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!