Paging Hank Williams


The first recordings of music that I can remember hearing was of Hank Williams. I distinctly remember him singing about “Kawliga,” that poor old wooden head, and “Hey Good Lookin'”. Being from a devout home managed by a fervent Pentecostal Christian mama, I was also exposed to her Gospel favorites, including the Inspirations, Happy Goodmans and Rambos.

(I’m unsure of her knowledge of the stack of 45’s which featured The Beatles and assorted Motown favorites which were kept securely in my brothers’ bedrooms. But I digress.)

I’ve always had eclectic musical tastes, which is to say I enjoy pretty much all forms of music. I figure there are two kinds of music: good, and bad. (Rap and hip hop do not make my cut.)

Thus, if I owned an iPad, it would be stocked with songs from all across the spectrum. Pavarotti to Ray Charles, George Jones to Van Halen. (or Van Hagar, preferably.)

Charley Pride to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Muddy Waters to The Police.

But no Village People.

And of course, Van Morrison, the greatest of them all.

Anyway, if the mood ever calls for country music, as it did with my last IRS audit, I can be assured that if I turn the radio dial (remember radio dials, kids?) to the local country music station the last thing I’ll hear is country music.

Instead, I’ll have my senses invaded with what is billed as country, but surely ain’t, and my reaction will be akin to the reaction my mother likely had when she finally heard a few bars of Otis Redding leaking out of the aforementioned bedroom.

Expecting to hear Merle Haggard or Waylon Jennings, instead my ears get tortured with some punk who is rapping his way through what I’m told is a country song. When I want crooning and wailing, I get shuckin’ and jivin,’ with some white boy trying to do his imitation of Sir Mix-A-Lot, Grand Ol Opry style.

Seriously, dude. You never heard of a steel guitar?

I’m not sure when country left town, but I suspect it was well before George Strait got his leg broke in Santa Fe. The crap that is billed as country music today is some monstrous invention from a gaggle of man-bun-sporting producers who have taken Nashville hostage. They’ve turned it into a non-musical cesspool of freakish white boy hip hop wanna-bes who Conway Twitty would likely love to come back from the grave and lay a smack-down on, while reassuring us all that it’s only make believe.

The musical lines today are blurred beyond comprehension. In the great musical decade, the 1970’s, rock was rock, country was country, and classical musical was way down on the left of the dial, only played if you were coming home from a dentist heavily medicated after having a tooth extracted.

Nobody plays Johnny Cash anymore, or for that matter, Roy Orbison, or even Elvis, for pete’s sakes. Instead, we get assaulted by some teenage gal warbling some tuneless monologue about the boy she met down at Hormone Beach, or some thug belching his list of beefs about the cops, or his baby mama.

Where have you gone, Marty Robbins?


Every song I hear on what are billed as country music stations is a monotonous montage of distorted guitars, beat-box nonsense and unintelligible lyrics. You don’t feel happy the way you did with Jerry Reed, you don’t have your guts ripped out by George Jones, and you never hear from the Coal Miner’s Daughter. Instead, you pound your dash, and switch the station to talk radio, fully aware that these young punks are filling arenas with millennials who wouldn’t know what to say if Conway stood in their doorway and growled “Hello, Darlin.”

Perhaps it’s a symptom of middle age, as I transition from starry eyed thirty-something to a contrarian pushing 60. Whatever the case, I swear I’m not turning into Lawrence Welk. But for the love of Ferlin Husky, what on earth is going on here?

We’ve replaced wailing sentiments and four-chord samples with a barrage of grunts and something that sounds like a cigar box full of sick frogs. We’ve replaced The Eagles with LL Jammy Juice and The Distortions.

And did you ever see Mel Tillis singing with his shirttail hanging out?


Whatever it is you wish to hear, you won’t find it on your radio anymore, unless you favor this steaming pile of un-listenable nonsense. And why must every third word rhyme?

If I ever loved it, I stopped loving this today.

Take me home, country roads.

© Copyright 2017 Tim Holcombe

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