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By J.C. High Eagle June 17 2016

That's what an A&R person told me on my cell phone while travelling to a studio recording session in Nashville. He said pure country music doesn't make a buck and won't sell. It all borders on what you mean and define as 'country' music. But before I go any further, and for the sake of being accused of being too narrrowed in my taste of music, I want to say up front that music to me is a way of life!

Before anyone gets bent out of shape and down on me, let me quickly say right up front: I enjoy ALL the genres of music and the artists that perform them. I have nothing against the current trends in music, nor am I out to offend anyone. I just think there is a place also for pure country music without the rock mixture and influences. If that's the direction things are headed, great and that's fine. Change is wonderful, but PLEASE DON'T CALL IT COUNTRY MUSIC! And please don't think real country music is dead . . . IT'S NOT! It's probably more popular internationally than it is here in the U.S. today.

So it's no secret that i LOVE my country music, BUT i grew up on this stuff since my Mom was a big fan, and to me real country is when we talk about people like, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Lyn Anderson, Johnny Cash, The Highway Men, Hank Williams.. Ya know those kinda people. All I see on TV now are dudes with slick moders haircuts, and very young singer songwriter chicks and the music I hear has absolutely nothing to do with country, or bluegrass or nothing like that.

I mean rock is there, but rock is not country for god sake, it's pop rock... and everything else I see and hear so far has been pop or pop rock as well. My point is I think it's a shame not to honor such an amazing genre more when it comes our country music heritage, cuz there is so much great country out there still . . .and not get contaminated by the attitudes and actions of a few people only interested in 'selling', and not entertaining.

There are a lot of the old school types still touring & being true to their roots. Not that I am against innovation. There are plenty of younger entertainers that are old school, Gretchen Wilson is one of my favorites. There's a lot of great stuff out there, but they seem to choose what goes along with mainstream the best. There's a few good artists in country music that's still trying to 'keep it country', hey really shine next to those pop artists who sound and look like they should be on an MTV award show. It's not that I mind their success, but i mind that they call themselves country.

What's happened?? Well, a few years ago they decided that they needed to broaden the market. They have tried to do this a couple of ways. Awhile back, they actually had the CMA's in New York. Now I have to admit, it was pretty damned cool sitting in Madison Square Gardens during the CMA's and having your name called, let me tell you. But New York City? They don't even have a country station in Manhatten! So that plan didn't work out so well. The next plan seems to have caught on...youth. The young, blond, and gorgeous... Country has just started catching up to Pop in the fact that looks drive the industry.

The trend of branching the genre into "New" Country and Classic Country will just continue and intensify. But friends, there is ONLY country music, not new country. The traditional acts still do very very well. Loretta Lynn, George Jones, George Strait, Alan Jackson still pack in the crowds.

The thing that made me happy is the fact that George Straight won for--what was it?--Album of the Year! Thank you, Mr. Strait, and Mr. Jackson, for refusing to compromise or be compromised. But the award shows are always going to be youth-oriented (It's why Englebert doesn't show up a whole lot at the American Music Awards).

I write . . . from the heart. And that's country music. It's about life and all the things we as humans encounter. I really see country music heading in the direction of losing traditional, pure country music and part of our nation's heritage along with it. I've even had other so called country musicians tell me "Im not playin all that tear jerkin crap." Well, What's wrong with tear jerkin' stuff?? REAL MEN CRY! The biggest compliments to me on my music are, "It made me cry" or "It made me think". How powerful is that? Things like that make it all worth while. THATS COUNTRY MUSIC!

This pseudo country music you hear these days is something that comes and goes quickly. It's hard to learn the words if you can even remember them! Lots of folks like to dance, especially two steppers. But try to dance to the latest 'country' music. You might as well stay home.

Nobody wants to touch peoples hearts and lives anymore. They just want a good "HOOK" that will sale albums. It doesn't matter if the song says anything or not. Some of the old classic country artists like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, just to mention a few, would be tossed out on their ears today and never be considered for a record deal or publishing by the current trends in country music among major labels.

Hmmmm . . . I guess WE share part of the problem when we as writers and entertainers stop writing and singing/playing good country music! Seems the writers have sold their souls to the record companies and trying to appease them, have given up and sacrifice our nation's heritage.

To me, the record companies are run by people who don't know or care about pure country music--it's background or historical developments. They may be too young to have ever grown up with real country music, and are the ones controlling the music industry. They seem to cater to the very young and others who also don't know pure country music. Hopefully, one day will find it again and think they discovered something new!

I remember listening to the radio at the kitchen table with my grandmother on the weekends when I went to stay with her. We heard all the good songs. Not so much any more. Although the other day, I heard a familiar country song so I tuned in. . . I thought it was pretty damn cool that some station had the balls to play bluegrass/classic country instead of the new country that everyone is playing and pushing.

The business is sucking the beauty out of it...just like it does with everything, it seems. They just want to bring in the non-country fans otherwise country--or what passes for country these days--wouldn't be doing as well as it's doing right now. The only thing that makes most of these acts country is the fact that there's fiddle player in the band and/orthe singer has a Southern accent. The rest are Southern Rock, not country. They do sometimes have a fiddle player in the band; I guess that makes them a country act??

As Southern Rock bands, they are pretty damn good, though. But if they put themselves out there as a Southern Rock band rock radio wouldn't touch them. So they put themselves out there as country bands. There have always been country-pop though. But it was always still country music.

I think the independent companies may rule the day over the major labels. Independent artists may be the ones in the driver's seat, not them. As I said, there are many who want pure country music to return. Everyone I have talked to says the same things: rock and country don't mix! Like water and oil don't mix. Many folks are unhappy with what they hear on the TV, radio and music awards. One can probably testify to the fact due to a slack seen in CD sales. What makes people think you have to have dazzling light shows, dancing around on stage and yelling at the top of your lungs into the mike for music to be popular? George Strait and George Jones never had to do that, and look at their continued popularity over the years!

Real Country. . . I'm talkin "Meat and taters for supper" type of country is considered a bad thing now days among producers. I try to keep up with the times but when it comes to my country roots and country music, I want to stay true to myself and those before me who really lived that life.

People still want to hear and enjoy music that can take people back to there childhood through music. Sittin on the front porch at Grandma and Grandpa's listening to friends makin' music. But its so hard to find people who are willing to listen and appreciate it for what it is: our national Heritage and also our legacy. There's got to be a way to make record label realize that there are still pure country music lovers out there. But I'm afraid there's not enough of us to be profitable for them, or at least, that's what companies think.

So very many people have expressed the concern of keeping country and rock separated. I still know what the heart of country music is all about--music that's timeless and at the same time takes us back through the years to the day when the country greats ruled the radio and the grand ol' opry. It was really nice to hear, and still is . . .

I have actually been told several times that I was too "COUNTRY" to be marketable but to keep up the good work. What they should tell singers like us is that we're not writing enough rock-n-roll for country music. Well, in my opinion, country should be country and rock should be rock and so on.

In short, I believe there is room for both: old country and new country (or better still, country rock but don't confuse others by calling it country, it's not!). If we could somehow catch the right ear of those who believe as I do, pure country music can still bring in lots of people who are sick of this new pretend country. It could be amazing. All of us believers and keepers of the country music tradition are separate individuals. Can we return to the original country format we were bred on, but have lost over the years? Is it possible to turn around Nashville's current focus on pseudo-country music? We can . . . if writers, artists and producers let it happen!

Does Nashville need a change? Definitely. But looks like the traditional country music vigilantes, the pure country renegade classic country artists and fans need to ride into Nashville town and take over the reigns before the beauty, passion, and part of this nation's heritage is forever lost in the annals and pages of time and the facades of marketing techniques that promote sales--not good country music."

--J.C. High Eagle


(c) Joyce Ramgatie/J.C. High Eagle 2016    Email  info@joyce-ramgatie.com    http://www.countrymusicchart.net