The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'country music'
It seems that yesterday quite a few notable people died; among them:
- Kim Thompson, co-founder of venerable independent comics publisher Fantagraphics, who championed both the publishing of new alternative voices and the translation of European bandes dessinées into English; aged 56:
- Melbourne urban planning expert Professor Paul Mees; a tireless advocate of improving public transport in a city running on a 1950s-vintage American vision of wide freeways, one car per adult and public transport as something nobody who can afford a car would use (and thus inherently unworthy of taking Your Tax Money, Suburban Liberal Voter, to fix up for the bums who use it). It's sad that he died so young (at 51), and that in his last months, he would not have seen any signs of his vision coming any closer to realisation; if anything, the signs would have pointed the other way, with the PM-in-waiting announcing that “we don't do urban rail” in Australia and pledging to double up on freeway building.
- Country singer Slim Whitman, whom your parents and/or grandparents may have had in their record collections; he was 90, and while his creative peak was in the early 1950s, his last new album came out in 2010.
- Character actor James Gandolfini, best known for his role in Mafia-themed TV drama The Sopranos; in Italy, aged 51.
Today's big question: does country music increase suicide rates? The authors of this paper think that it does, and that country music fans are at significantly higher risk of suicide than nonfans, for reasons involving gun ownership, marital discord and the inherent job and financial stresses affecting America's working poor (which are often referred to in country song lyrics). The authors of this paper, however, dispute this, claiming methodological errors and that there is no evidence of country music making people more likely to off themselves than any other genre. (Whether music in general, or music with lyrics more specifically, correlates to depression or suicide risk, of course, is another question.)
This evening, I went to see Otis Lee Crenshaw (aka Rich Hall's white-trash country singer persona). I saw him a few years ago, and enjoyed his show then; this one was just as good. This time he was supported musically by two members of some outfit called The Gadflys, including Phil "The Great Muldavio" Moriarty who's also in the Black Sea Gentlemen. Anyway, the routine was quite amusing, with Crenshaw performing a number of songs, improvising with the audience (this show's version of Big Joe was about a printing worker named Winston) and cantankerously ranting about his romantic life, Texas and the poor state of country music today:
What the fuck is wrong with country music? Jesus Christ, the biggest selling song is Toby Keith... You look at one of them fuckers like Garth Brooks with his 14-acre field of felt around his head... he's about as country as a fuckin' bag of wet mice. This man with his bullshit country metaphors, he's 4 foot 3 with friends in low places, yes I believe you do you fucking midget, you're in a low place you prick. "The road is like a woman sometimes..."; what the fuck is that? Who needs to hear that, what is he saying? She's been laid over six or seven counties?... Shania Twain, "that don't impress me much". First of all you're Canadian. Anything would impress you and you know it... Look at Patsy Cline, now that was true country music. Every song she sang was about psychotic breakdowns.
Another reason to be glad you're not in Texas: A man was assaulted and told to "go back to Iraq" for remaining seated while a "patriotic" country song played at a rodeo. (via The Fix)
(Since 9/11, country music has made a resurgence as a sincere voice of American nationalism, and is now well back in the mainstream in the US. I wonder how this will affect the cultural stock of alt-country among hipster types; I can't see the twang having the same amount of ironic cachet in the age of Toby Keith and red-blooded patriot anthems all over Clear Channel.)
More proof that country music is, at the very least, morally dubious: Australian populist redneck politico Pauline Hanson, whose One Nation party made xenophobia mainstream, is planning a career in country and western music.