Politics In Country Music

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					     Politics In Country Music
• “Country music” is also called “country and
  western” music.
• It is a 20th century style of music
  originating from predominantly southern
  and western areas of the United States.
• It was originally called “hillbilly music.”
• The composers and performers of country
  music have traditionally been white.
• In the beginning, the music focused on the
  traditions of English, Irish, and Scottish
  settlers in the southern states, especially in
  the Appalachian Mountains.
• Ballads are the dominant musical form.
• The songs often have stories, many of
  which are historically based.
• Early country music focused used fiddles.
• Country music evolved during he 20th
  century, becoming more complex
• Film stars, such as Gene Autry, creatively
  altered country music to have a more
  “western” flavor.
• Country music was also influenced by the
  swing rhythms of jazz, and new
  instrumentation helped transform it into an
  electronic phenomenon compatible with
  modern and popular dance venues.
• Most country music has a love orientation,
  as is true of most “pop” music today.
• However, a significant amount of country
  music uses the traditional story format of
  country music lyrics to convey political
• The result has been that country music now
  represents a sub-region and its popular and
  largely political culture in the U.S.
• There is representational quality to this.
• Some of the country music that departed most
  significantly from the traditional country-folk
  form was called “outlaw music,” and was
  pioneered by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.
• They blended rock rhythms with country’s
  instrumentation while maintaining the intimate
  and reflective nature of traditional country lyrics.
• This had connections with musical styles called
  “Southern rock” and “country rock.” These latter
  styles originated on the West Coast (mostly Los
  Angeles) driven by West Coast immigrants from
  the South.
• The political content of country music was a
  direct outgrowth of country’s desire to tell
• Much country music represents an
  emotional outlet for people who are
  generally poor and who have relatively
  lower levels of education and (importantly)
• Country music tell their stories, and these
  are stories that are often filled with tragedy.
• When country music acts as a representational
  venue for political content, it often has a patriotic
• This in part is due to a traditionally high level of
  involvement within the U.S. military of young
  people from the South.
• Country music has a tension in the southern vs.
  U.S. dialectic. Thus, there is a political tension in
  much of country music since it represents a people
  that have historically been marginalized in U.S.
  national politics.
• This has changed in recent decades.
• Country music also can be used to support
  specific political interests, or interests with
  political perspectives.
• A good example of specialized use of
  country music is Johnny Cash’s album,
  “Bitter Tears,” which is about the Native
  American historical experience.
• This album is highly political, and the lyrics
  strongly support Native American political
  and social views.
• On the other end of the scale, country music
  has been used to support ideological
  perspectives of very narrow segments of
  American (and especially Southern) society.
  Some of these perspectives are highly
  offensive to other Americans.
• Perhaps the best (or worst, depending on
  your point of view) example of such
  country music is the highly racist,
  homophobic, obscene, and misogynist
  songs of David Allan Coe.

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