The old joke used to be the guy saying he only liked two types of music, Country and Western. Now “Western” has been replaced by “Rock”
If you are in your 40s and can’t relate to Alternative or Pop music there is a very good chance you have gravitated towards Country music. The hits played on country borrow liberally from pop production and have similar beats but lyrically the themes are less oblique and layer on a huge amount of nostalgia. Ask Blake Shelton or Miranda Lambert about their influences and they won’t say, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Reba McEntire or The Dixie Chicks but they will give you Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi or Beyonce. It’s not too surprising that the formula of late 20th Century themes mixed with 21st century production has become so popular. So popular that when you mashup songs, it’s tough to distinguish one from the other.
It is all cyclical however, as it was nearly 50 years ago when rock and roll artists looked to the country artists of their day to help update their sound. It’s all documented in an exhibit at The Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville entitled Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City. It began when Bob Dylan came to Nashville in 1966 to record Blonde on Blonde. Working with session musicians known as The Nashville Cats, Dylan went on to record two more albums in Nashville. Dylan s embrace of the city inspired Neil Young, Joan Baez, and Leonard Cohen to follow him.
If you can’t make it to Nashville, I recommend giving the companion album a listen. It’s truly inspired and will give you insights into both country and rock music.