Mudcat Café message #4011135 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #166661   Message #4011135
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
29-Sep-19 - 06:54 PM
Thread Name: PBS - Ken Burns Country Music
Subject: RE: PBS - Ken Burns Country Music
As "folkies," politicized accordingly, of course many of you don't like Hank Jr.

You see the worlds of "Good Country" and "Bad Country," divided mainly along the lines of political signifiers. As a recent piece discusses , people indicate through taste (the old Bourdieu "Distinction" thing, Hebdige's "Subcultures" thing) their affiliations, identity, etc. On average, Democrats prefer Starbucks and Republicans prefer Dunkin Donuts.

With Country, I've notice that some folkie-types with self-awareness negotiate this by saying that Country was good before a certain time, then spoilt by people. They can equate the "real" Country with the "original" Country, by which they mean an "earlier" Country. Typical Folk move of valorizing older things, devaluing newer.

As for contemporaneous "Good Country" and "Bad Country," where the timeline thing doesn't work: Some will treat Country in general as the Bad thing. (See, Folk... whatever that is? however it's different from Country?... is the Good.) But they reserve "Bluegrass" (a rose by another name) as Good, along with some valiant champions, in the minority, in the Country world who look like they are fighting against the Badness of Country from within. The rural quality of Bluegrass is at home in the Blue states, where it is quaint and simple and cute and authentic and nice. The rural quality of Country, from Red states, is interpreted as backwards, uneducated, scary, mean, etc.

The rural quality (the "country") is interpreted differently based on some mapping of political parties. What do you call a White American with conservative beliefs? A "Trumptard," etc. What do you call some dude in a village in India who believes in caste, supports patriarchy, is superstitiously religious? An "indigenous village elder." Aw! This is a lot of BS with respect to Country, though it's a framework of value that "outsiders" apply. The more people understand that African/American music is a foundation (not an "influence") of Country, I think, the more the partisan divide will break. When I say "people," I mean people who are not Country artists, because Country artists for the most part already know their music is Blues. Lil Nas X did a great job with his record-breaking #1 song.

Hank Jr is very important to any non-partisan history of Country. The people involved in Country music for the last 50 years equally recognize Hank (Sr.) and Bocephus (HW Jr) as deep bases of their genre.

"I ain't gonna call Hank Williams Jr. 'Junior' any more" ~ David Allan Coe, 1976