I remember as a kid, looking forward to the CMA’s every year. I guess before the days of internet, it was the only time you got to see your favorite country artists other than in a magazine. I was amazed and enamored year after year.
Today? Today an awards show makes me hold my breath. Will it be good? Will I be upset?Are they going to shine a good light on the industry?
Granted a big part of that is being as close to the industry as I am today. But a bigger part is the fact that in my heart I am still a big fan, and I just want to see the industry flourish… not fail.
Last night’s CMAs…
On a whole, I truly enjoyed it. It had its moments where I walked out of the room on a performance that just didn’t answer me. I (not literally) threw things at the TV when I disagreed with a winner. But seriously, in general, I enjoyed it and it showed me glimmers of the great music and the class of award shows of old. (In my opinion, it was one of the better awards shows in the last few years!)
But. Tonight, it really made me sit back and look at the landscape of country music today. One of the things I love about country music is how broad and open it is. One of the things I hate is how hard people push the invisible lines of the genre within that. If country is so open, why do we turn our noses up at people who explore the boundaries of the genre? But in the same breath, why can’t people keep at least a toe in the water of traditional country as they push those boundaries? (And I don’t mean, “Oh let me mention a pickup truck and a back road and that makes it country.”)
Can we ever really find that happy medium and stay there?
Not without getting stagnate.
As much as I shake my fist at artists pushing the envelope (or flat out not playing country, in my opinion), I also have to recognize that they are testing the waters and helping the landscape change with the times… and maybe they’re going to find people pushing back! Or maybe they’re going to draw new fans into the fold who will finally give our more classic country artists a chance for the very first time. Time will tell. This phenomenon has happened in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.
Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little.
Right now, I hear more and more songs with substance that makes my country music loving heart happy, but I also hear more and more songs with little substance and too much distorted electric guitar set on 10. (I love me a great rock song, just not on a country station.) But, you know what? I’m willing to let those rock songs go in hopes that those rockers truly do respect that classics as they claim to respect. And maybe, just maybe, the heart of country will continue to beat just as strong.