs.
The music was initially seen as regional southern music. In some ways
it still is; much of the new country artists promoted now by CMT, guys
like Brad Paisley and Trace Adkins, are southern boys, from West
Virginia and Louisiana, respectively.  But then you have newcomers like
Taylor Swift, a blonde cutie whose first big hit, "Tim McGraw" was
country-referential, and she's from PA. You could say that the common
link here is white and rural, but even that gets turned over by acts
like Cowboy Troy and Sugarland, who are black and Atlanta-based,
respectively. It's hard to tell what makes an act "country" these days,
except what the marketing machine tells us is country.

Which brings us to the story behind the music that you keep hinting
at: the marketing of country to a wider audience. Call it exposure, and
it sounds as if this music travelled by word of mouth and strum of
banjo all over the world. But it was broadcasting that made it branch
out. Radio, recording, and now the huge image machine of Country Music
Television, that dominates the industry and seems to determine who gets
into the club and who doesn't. 

How did we get from the Carter Family to CMT? Certainly Porter Wagoner
and even Hee Haw brought country music onto TV sets across America
from the 50s on. But it wouldn't have stuck unless it had struck a
nerve, which it did. Just as Westerns, which have little to do with
most of our lives or ancestry, have become this emblem of some imagined
common past, so country music seems to many to be an affirmation of
our common roots. Personally, of the newer bunch, I favor artists who
honor their roots, like Alison Krauss and Lucinda Williams and Lyle
Lovett and Wilco.  Artists who can spin a good yarn, who arent' so
plugged in that the spotlights are blinding them to the real music
under there. 

Here's a cool site with some new artists to check out as well:

http://www.gumbopages.com/music/insurgent.html

I like his designation "insurgent country." The audience for country
isn't one audience; it's many. And country isn't just one music anymore
either. Fact is, it never was. All the various strains that came
together in the early days separate out and recombine to form myriad
new combinations. 
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #35 of 64: Liz Mechem (thelizwiz) Sat 29 Dec 07 07:14
    
Forgot to mention this site:

http://www.freighttrainboogie.com/

Good reviews and notices about lots of alt.country. And I like that
it's named for a song by the Delmore Brothers, one of the great singing
brother acts of the 30s and 40s.
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #36 of 64: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sat 29 Dec 07 08:05
    
Nice site!
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #37 of 64: John Ross (johnross) Sat 29 Dec 07 11:32
    
I think the first part of the transition would have been World War II. The
war had two specific impacts: the mixing of economic and cultural calsses in
the military meant that many soldiers and sailors from outside the South
were exposed to country music because it was playing on records and radio;
and many people from the South moved north and west to work in defense
plants, and they brought their music with them, in the same way that blues
moved to Chicago and Detroit with the Black migration.

As I think about it, this would have started earlier, when the Okies and
Arkies moved to California in the 1930s. That's certainly the origin of
Bakersfield as a country music center.

Liz, do you have an opinion about Robert Altman's "Nashville" as a portrayal
of the country music ethos?
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #38 of 64: Chris Carroll (marvy) Sat 29 Dec 07 14:05
    
(heh, thinking I would check in here, but the "Nashville" question is such a
softball for Liz (it's one of her favorite flicks) that I think I'll go make
dinner instead...)
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #39 of 64: Liz Mechem (thelizwiz) Sat 29 Dec 07 15:45
    
Bakersfield sound!  We love it. Chris has a little band he plays with
and is always trying to Buck-ify them. Who can resist? "Who's Gonna Mow
Your Lawn?" Why if it weren't for Buck Owens, we'd never have had the
Ventures, and then Hendrix never would have been able to growl "You
will never hear surf music again." So, this stuff is important. 

Certainly the migrations of the dustbowl brought rural Southern music
west and from there, all over.  Film didn't hurt, either, as the
western sounds of groups like Sons of the Pioneers (whose founding
member, Leonard Slye is better known as Roy Rogers) graced many a movie
soundtrack of the 40s. And post-war, the crossover country-pop artists
who plied the Countrypolitan and Nashville sounds made the music even
more mainstream. So there are a few ways it gets disseminated: it gets
spread about in its pure form(s), and it also becomes a mestizo form as
it merges with the dominant popular music of the day (pop crooners,
rock, soft rock, etc.)

So, Nashville the movie. When I was a young person in the 70s, and
movies could be seen only in movie theaters, the arrival of Nashville
in one of the fine rep houses of San Francisco was a cause for mild
celebration. A friend would call and say, "The movie is playing!" THE
movie meant Nashville. We loved it. It WAS country to us. We loved the
kitsch and the pathos. What did we know? I still think some of the
songs are amazing, the way they show the range and the variety and the
competing strains of the music. And the actors do a great job of
singing, I think. Karen Black! Keith Carradine! Ronnee Blakely! And of
course, Henry Gibson as Haven Hamilton. And now that I know who all the
singers were based on (Lynn Anderson, Kristofferson, Loretta, and
Acuff, respectively), it's even more fun. I can't believe even now that
most of those songs were written as well as performed by the actors.
It may point to how formulaic country had become in the 70s ("For the
sake of the children, we must say goodbye" is one of those calculated
tearjerkers that the industry thrived on -- and still does, viz all the
current songs about domestic abuse, etc.)  But darn, "It Don't Worry
Me," penned improbably by Keith Carradine, is the kind of song that
gets under your skin with its deceptive simplicity. Great stuff.

I could go on and on. Mainly now I see how Altman himself was doing
this post-modern embrace of country music and the version of America he
allows it to present in the film.  He loves it, we love it --  the big
mess of jingoism ("We must be doin' something right to last 200
years"), celebrity culture, random violence, crazy politics, sexism and
more! But we can only embrace it from a critical distance, Altman says
with a wink, because, after all, we know better. We are enlightened;
we get the joke. So Altman invites us to both mock and revere country
music and culture. Which is why the real country establishment hated
it. But I have to admit its influence on my view of country music,
vis-a-vis the critical distance. I love Dolly Parton, but I am not
going to take my hairstyling tips from her. I love Loretta Lynn, but
what do I know from a one-room shack in Appalachia? I don't, not
directly. But I suspect that somewhere back in my bloodline, there was
some Scots-Irish family eking out a living and playing the same music
around their hearth that contributed to the roots of country. So, it's
mine too.
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #40 of 64: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sat 29 Dec 07 16:17
    
I have always thought that one big transition in country music was
when there stopped being a significant audience that had really lived
the hardcore, pre-mechanized rural life.  Even the youngest performers
who experienced that life saw it only as kids and are now getting up
there in years (Dolly and Loretta being two examples).  The ones who
experienced it as young adults (Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins) are mostly
gone.

When I worked as a forklift driver in Dallas in the early 80s, I knew
billions of those folks, then in their 40s, 50s, and early 60s.  Moved
to the big city during or after WW II.  Those people would now be way
too old for the record industry to care about or passed on.

And I had an interesting experience when I finally moved out of Dallas
c. 1983.  Went through rural Arkansas, way up in the hills, on the way
back.  And yeah, there were a few tiny shreds of that life.  But
mostly I saw abandoned cabins and hill-country farmsteads.  Parts of
the area were so depopulated that they'd been declared wilderness
areas, despite the presence of old cemeteries, etc.

I guess I'm still having trouble figuring out what country music after
1980 is all about.  Living in a small town.  Working hard for a
living.  Drinking and cheating and falling in love.  But is it still
"country?"  I dunno.
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #41 of 64: "The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Sat 29 Dec 07 16:29
    
I was working out of Nashville when the movie was released.   The reason the
establishment hated it was that it nailed the scene.   Nailed it.   It was,
as they say, emotionally true.

Now things have turned over completely since then and I have no idea what
it's like there now, but Nashville in the mid to late 70s felt just like
Altman's "Nashville".
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #42 of 64: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sat 29 Dec 07 17:30
    
What I like about some country music is that it tells stories about
people with husbands and wives and kids. There's not a lot of that in
rock.
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #43 of 64: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sat 29 Dec 07 18:06
    
That's so obvious I hadn't thought of it.
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #44 of 64: Liz Mechem (thelizwiz) Sun 30 Dec 07 08:33
    
Rik, thanks for the check-in on Nashville in the 70s.  What a
wonderful circus that must have been! You must have seen some great
performances then.  Share some of those memories with us if you get a
chance.

Yes, Sharon, you're so right, that much rock, unless it's the
so-called "soft" variety, really focuses on a moment in your life, the
young, unfettered, unsettled time of energy and confusion. Which is why
we all are so nostalgic about the rock music of our own youth. This
probably has a lot to do with the origins of the music as opposed to
the origins of country. Well, of course, country itself was a birth
parent of rock and roll. But country was born before youth culture was.
When young people and dressed and danced and listened to music like
their elders did. And that music came out of church revivals and front
porch rocking chairs and work songs. Community, in other words.

Mark, working as a Dallas forklift driver is about as country
street-cred as you can get. Ever work as a lineman for the county? And
your question dangles there as the $64,000 one. What is country music
after 1980, after the rural hardscrabble life you describe had nearly
disappeared. I still think, glitz of the CMT awards notwithstanding,
that much of the new country music that I don't particularly care for,
is still rural and white. One other thing it is now that it wasn't as
much in the old days: angry. Oh, sure, there's bitterness and remorse
aplenty in old country songs. But I wonder whether a lot of new country
still does reflect the blue collar concerns of the day. Except that
now, those concerns are largely about becoming disenfranchised. You
still have the "You broke my heart so I busted your jaw" kind of
cheatin' woman songs, but there's a lot of variations on take this job
and shove it. And a fair share of nationalistic pro-Bush pro-war songs.


We live part of the year in Sullivan County, New York, up in the
forgotten part of the Catskills.  There's no industry there because the
state owns much of the land as watershed for NYC. It's one of the
poorest counties in the state. Lots of people living in trailers, with
weekly yard sales in front, trying to scare up a few nickels from an
old jelly jar or two.  Most working people are just getting by. And the
music of choice, up there in the this cold county, is country.  It
isn't regional anymore, I think it's blue collar, white and rural,
wherever you are. Down the hill from our cabin is Liberty, NY, a town
that crumbled when the Borscht Belt collapsed, There's a sizable black
community there, but you don't hear country coming from their car
windows, you hear hip-hop. It's not urban, it's cultural. Same way
country is. Maybe it's a function of the marketing machine that tells
people to buy the brands that will define them as the person they
aspire to be, but people seem to listen to the music that speaks to
their concerns. 

One thing you can't get around with country music, though, is the
almost sacrosanct emphasis on melody. It's one of the most endearing
traits of the music. You can sing along. It's straightforward and
plain-speaking. It can take a complicated problem and boil it down to a
well-turned, simple phrase set to a simple, singable, 2/4 melody. 
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #45 of 64: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sun 30 Dec 07 11:32
    
Yeah, I know Sullivan Country a little from a former life (used to
have a close friend there, but he died quite a while back).  It struck
me as a pretty forgotten and sorta desperate place, and there are
places in that category all over New York State (try Gloversville!).

I think you make a good point about country now functioning as the
music of disenfranchised rural whites everywhere.  Even in more
prosperous corners of rural America, rural whites seem to feel very at
sea and ignored (a feeling that's certainly been stoked by the last
generation or so of the GOP).  There is an edge and an anger to much of
the music -- imagine someone today releasing a song like Donna Fargo's
"Happiest Girl in the Whole USA."

I got a distressed email from an old pal the other day who had
stumbled across some hyper-patriotic Toby Keith song on Youtube and was
convinced that brownshirts would be marching in the streets any day
now. 
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #46 of 64: John Ross (johnross) Sun 30 Dec 07 13:38
    
I'm not so sure that "disenfranchised" is exactly right. If we assume that
the country music marketing machine is a media invention, and like all media
inventions it exists to sell itself and advertising to its audience, what is
the point of aiming that advertising at people who can't afford to buy those
pickup trucks and fast food? Seems like the target would be one step up from
the true hardscrabble folks, the people who are struggling to keep from
falling off the ladder.

It's my impression that the Country Music Establishment (CMT, the Opry, most
radio) is much more controlling than other forms of popular music. Outside
of a few places like Austin, and even fewer radio stations like KPIG, there
does not seem to be a place for a country equivilent to "indie rock." Or is
there? Why hasn't the KPIG format evolved into a more widely-used radio
format?

And one more question, inspired by (mcdee)'s comment about Toby Keith: has
the extreme red state/blue state  political and cultural division been
reflected in the location of today's country music audiences? Is it still a
nationwide phenomenon or is it regressing to its regional roots?
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #47 of 64: "The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Sun 30 Dec 07 14:42
    
Liz, I was in Dr. Hook, which was considered rock/pop when we first hit, but
a lot of our early stuff would fall in the alt country category when looked
at by today's standards.   Our entre into Nashville, in 1974, was by way of
Shel Silverstein, who wrote most of our first three albums at the same time
that he was supplying songs to Loretta Lynn, Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings,
and Johnny Cash.

We showed up as insurgents, recording at Tompall Glaser's studio right after
he, Waylon and Willie had just released the "Outlaws" album.   The old guard
had been there forever, and country was moving uptown, forsaking the Ryman
for Opryland.  Shel, on the other hand, had caused a bit of a stir by
refusing to put "Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame" on the back of his
album.   But in spite of the company we kept, we were respectful of the old
guard, and we had come to Nashville two gold records and were on our way to
a third.  So they let us in.   We even wound up at Opryland, opening for
Dolly, who is a totally class act.   We even stole her road guitarist, Rod
Smarr, when we lost Bob Henke, who we had stolen from Goose Creek Sympnony.

Nashville in the 70s was in flux.   As far as the city business
establishment was concerned, Nashville was insurance companies and the like,
and country was the crazy aunt in the attic.   But she'd just inherited a
bunch of bucks and people were having to be nicer to her.  By the late 70s
she was getting respect and people were coming by to visit her.

That was when Altman made "Nashville", and showed the place to be insular,
tight, and not that much different than high school.   And the talent that
was flooding in were all young kids who grew up listening to as much rock
and R&B as country.  And the studio guys could play anything, including
jazz.   The old guard never knew what hit them, and they HATED "Nashville".
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #48 of 64: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 30 Dec 07 20:01
    
Toby Keith is a Democrat whose dad got killed in an automobile
accident caused by someone who fled the scene and couldn't be tracked
down for six months. I think he's entitled to be angry.
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #49 of 64: Chris Carroll (marvy) Mon 31 Dec 07 06:01
    
Well, he may well have his reasons, but playing a rabid Bush supportin'
knucklehead on TV and stage is sure a strange way to show it.

I'm reminded of a conversation I had in Claryville with a super conservative
old gentleman, retired DEC Officer and guitar player. We were discussing
Willie Nelson after one of his pot busts. I was feeling sympathetic towards
ol' Willie for a number of reasons, but I figured Bill would be all over
him. The recent bust was the elephant in the room, and after dancing around
the
issue a while, I outright asked what he thought. "Well..." long pause. "I
don't much respect his lifestyle choices. But he's a damn fine songwriter so
I guess I'll cut him some slack..."
  
inkwell.vue.316 : Chris Carroll and Liz Mechem, "Legends of Country"
permalink #50 of 64: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Mon 31 Dec 07 07:04
    
My experience with very conservative folks, which is fairly
considerable given that I'm basically an old hippie, is that when you
get up close the picture usually gets a lot more complicated.  The % of
people who are brain-dead everything is black and white freeper idiots
is pretty tiny.

I guess that's why I was not particularly upset by watching the Toby
Keith video, although I'm with Chris on scratching my head over it.  I
guess I find Charlie Daniels' transformation from the backwoods quasi
libertarian of "Long Haired Country Boy" days into a hyper-patriot to
be more puzzling.

But it's a pattern you see a lot in the white blue collar rural/small
town culture we've been talking about: anti-authoritarian
authoritarians.  People who are happy to tell you about how ornery and
independent they are, but don't be running down Nixon, Reagan, Bush, or
whatever war their kids are dying in for no good reason at the moment.

That's one thing I've noticed in reading the Iraqi war news -- boy,
it's really small-town America, *very* small town America, that's
fighting this one.  A really high proportion of the dead are from
places I've never been or even heard of, and like the song says, I've
been everywhere.
  

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