April 19, 2006



Some country singers name politicians by name and pick up ideological baggage by its academic handle. Most, though, choose to tease out the political in everyday life, unpacking mundane acts, many of them compulsory, be it going to work or opening your eyes. This topicality is an implicit imperative of country. If you threw a dart at the country charts today—or if you had done it in 1976—you’d hit a song that reaches social facts through stories told in clear, literal language. Jamey Johnson's tearjerker "The Dollar" describes a father who works too hard, and the child who offers him “some pennies saved up from the tooth fairy” so he won’t have to; the narrator of Kenny Rogers’ new song “Someone Is Me” notices “cigarette butts lyin’ in the sides of the street” and a “swastika sprayed from an aerosol can” and ventures that “somebody should do somethin' about it—maybe that someone is me”; and Jamie O’Neal’s 2005 hit “Somebody's Hero” is a paean to a stay-at-home mom caring for a young daughter who grows up—in a typical two-generations-in-one-song move (see also "Wide Open Spaces")—to care for that same mom, now in a different home: “The envy of the nursing home, she drops by every afternoon, feeds her mama with a spoon.” Everyday problems get more airtime in country than in any other genre, especially if you consider drinking an everyday problem.

This would be a killer Indigo Girls record.

Posted by Sasha at April 19, 2006 09:05 AM | TrackBack