Friday, April 10, 2009


I've been trying to help some of my online pals understand the allure of country music.

Granted, today, sometimes it's hard to tell the country from the southern rock or the hip hop except by if the singer is wearing a hat or not... but the older country, now, that's a different story.

And those songs were stories. They told you about how that ugly old Strawberry Roan (Chris LeDoux, if you're curious, and Strawberry Roan is the song title) couldn't be ridden, or how he tried to make it to the rodeo on time, and failed.

Those songs told about Momma and Daddy and how they always told their kids to stand tall and deal straight, or all about that little girl down the road and how in love he was with her.

They gave dating advice and life advice and while they accepted that young men and women were going to get wild and go out and have a good time they never advocated anything more serious than a little foolin' around on a bench seat, or a few beers.

If you're interested in that kind of stuff, Chris LeDoux, George Strait, and Garth Brooks will give you a nice mainstream start, and you can branch out from there.

The real old country, the true beginnings of country, told stories of cowboys lost in stampedes, that party at the railhead where Jim got his lights knocked out, whiskey and women and riding for the brand. Cause those songs were written by cowboys, sitting around a fire on a drive, trying to keep from dying of boredom, or riding herd all through the night, trying to stay awake.

I've heard honest to goodness old cowboys, cattle drives and bunkhouse kind of cowboys, singing the songs they learned in their youth. It sends chills, let me tell you.

But truly, the thing that I love about country is that the older stuff, the story songs, can be replicated by anyone with a decent hand at a guitar and a passable singing voice.

Maybe it's me, but I don't think that folks should always have to pay a cover to get entertainment, and some of the best times I've had were accompanied by a six string acoustic, not a sound system.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the new country too. Some of those songs are just fun.

Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band, for instance.

XXL by Keith Anderson is another one.

Well, here's a couple from Trent Willmon that will show you what I mean. If you don't smile or tap your toe watching these, I will surrender:

Beer Man and Dixie Rose Deluxe's

Ya'll enjoy!


Jason M said...

As much I as I like Chris LeDoux, Marty Robbins is who I think of when I hear Strawberry Roan.

Crucis said...

Dixie Rose if definitely a winner. **Snicker!**

Old NFO said...

Agree with Jason- Also Hank Williams Sr. Story songs are a verbal history of the West, but they are becoming lost to history because no one has ever recorded those cowboys... sigh..

Farmgirl said...

Crucis- Doesn't that song just rawk?

OldNFO- Yeah I can't sing a one of those songs... I've only heard them a handful of times and the thing that sticks with you is the emotion in them. The joyful ones make you want to jump up and holler and the sad ones will make you cry.

HollyB said...

Some Texana singer/songwriters you might want to check out are Robert Earl Keen, Charlie Robison, Bruce Robison, Max Stalling, Allen Damron and Tim Henderson. Allen and Tim were two of the founders of the Kerrville Folk Festival, btw.

Assrot said...

I think Mary Robbins was probably the best Country & Western musician I ever listened to in my younger days.

There is no such thing as real Country & Western music anymore. All the good musicians either died off or retired in the last twenty years or so.

You just don't see or hear the style and talent that Marty Robbins, Porter Wagner, Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Tammie Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, etc. have anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I like southern rock but it doesn't hold a candle to the old school country music from back in the good old days.


Chris M said...

You are so right about the older, the real country that wasn't written by lawyers and a synth backup, was about stories. Real life stories and real people with real emotions.

As for the "cowboy" artists, if you're not familiar with Red Steagal, see if you can find some of his stuff. I think you'll like it.

Zdogk9 said...

Jimmy Rodgers. Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, and about a zillion others.

Old NFO said...

Agreed FG, agreed!

Christina LMT said...

I like country music because it tells a story and the songs are SINGABLE. I really love Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her songs often make me tear up.

misbeHaven said...

I agree w/ Jason M... Strawberry Roan = Marty Robbins. One of my favorite voices. Most of the country music I like was made before I was born, or at least when I was a young'un. Out of the more current performers, I like Ian Tyson and Dave Stamey best. Chris LeDoux is good, too. Garth Brooks' first two albums were made of awesome, but then he changed his sound and got too pop for me.

Diane said...

With old country, you hear a few bars and you instantly know who is singing - voices were distinctive. Lyrics could be understood (and sung along with). These days, even though I listen a good deal of time to the country station, I can't always tell who's singing until the DJ tells me.

mustanger said...

I know I'm a few days late with this, but...

I have Michael Martin Murphy's "Rhymes of the Renegades" tape. He has a duet of "Strawberry Roan" with Chris LeDoux. I can't get into "El Paso", but Mr. Murphy did also record several other Marty Robbins song I do like... "Big Iron", for example. I practically wore out the paper with the historical notes. Oh, and "Strawberry Roan"... Curly Fletcher wrote it after his horse bucked off Will James. And the song about Billy the Kid... he said the song is so badly inaccurate, yet it's a gem. "The Outlaw Belle Starr", on the other hand, seems pretty accurate and has a melody that stuck in my head for the last 15 years.

Did ya'll see Mike Huckabee's tv show on FOXNEWS this last weekend? Ray Price and Willy Nelson were on there. In between commentary, they did "Faded Love" and "Crazy". I really enjoyed it.

I've enjoyed what I've heard of Red Steagall's work, as well as Don Edwards. Wal-Mart... or "Chinamart" as I call it... don't seem to carry them around here. "Riders in the Sky"... those guys can sing too. The fourth guy with the accordian... he adds a lot to their sound, in my opinion.

I'll probably think of a bunch more after I hit the send button.

Keith said...

I know it's a little late, but how about Willmon's "Good Horses to Ride"?