Having listened to country music on and (mostly) off since Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” four decades ago, I checked in on Billboard’s Top 30 Country chart to see if anything was new.
A possible advantage about not knowing much about what I’m talking about when it comes to music is a certain knack for seeing the forest through the trees.
From that 30,000-foot perspective, the answer to what’s new in country turned out to be (as with most genres of popular music in the last couple of decades): not much.
Indeed, what seems odd for an old fogey like me is how much a country radio station these days sounds like a mainstream FM rock station in the 1970s. ...When we lived in Chicago, my wife used to take guitar classes from the alternative country singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks, who would fulminate amusingly to his students at the Old Town School of Folk Music about the indignities he’d had to put up with as a songwriter in Nashville. As Fulks phrased it in a song about Nashville with a title that’s NSFW:
Hey, this ain’t country-western! It’s just soft-rock feminist crap!