Thursday, January 27, 2011

40DLD-11: Country Music

Listening to K-Love, they had Brandon Heath as a guest, who is a native Nashvillian.  He used to idolize Garth Brooks, and apparently was really good at sounding like him.  He also had an accent.  He said some really nice things about Country music, which was surprising to hear on K-Love. 

Country music doesn't get a lot of love in the Christian Music circle.  I can't recall the last time Relevant Magazine had anything by a Country artist, with the exception of Wilco, who are Alt-Country, which is kind of an offshoot of Country that's more Rock, but in a different direction from Southern Rock.  It's hard to explain.  Kings of Leon kinda fall into the same category.  I once heard a youth pastor say, "The only thing worse than Country music is Christian Country music."

There are two possible types of music he was talking about, and I'm not sure which one he meant.  The first is Southern Gospel.  Southern Gospel sounds a lot like Country, but is usually by artists who only do Southern Gospel.  No, it's not purely old hymns, but when you take a Country artist and have him sing an old hymn, you have the basis of a Southern Gospel song.  The only difference is that Southern Gospel artists don't cross over to the mainstream Country side of things.  As it is, there's not a whole lot of market for such a genre in the radio, and Southern Gospel artists tend to be limited to small venues and small labels.  Lots of them seem like garage bands full of white people in their 40's and above who sing at Baptist and independent churches.

The second type is Country artists singing Christian songs.  These songs can range from old hymns redone to specifically Christian songs to songs that give Jesus a shout out.  Contrary to Southern Gospel, these are mainstream Country artists who also have a Christian song on their album.  Today, I tuned my radio to the local Country station because I was tired of my top three choices: K-Love, WWL talk, and Classic Rock.  I noticed today that about one in every three songs was one of the aforementioned types.  There were some like John Michael Montgomery's "The Little Girl" [I haven't heard this song in 10 years and it still makes me cry] and Randy Travis' "Three Wooden Crosses."  Then every few songs happened to mention prayer, church, Jesus, or something to that effect.  You're probably most familiar with Josh Turner's "Long Black Train" or Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel."

But amidst the songs about drinking, loneliness, adultery, etc., the rest of the songs seemed to be about having a good time and what's most important in life.  It's funny how in the Pop realm, we sit there and look at Creed or Chevelle or somebody and say, "Hey, I think they just said 'God,' I wonder if they're a Christian band."  Then you come to the Country side and things are pretty much out in the open.  One song was specifically about how Country music has no problem talking about Jesus.  No, all of these people who claim to be Christians aren't preaching the Gospel at their shows, so we all have stuff to work on.  Then again, you read the "special thanks" section of most rap CD's and Jesus is the first on the list.  I even wrote a song about that in high school which has hopefully been lost to the throes of time and landfills.

So I'll finish off with "The Answer" by Josh Turner, which I discovered one day while looking for "Jesus is the Answer" by Andrae Crouch.  Good songs, both of them. 

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