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Politics In Country Music “Country music” is also called “country and western” music. It is a 20th century style of music originating from predominantly southern and western areas of the United States. It was originally called “hillbilly music.”

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politics in country music
Politics In Country Music
  • “Country music” is also called “country and western” music.
  • It is a 20th century style of music originating from predominantly southern and western areas of the United States.
  • It was originally called “hillbilly music.”
The composers and performers of country music have traditionally been white.
  • In the beginning, the music focused on the traditions of English, Irish, and Scottish settlers in the southern states, especially in the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Ballads are the dominant musical form.
  • The songs often have stories, many of which are historically based.
  • Early country music focused used fiddles.
Country music evolved during he 20th century, becoming more complex musically.
  • Film stars, such as Gene Autry, creatively altered country music to have a more “western” flavor.
  • Country music was also influenced by the swing rhythms of jazz, and new instrumentation helped transform it into an electronic phenomenon compatible with modern and popular dance venues.
Most country music has a love orientation, as is true of most “pop” music today.
  • However, a significant amount of country music uses the traditional story format of country music lyrics to convey political content.
  • The result has been that country music now represents a sub-region and its popular and largely political culture in the U.S.
  • There is representational quality to this.
Some of the country music that departed most significantly from the traditional country-folk form was called “outlaw music,” and was pioneered by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.
  • They blended rock rhythms with country’s instrumentation while maintaining the intimate and reflective nature of traditional country lyrics.
  • This had connections with musical styles called “Southern rock” and “country rock.” These latter styles originated on the West Coast (mostly Los Angeles) driven by West Coast immigrants from the South.
The political content of country music was a direct outgrowth of country’s desire to tell stories.
  • Much country music represents an emotional outlet for people who are generally poor and who have relatively lower levels of education and (importantly) status.
  • Country music tell their stories, and these are stories that are often filled with tragedy.
When country music acts as a representational venue for political content, it often has a patriotic flavor.
  • This in part is due to a traditionally high level of involvement within the U.S. military of young people from the South.
  • Country music has a tension in the southern vs. U.S. dialectic. Thus, there is a political tension in much of country music since it represents a people that have historically been marginalized in U.S. national politics.
  • This has changed in recent decades.
Country music also can be used to support specific political interests, or interests with political perspectives.
  • A good example of specialized use of country music is Johnny Cash’s album, “Bitter Tears,” which is about the Native American historical experience.
  • This album is highly political, and the lyrics strongly support Native American political and social views.
On the other end of the scale, country music has been used to support ideological perspectives of very narrow segments of American (and especially Southern) society. Some of these perspectives are highly offensive to other Americans.
  • Perhaps the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) example of such country music is the highly racist, homophobic, obscene, and misogynist songs of David Allan Coe.