A Little Bit Country…


Dan Scotto

Dan Scotto lives and works in New Jersey. He has a master's degree in history, with a focus on the history of disease and the history of technology.

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124 Responses

  1. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    This guy nails modern country music:


    The best statement about country music I ever heard was made by shock jock Steve Dahl here in Chicago. He was ranting about white people and the blues, saying they can’t authentically sing the blues, but that’s why there’s country.

    The last thing I want to hear musically is a bunch of millionaires whining about how crappy there life is, and how put upon they are. The first thing they do after getting a little success is get their asses out of whatever rural hellhole that birthed them.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      Thought the youtube link was going to be this one


      • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

        Shoot, how do you do that? BTW, I’ve seen that, and it’s spot on, as well.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          As far as I can tell, youtube links will become embedded videos if there’s no text after the link URL (and if they’re not set up as hyperlinks i.e. a href and all that)Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Thanks for throwing the link in, Slade. That guy’s amazing.Report

    • Avatar Les Cargill says:

      White people can play and sing hell out of the blues. Bob Wills and Jimmie Rodgers both played the blues. They’re nominally lumped in with country and western.

      Country music is like baseball – I grew up watching “Hee Haw”, and went on to be a practitioner in my early ’20s. It either appeals to you or it doesn’t.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        A couple iterations of it ago, I used the featured music video spot on the sidebar* to introduce anyone who hadn’t already become aware of them to a sexy, smouldering blues piece by Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, “Your Heart is as Black as Night.” It was originally written and performed by another artist, Melody Gardot, and it’s also superb though the Bonamossa/Hart cover has become my current favorite song.

        A generation ago, there was an efflorescence of white musicians, particularly guitarists, from the UK who had collectively fallen in love with American blues music and made massive names for themselves. You may recall guys like Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jimmy Page, and Keith Richards, among many others. Ain’t no one gonna tell me those guys didn’t play the blues at a world-class level.

        * Does anyone pay attention to this other than me? If no one uses it, there are other things we can do with that real estate.Report

        • Avatar rtodkelly says:

          Way way back in the early days of MD, I remember having a conversation (maybe I even did a guest post?) about the rise over the past decade of new retro artists that are so good at what they do that when I first hear them, I am sure I remember having heard them years before. They just sound like they recorded the song in the 60s or 70s. Melody Gargot (and Your Heart Is Black As Nigh)t fall into that category for me.Report

  2. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    When I was in Navy boot our company commander liked to line us up and have us listen to Lee Greenwood sing “God Bless the USA.” The dude would stand there and get all misty eyed and I guess he was expecting us to feel the same. Frankly, I thought it was just a bit over the top but I couldn’t roll my eyes for fear of extra push-ups.

    Yeah, you’ve nailed the political aesthetic there.Report

  3. Avatar notme says:

    So Trump seems to reflect sentiment in some popular American music? And yet we keep being told that Trump came out of nowhere.Report

    • Avatar Mo says:

      If a US president came out reflecting the hip hop view of the world, we’d similarly think they came out of nowhere. Trump comes closest, he manages the more modern material excesses of hip hop well, but falls well short on political hip hop.Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Good post. And Bo Burnham’s observations (in Slade’s link above) I think apply perfectly to Trump – he’s pandering stadium country music.

    There’s also another dimension of Law & Order that’s not really the pro-forma Law and Order, but it is about Justice. It’s how you can square the circle between celebrating bootleggers in the hills and condemning the dude that will knife you for the couple of dozen dollars in your pocket.

    (and that’s putting aside the frequent tales of domestic abuse ()not just man on woman(), and *really* putting aside treating bootleggers in the hills differently than drug dealers in the cities, which has Unfortunate Implications)Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      Here is the problem with saying that they care about Justice. They really don’t in my mind. Or they have a narrow and greedy version.

      The implication in Dan’s post is that the left does not care about justice and I find that offensive.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Now while it’s obvious that I don’t agree with their axioms, I find it offensive that they don’t agree with mine.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          I never get quite get the SSC thing on outgroups. Am I suddenly supposed to agree with reactionaries and defend their folk ways?

          It seems like in SSC world liberals are supposed to apologize for being liberal. I disagree with that.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            “Am I suddenly supposed to agree with reactionaries and defend their folk ways?”

            You’re supposed to recognize the difference between a philosophical disagreement and a Two Minutes Hate.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          Jaybird’s post has combined with the half-remember snatches of country songs flitting through my head after reading Dan’s post and now I’m imagining it as the lyric to an alternate-universe country song.

          “Now while it’s obvious that I don’t agree with their axioms, I find it offensive that they don’t agree with mine / We’ll go round ‘n round on Twitter, me drinkin’ beer an’ them sippin’ wine / Minds never to meet, ’til NP-complete, an’ that’ll never come ’round / in closed space-tiiiiiime…”Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Then Mama gets hit by a truck…Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Or a train. After getting outa prison.

              Well, I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
              And I went to pick her up in the rain
              But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
              She got runned over by a damned old train

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              (fast guitar noodling, I’m thinking something like Commander Cody’s Hot Rod Lincoln here)
              “So one hot morning in old At-lanta / big ‘ol truck doin’ ninety-five / brakes locked up at a fork in the road / time to choose, who lives ‘n who dies”
              (guitar riff)
              “One side kids all ridin’ their bikes / happy laughs from the little tykes / other side, my old dear Ma / I realized then, there ain’t no God”

      • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

        I believe the word you’re looking for is vigilante.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Saul Degraw:
        Here is the problem with saying that they care about Justice. They really don’t in my mind. Or they have a narrow and greedy version.

        Who is ‘they’, specifically? Country music fans? Country music artists? Southerners?

        (one of the other things to consider in how MAGA is partly a skeuomorph of mid-20th century exurban artistic expression is that there was once a distinction between ‘country’ and ‘western’)

        The implication in Dan’s post is that the left does not care about justice and I find that offensive.

        well, if you want to believe that, I can’t help you.

        (eta – heck, if you want to believe that both ‘classical’ and modern country *only* exists on the right-left spectrum – and at that, only on the right part of it – then I *really* can’t help you)Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @saul-degraw — What they call “justice” is as much about honor culture, which ties into the “hit them back ten times as hard” thing.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I agree with what you are saying but am not sure if there is anything new here. Everything you have written on the South and country music seems like a long known truth. I also think they are very wrong.

    I don’t like the South very much. When I was 15 going on 16, my parents sent me to Spain for the summer. The program was run by an Episcopalian school out of Texas and a lot of the kids were from South Carolina for some reason. I generally like the kids from the North and the West more. We were all from well to do families but the kids from the North and West seemed more down to earth. We went to public school.

    The Southern kids went to private school and were wild. Yet they were largely very conservative at the same time. I found this odd even back then.

    My opinions on the South have not changed that much. I don’t disagree with your analysis of country music but I just find the politics and culture of country music to be wrong and filled with Southern chauvinism.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      I don’t like the South very much… I just find the politics and culture of country music to be wrong and filled with Southern chauvinism.

      I’ve long been convinced that notme is not a sentient human being, but an algorithm constructed to say the most ridiculous partisan thing possible in any given conversation. I’m starting to suspect the same thing about you.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      Yeah, Saul, I’m sure that these particular private school kids you met once told you everything you needed to know about the South. Well that and maybe My Cousin Vinny, with a dash of Deliverance thrown in? Are there influences I’m leaving out?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        What I said was a bit harsh and there are plenty of liberals in the South. Asheville was a charming town.

        But there is a large strain of South Uber Allies and our ways should rule above all. Notice how many Republican politicians feel free to say urban (read: black) culture is what is keeping blacks behind but none dare blame rural poverty on the ways of white residents.

        The South seems to think that their way of life should continue forever and above the rest of the nation and to this I say no.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Cavaliers? or Scotch Irish?
          You’re talking about two fucking different cultures, and lumping them into one big ‘un.
          It makes you look awful ignorant.

          To be fair to the Republican politicians, Obama also said that urban culture is what is keeping blacks behind (See field negro, he’s always good for quoting what Obama’s talking about to black folks).Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          Notice how many Republican politicians feel free to say urban (read: black) culture is what is keeping blacks behind but none dare blame rural poverty on the ways of white residents.

          Arguably, the reverse of this applies to the Democrats. That the rural jobs are never coming back, so the answer is for the folks there to pack up, move out, get educated, etc. But inner city problems, particularly in the Rust Belt, are all due to outside influences, not the people who live there today.

          And me, feeling malicious today, say to both sides that it’s obvious the suburbs have had the right answer for 50 years, and there’s what they should be trying for :^)Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            “And me, feeling malicious today, say to both sides that it’s obvious the suburbs have had the right answer for 50 years, and there’s what they should be trying for.”

            100% agree with this. The urban folks point the fingers at the rural folks and meanwhile the suburbs are quietly getting things done.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              What is transforming the basic Republican and Democratic political coalitions that have existed since circa 1970 is that the suburbs aren’t hacking it anymore.

              They’re bifurcating into super wealthy enclaves a la Hoboken, or are becoming no different (and in some cases worst than) what used to be called ‘inner cities’ a la Ferguson.

              The new ‘suburbs’ that had the middle ground from the 60s to the 90s are now being built way out there, with transit times that are increasingly onerous and one oil price spike away from being unaffordable.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


                I live in a community that would have been called the ‘exurbs’ 10 years ago. Now the gaps are filling in. It really varies neighborhood to neighborhood though as far as wealth.Report

              • one oil price spike away from being unaffordable.

                And greater acceptance of telecommuting away from that not being an issue for lots of people.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                and a class divide between those who are in occupations that can do that and those who can’t which furthers the political divide.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                How much telecommuting is really acceptable?

                Even in tech, there seems to be a strong split between companies that allow telecommuting and those that don’t and as Kolohe said, a lot of people don’t have jobs where telecommuting is possible and this includes lower to mid level admin who might live in Solano or Sonoma but need to commute to SF or further.Report

              • A lot more than is done now. And even more in the future as improved bandwidth and technology make it easier to feel like you’re working in a group without physical proximity.

                How much of what you do actually requires you to be in the office?Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                The office has the heavy duty scanner and printer which is still necessary in law especially because a lot of courts don’t do e-filing yet. San Francisco is very good with e-filing, not so much other counties in California.

                I am pretty good at working from home but there is something nice about having somewhere else to go. I like the work/home divide. Just like I did all my studying in the law school library. Home was my space.Report

              • Avatar Mo says:

                There is definitely a fiber ceiling with telecommuters. And my experience is that when cuts are coming, the person you can see comes out ahead.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                I don’t know if I would quite call Hoboken a suburb but it has absolutely gentrified as people have been priced out of NYC. Hoboken was always considered a city though along with Newark and Jersey City, Hoboken used to be very rough.

                When I think of suburbs, I tend to divide between rings. You have inner-ring suburbs like the North Shore of Long Island and Westchester which tend to swing blue and then the further out, the more conservative it seems to get, both socially and economically.

                I wonder how this changes between regions. The whole Bay Area is very blue until you get to around Solano county but even then it is blue. IIRC there are only a handful of towns in the Bay Area where Republicans achieve a plurality and those are Danville, Black Hawk, Atherton, Bellevue and maybe Novato.

                But debating what is and is not a city in the US is hard. IIRC last year there were a bunch of articles showing how many (maybe most) American cities are a collection of suburbs (single-family homes on detached lots frequently) under one government except a handful of older cities in the Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                SCRANTON is an exurb.Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog says:

              Unfortunately, the suburbs are financially unsustainable – they only “get things done” on other folks’ dime.

              At least where I live, the property tax revenue from the denser urban areas are what subsidizes the suburbs’ public infrastructure – without tax revenue from the centre of town, the suburbs wouldn’t have things like paved roads, running water, or sewers.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Having the right answer in the past isn’t going to save Miami.
            Nor New Orleans.
            Nor the suburbs.Report

          • Is that really hypocrisy? No one is saying that the jobs going away is the fault of the people who used to do them. The world changes, and there’s no holding it back. While I have some sympathy for people who suffer from that, I don’t see that pretending it’s going to change back is in any way productive.

            As I’ve said before, get an education that gives you a shot at a good job and then go wherever that takes you is the deal my kids got, and it never occurred to them (or me) to call it unfair. Not to mention my brother, who lives in a place that often makes the new for its problems, but that’s where he got the opportunity to make full professor. That’s different, of course. For some reason.Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko says:

          Look, it’s not like you’re the only Northern Liberal to act like the South is synonymous with everything about American culture and politics that you don’t like, but it ain’t so and it never has been. We’ve absolutely got our problems, but North = Liberal and tolerant, South = Racist and backward and Conservative is a dumb reductive way to look at the world.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      You can’t paint the south without painting black and white. How many black southerners you met? How many folks from ScotchIrish territory, not the deep South?

      I don’t think you ever heard nothing from those South Carolinians about what’s the best dirt for cookin’ — and that’s part of their culture down there.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      “…but the kids from the North and West seemed more down to earth.”

      Says the guy that posts about how he doesn’t understand mainstream movies, bemoans why more people don’t listen to classical music and every Christmas suggests they buy $200 shirts. Yep, salt of the earth that Saul is.Report

    • “Tell about the South,” said Shreve McCannon. “What do they do there? How do they live there? Why do they?…Tell me one more thing. Why do you hate the South?”

      “Because it sucks” Quentin said, quickly, at once, immediately; “it sucks” he said. “It sucks” he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark: “It sucks! It sucks! It sucks!”Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      Everything you have written on the South and country music seems like a long known truth.

      But country music is popular all over the country, its the most popular musical genre for touring shows in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        There is a lot of country music that I find rather charming. Mainly older stuff like Loving You is Happy State of Mind by Bill Anderson, or Poor Folks by Bill Anderson, Hey Good Lookin by Hank Williams, The Carter Family. Mama Tried by Merle Haggard is a great song.

        But the Stadium Country stuff grates on me really badly.

        I concede your point that it does well in place like Ohio, PA, and Wisconsin but it is also not uncommon to see Confederate Flags flying in the rural sections of those states even though they were Union. From what I hear, you can see the Confederate Flag is rural sections of Canada at times. But I’ve long had a theory that the Confederate Flag has become an Epartier Le Bourgeois among white, rural, right-wingers.Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw says:

          I’m not particularly a fan of country music, maybe Johnny Cash and Gillian Welch, but I think the piece shouldn’t be particularized to the South. I’m a bigger fan of traditional blues music, which also have a focus on the importance of work, and stories of crime and punishment. But not very many people listen to the blues anymore.Report

      • Avatar notme says:

        We got both kinds of music here, Country and Western.Report

    • Avatar Les Cargill says:

      Country music is deeply artificial. That’s what makes it charming. And out of that artifice comes some genuinely moving stuff. Not all that time. It’s like, you know, all art.

      WSM stands for “We Shield Millions”, the motto of the insurance company that started The Grand Ole Opry. Colin Wescott’s book on Hank Williams is a good read. I’d at least recommend “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”. It assembles all these tropes from that book. from Johnny Cash’s book, from Brian Wilson’s book, presumably from Glen Campbell’s book…

      As to the Southern kids, I recommend James McMurtry’s “Lobo Town”. Fairly brutal song. The world is hard on wild kids these days.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


    While I appreciate the thoroughness of this piece, I don’t know if I exactly agree with your conclusions.

    “Modern country music did not anticipate Trump, per se, and doesn’t fully map onto his campaign, but the politics underlying many of those songs showed up very explicitly in his campaign.”

    What I would suggest is that popular country music (ie the stuff they play on the radio) is rarely political. It’s a commentary on small-town life and an idealistic comparison between rural and urban America. If it could be considered political at all, I would call it populist. Populism and an affection for the little man also exists in rock. Springsteen, Mellencamp and Billy Joel all accessed those ideals regularly. But that was in the Rust Belt, and Indiana and New Jersey. So maybe we could further refine our definition of pop country politics and call it folk populism which would explain the Southern/Heartland connection.

    So we have folk populist music which is popular with people in the same areas where Trump did really well. Did he access some of those feelings? Sure. But obviously it’s not a one-for-one because we can find lots of examples of contradictions too. Willie loves weed. Farmers mostly like immigration. It gets complicated.

    I wrote more on this topic way back in 2013.Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Another thing I have noticed and mentioned before is that a lot of people have out dated versions of NYC in their heads. They still think of the 1970s NYC as being real.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      It was amusing to see the reactions we got when we moved from suburban Orange County to downtown LA.
      “You don’t have a yard??” “You are getting rid of your car??” “Aren’t you afraid?”

      Yeah, they imagine we are living in Scorsese New York circa 1975, with Snake Plisskin.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Having spent a fair amount of time in DTLA myself, I would have given you reactions of fear, too, although different ones.
        “Holy shit, how on God’s green earth will you afford the rent?” “Won’t the traffic be effing loud? Like, all the time?” “What are you going to do for a car, garage it out in the warehouse district?”Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          It’s funny how one adapts to the city environment, from a quiet culture de sac.
          The street noise is just that white noise in the background. And not having a car drops the effective rent appreciably.

          The biggest change is living in close proximity to people; wherever you go you are surrounded by people, living your life in the public view.
          There isn’t that alone time in the car, instead there is that invisible personal space that surrounds us on the subway, the bus or elevator.Report

          • Avatar dragonfrog says:

            Our first apartment was down the block from a firehall. My mom in law came to visit after we’d lived there for six months or so, and remarked on how many sirens she was hearing. We had to think for a minute before concluding that yes, there were sirens weren’t there.Report

    • Avatar Brent F says:

      I remember explaining to you that the Toronto of the 1960s you knew from fiction radically transformed into something much different a couple decades later. I’ve had similar conversations about how people’s impressions of Alberta are 20-30 years out of date.

      People’s impressions of places they have no first hand familarity with are usually dated. The same probably applies to many places you only know by reputation.Report

  8. Avatar j r says:

    They’ve never drove through Indiana,
    Met the men who plowed that earth,
    Planted that seed, busted his ass for you and me,

    I’ve met a few of those guys. And many of them are the men and women that many country music fans, at least the ones who luxuriate in this particular ethos, want to deport and build a wall to keep out.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      Heh, ain’t that the truth.

      Part of why “Country Culture” evokes such emotional resonance, is because their vision of it is receding in the rear view mirror.

      Who plants those seeds? Who butchers the hogs? Who fixes the tractors, ropes the horses, processes the grain, does all the hard dirty work that country singers fantasize about?
      Increasingly, it’s Hispanic immigrants.

      But even more telling- the country myth was always a myth. Because it never represented more than a part of the people who lived there.

      The salt of the earth, common sense country people with dark skin were always conspicuously missing from the picture.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Country music has always been equally black music. The first performer at the Grand Ole Opry was black (DeFord Bailey). The first million-selling country record was by Charlie Pride, and who can forget Ray Charles? Now there’s Darius Rucker, Percy Jenkins, Milton Palton, Mickey Guyton, and many others.

        Interestingly, the cowboy thing was in large part imported to Texas from Nigeria, Niger, and Gambia, and ranchers sought out the slaves from the African herding cultures who knew how to drive large herds of cattle over long distances from either horses or camels. Europeans didn’t do that, but many Africans did, and still do. They taught the white ranchers how to do it.

        And it goes both ways. There are now parts of Africa where by people’s songs, culture, and dress you couldn’t tell they weren’t from Tennessee or Texas.Report

  9. Avatar Joe Sal says:

    Living it in color, Hank Jr. “A Country Boy Can Survive” was pretty much the rural anthem. I would say there is an alternate frame work for: “his protagonist fantasizes about avenging his friend,” in that what Hank is saying was deal with the strong man by opposition, and in his case it is a 45 that does the opposing.

    It is important to note that “Country Boy Can Survive” was in ’81, and the “If the South Woulda Won” was in ’88. At the time city violence was being splashed on the big screens in the Death Wish 1-4 and the Dirty Harry movies depicting rampant violence. It appeared America abandoned much of it’s inner cities and cocaine and heroine gained momentum. It was a constant drum in the news. A lot of people don’t see that history that was spritzed over by modern renewal.

    The other problem with framing country music as all ‘law and orderish’ is the song “Copperhead Road” which depicts moonshine running as heritage, then bumping up against the law for growing seeds of Colombia and Mexico.

    J.P. Richardson singing “White Lightning” in ’59, ‘nough said.

    As far as country music getting political, Aaron Lewis did a quasi repackage of “Country Boy” in 2011.

    A lot of these songs are talking how the big lights of the city aren’t what they appear to be and there is a return to the country, The LACS unpack this in their “Country Road”. They mention Georgia, but it could be nearly any state that isn’t a complete population center.

    Anyway this yammering over ‘Rural America’ is some funny statistical gymnastics, as the quantum of rural america makes up less than 20% of the population. Which shows there is a glossing over of…….80% of the population that isn’t rural.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Anyway this yammering over ‘Rural America’ is some funny statistical gymnastics, as the quantum of rural america makes up less than 20% of the population. Which shows there is a glossing over of…….80% of the population that isn’t rural.

      That suggests to me that a large number of suburban people culturally identify with the pseudo-Kincadian vision of an idealized America portrayed in country music: the soccer mom with the country station on the preset of her minivan. Which, now that I think about it, describes one of my colleagues exactly. She actually lives in a true suburb of Los Angeles, where I live in one of L.A.’s exurbs. I’ll note for the record that she’s a Democrat, and as horrified at the Trump Presidency as I am. Although this is a single data point, it demonstrates that identification with the themes and sounds of this genre of music does not necessarily result in conservative political behavior or attitudes.

      But it does suggest that my colleague has some degree of cultural affinity for what (particularly modern) country music describes. If those are the values of simple justice, the comforts of a stable home, hard work, patriotism, and the love of a good spouse, that’s not so hard to understand, is it?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Which genres have the longest-lived artists?

        Pop strikes me as exceptionally disposable. It’s rare when a pop artist from 10 years ago is still popular today, practically unicornish for someone from 20 years ago does so, and unheard of for a pop star 30 years ago to be putting out a new album.

        Rock? This kinda happens. Whitesnake is still putting out stuff, for example. I’m not sure how well it does, but it happens.

        Rap? There are a couple… Too $hort, De La Soul… Um… it’s mostly producers who are still around, not the artists.

        Country? Dolly Parton is the first to come to mind. George Strait another, there are probably a handful of artists I’d be able to name if I were familiar with the genre.

        Of all those, it seems to me that Country has the most artists that you could have spent the last 30 years with. Could share with your baby, with your tween, with your grown child, listen to as you hold your new grandbaby.

        Who am I not thinking of?Report

        • Avatar aaron david says:

          Punk. Green Day has been putting stuff out for 25+ years (unfortunately) But also Social D, Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, etc.

          But if you look into many of the smaller genre’s such as reggae or rockabilly, you will find artists who have been pumping stuff out for decades.Report

        • Jazz? Some of those guys tour into their 70s.Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw says:

          May I recommend “Lullaby Versions of Joy Division?”Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          I’m still listening to U2 and Fleetwood Mac and Michael Jackson and Boston as the 2020’s loom and yes I feel old at the silver anniversary of The Joshua Tree but there it is. I conclude that the vast bulks of artists in all genres don’t ever make much of a splash or last all that long; in pretty much any genre there are a handful of artists who make it big and endure. I don’t think country is any different.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I’m not really talking about Really Awesome Albums That Hold Up.

            I’m talking about putting out new stuff. Dolly Parton put out a 43rd(!) album last year (it went to #1). George Strait put out one in 2015 (his 28th(!)) and that one hit #1 as well.Report

            • Avatar PD Shaw says:

              Some of that just goes to country music being the most economically successful genre, perhaps because being more traditional means of making money from music (radio, concerts, CD sales) have remained stronger with a more traditional audience.

              Remember when Bon Jovi beat out David Bowie a few years ago for number one release?Report

            • Avatar Jesse says:

              Now, the question is, did those albums hit #1 because they were incredibly popular or did these albums sell the same amount that previous albums did fifteen years ago to the same core fanbase, but with the death of album sales, that’s enough to hit #1 now?Report

        • Avatar El Muneco says:

          I think that 30 year rock/pop veterans on the nostalgia circuit are an order of magnitude more common than that. I drive by a tribal casino that’s a huge booker of these guys. Air Supply is still touring. So is Foreigner. And Rick Springfield. It sems that only death can stop any act that got play from Casey Kasem from an endless supply of tiny paychecks playing to people whose musical tastes never really left that era either.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            See, this is how rare what I’m talking about is. People keep assuming that I must be talking about artists who haven’t died yet.

            I’m talking about the ones who are still putting out new albums.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              Not really. All the good old pop stars keep on putting out albums (even if Tori Amos’ really, really suck).

              You just don’t hear about them.

              Now, a friend of mine who can’t be bothered to keep the same name for more than five minutes… well, he’s had a twenty year musical career, and keeps on coming up with new bands, or other new places to write.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                Make a note of the date and time, everyone – I’m right with Kim on this one.
                Just of the three acts I mentioned, they all had new original work until the end of last decade, one has two in the last three years, and one is currently touring to support a record.
                We aren’t the target audience, but to that audience, these guys are in no way museum pieces.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But that audience couldn’t get their albums into the top ten.

                The country audience *COULD*.Report

          • Avatar InMD says:

            I’m not as connected since my switch to satellite radio but for years it seemed like REO Speedwagon played every moderately sized all ages event in the Mid-Atlantic.Report

        • Avatar Autolukos says:

          One of the fascinating things about going to Vegas for the first time was learning where all the old pop stars go.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            There were a lot of us who just didn’t have $12 to give to ticketmaster in 1994.

            But we sure as hell have $200 now, plus hotel and airfare.

            I LOVE YOU KEITH SWEAT!Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          Eh. This really only applies to people who like country.

          My parents listened to the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Dead, Paul Simon (and Simon and Garfunkel), Jazz, and Classical when I was growing up. I am pretty sure you can find plenty of people with boomer parents who remember listening to 1960s rock and soul when they were kids.

          When I saw New Order a few years ago, the crowd ranged from people in their 50s making out like they were in college again to 18 year olds with their first tattoos. New Order is playing the Greek Theatre at the end of April. Belle and Sebastian, the Magnetic Fields, Sleater-Kinney, Superchunk, Yo La Tengo have all been around since the 1980s or 90s. You can see wide age ranges at their shows.

          Radiohead has been around since the 1990s. Pearl Jam still tours. Wilco has been around for decades.

          Plenty of Gen Xers like putting their kids in Ramones and Blondie t-shirts.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Back ’76 or ’77 maybe, i was a Simon & Garfunkel/ John Denver fan, then this friend of mine in high school who went to underground Hollywood clubs gave me a listen to a bootleg 45 of some weird band playing a song called “Beat On The Brat (With A Baseball Bat)” and it was the most mind blowing wonderful thing I had ever heard, and I spent the next few years hanging out at those clubs*.

            Last July when we moved I found my old Ramones and Blondie 8 tracks and tossed them.

            If you had told me in 1976 that 40 years later kids would be wearing Ramones tee shirts, well…

            *and I wore an onion on my belt, which was the fashion at the time.Report

            • Avatar El Muneco says:

              If you had told me in 1976 that 40 years later kids would be wearing Ramones tee shirts

              Funny that – the other day I saw a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac…Report

        • Avatar Jesse says:

          I think a lot of it depends on your definition of “long lived.” Because the truth is, somebody like Alabama or Dolly Parton or even Alan Jackson rarely gets airplay on country radio, but they still get shoutouts in newer country stars songs and might show up to duet with them at the CMA’s or something.

          OTOH, older rock, R&B, metal, and even punk groups still tour quite successfully, they put out albums that at least make their money back, but it’s just that they simply don’t have a place to get props anywhere. Stations like BET are focused on the New and the now and there’s not really a rock TV station, like there is for both rap and country. I mean, if he hadn’t died, would David Bowie putting out a great album made any kind of traction at all?

          But, on the pop end, a NKOTB/Backstreet Boys reunion tour sold while wherever it went and seemingly half the women on my FB page between the ages of 25 and 45 got all dolled up to go to them. Britney Spears is making millions to Vegas. Etcetera.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I guess my only definition of “Long Lived” is “put out albums with new material and those albums get props from both the critics and from the audience”.

            It’s not just “still capable of packing an auditorium in Vegas six nights out of seven for two months” (as impressive as that is!).Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          As part of a similar debate, I’ve been paying attention to what music is getting played at the grocery and fast food joints when I’m there. The rotations are heavy on the 70s, with occasional selective dips into the 80s (power ballads) and the late 60s (Beatles but not Stones). Most of it falls into the category I label “sing along pop”. I am surprised by the number of teenaged girls I see/hear singing or humming along softly.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Sing along Pop was pure 60’s. That’s Cat Stevens and other ridiculously simple stuff.

            You probably mean “the chorus is memorable” stuff, which is great — but there’s only a few songs that I can pull out of my head that are honestly all that difficult to sing (granted, i watch anime a lot, so, when Maya makes songs for her chords, well, they’re good songs).Report

            • Cat Stevens’ period of greatest success was of course the early 70s, Tea for the Tillerman through Buddha and the Chocolate Box. His songs aren’t just singable, they’re easy to write new lyrics for:

              If I go wrong between the ears
              Slip my trolley, strip my gears
              If I go wrong between the ears
              I won’t make sense no more

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            I see that at the rec center at the school too.
            More 80’s than 70’s there though.

            What you’re referring to is Muzak.
            They’ve always had several channels, and some of them are pretty cool.

            I played this for the President of Alpha Kappa Alpha a couple of semesters ago, and he liked it a lot. Sounds pretty modern to my ears.Report

        • Palestrina died in 1594, and they’re still putting out new albums of his stuff.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          I remember an odd stretch in the mid-1980’s, after new wave and punk kind of burned out, when a bunch of dinosaurs made it back onto the pop charts. Genesis, CCR, The Who, Jefferson Starship, Cream, The Eagles, David Bowie – the bands, some members, or successor bands all had a strong showing. That’s the last time that I know of that we’ve seen a resurgence of a past era’s artists.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            And this is why folks don’t want to keep their names for more than five minutes, if they’re any good at all.

            When you’re on top, ain’t nobody can tell you that you suck, and how are you going to do anything better if that’s the case?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Part of the eternal problem is that many of the artists I immediately thought of were dead.

            I suppose that that was something that Rap had more in common with Country than with Rock. Artists who got shot by someone who weren’t themselves.Report

  10. Avatar InMD says:

    I think @joe-sal is on target in his last paragraph. You aren’t going to hear the music discussed in this piece at trendy upscale bars (except maybe ironically) but it’s plenty popular in places where commuting into a large or medium sized city is normal. The appeal isn’t geographic (or even necessarily genre specific) so much as cultural, as noted above by @mike-dwyer. Historical context is also important.

    Bernhard Goetz would probably agree with a lot of the sentiments in the law and order section despite not being from a rural background in the sense most people would envision.Report

  11. Avatar Kim says:

    The people who like country music wouldn’t like to hear about what goes on in the country.
    Especially if they live there.Report