When I was a kid, the radio stations local to my Appalachian hamlet frequently intermingled nineties pop and rock with country ballads — the latest from the likes of Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks. Since the region’s unofficial mantra was John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” this was hardly surprising.
Nevertheless, it came as a shock to me when I moved to New England, where country music was considered decidedly uncool (it was Santana and Lil’ Jon all the way). Since living further north, I’ve heard plenty of rants about country’s lack of sophistication — such as how it is only ever about a significant other leaving the singer, guns and drinking — that can be unfair and misinformed. Sure, much of what you hear on popular country stations incorporates these themes, but they do not characterize a vibrant genre that encompasses everything from Appalachian folk to traditional Cajun music…. Read more »