Friday, March 05, 2010

Once again, local radio misses it.

I went to Bill Miller's between classes this morning--I have a two-hour break, and it's a chance to get something to eat, since now that I'm on the bus I don't really have time before my first class.  Anyway, this is now my entire (unwilling) exposure to mainstream "country" music.  (I keep thinking I should maybe put quotes around music, too: "country" "music".)

In the midst of a rousing text-message conversation with Erik on topics such as "Where the hell is my fried chicken?" and whether Kenny G should record a "country" album (being that he, too, specializes in bland and inoffensive music), the radio station ran a promo.

Now, I can't tell you which of the local FM "country" stations it was--Bill Miller's used to religiously play Y100, but they at least temporarily switched to KJ97.  In all honesty, I can barely tell them apart: Y100 spends a lot of time talking about how few commercials they play, and KJ97 occasionally plays one (but only one!) Randy Rogers Band song & ran those billboards a few years back reminding us that Pat Green is from San Antonio.  (Er, I could be wrong about that last part.  Maybe Pat Green's ego bought those billboards.  God only knows.)

Actually, I can't even tell you exactly what the promo was, being that I was lost in a pickled-onion haze, but it involved a line about being "from San Antonio, for San Antonio" and that broke through because, really?  They don't.  Not even close.

As I said (via text) to Erik--"So, if I called up and requested 'Señorita Mas Fina', they'd get right on it?"  (Or, hey, "Boogie Woogie Mamacita".)

Somehow, I doubt it.

See, here's the thing about San Antonio.  We march, as they say, to a different drummer.  His name is Chuy, and he doesn't actually play the drums.  He plays the accordion.  'Cause that's how we roll down here.

There's this one Cory Morrow song--damned if I can remember which one--where he counts off at the beginning "Uno! Dos! Ein, zwei, drei!"  And the first time I heard that, I flipped my shit, because THAT is the essence of, if not all of Texas, at least a huge swath of south Texas, including San Antonio.  For all my kvetching about wanting our German heritage to be counted along with our Mexican heritage, I am quite cognizant of the fact that we need both.

And where, musically, do we find this heavy Mexican influence?  NOT in Nashville.  What "country" music presents us with is an overwhelming sea of juedos.  Of white people.  And when I look around me in San Antonio, I do not see a whole bunch of white people.  Hell, when I look around a family gathering, I don't see nothing but white people--along with the Geisslers and Rileys and Kuchlers are a whole bunch of Salinases and Buenos and Rodriguezes.

So how can you possibly represent this city by playing the homogenized music of a homogenized bunch of white people?  I mean, really.  Country California has mocked this recently, and it's true--there are a whole bunch of skinny blonde chicks in Nashville who are damn near impossible to tell apart (and therefore, frankly, interchangeable--my daughters think Kellie Pickler is Taylor Swift).  The men are really no better--even Nashville's Token Black Man™ sounds just like the white guys.

Am I calling Nashville racist?  Well, no.  Not really.  I'm calling them white-bread.  You know, that mushy, soft, flavorless stuff (Wonderbread!) that I sincerely hope most folks grow out of by adulthood.  Let me be clear here--Nashville is simple mush, devoid of any sort of seasoning.  They are selling a prepackaged product, blended together, with all the individuality seasoning skimmed off the top and dumped down the garbage disposal, as utterly bland and inoffensive as they can possibly be in hopes of appealing to as broad an audience as possible.

And you know what?  They have failed.  Miserably.  Gary LeVox's ego aside, country music actually isn't cool.  Except for being, you know, cool to hate.

I am forced to think that their marketing strategy has backfired.  Folks, Pat Green may be from here, but he had to leave here to make a career in country music.  Me'Shell NdegéOcello had to leave county music altogether (she did a bang-up version of Dolly Parton's "Two Doors Down").  And you know what?  That's a damned shame.

I've bitched before about how many good artists Nashville ignores (or, worse, picks up and plays with a little while before discarding--beware, Ryan Bingham).  The thing is, these folks don't fit in.  They refuse to be stripped and scrubbed and repackaged into something more acceptable to the Nashville machine--those that are on the radar, at least.  Every once in a while someone breaks through (Zac Brown Band FTW!  And I noticed the Eli Young Band is up for an ACM as well), but overall it reminds me of the food I used to eat in New England, where their idea of an exotic spice is kosher salt.  Bland, and boring as hell.

Yeah...I think I'm going to skip that.  Thanks anyway.


BobG said...

Sadly, I think you're right. The CW music these days is badly lacking in character. Too much of it is what I refer to as "cowpop", which is usually a bad pop song to which has been added a bit of twang. And the singers are pathetic. As you said, the female singers all blend together. The male singers aren't much better; seems like anyone who can wear a cowboy hat and pose with a guitar is considered a country singer, and are hard to tell apart unless you can actually see them. When I was growing up, you could tell the singers immediately; each had their own personality and character which they lent to their music. And they were from all over the map. Johnny Cash, Patsy Kline, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Horton, etc. All of these people stood out as soon as they started singing, and you knew who they were. I'll stick with all the old-timers, myself.
Just my opinion.

Sabra said...

Oh, man, Johnny Horton vs. hmmm...Kenny Chesney? No contest. "Whispering Pines" alone could kick the rear of any of the lost-love songs they've got today. You reminded me how very much I need to buy another copy of his greatest hits album.

Johanna England said...

THAT is f-ing fantastic! Yes! From one TX girl who detests country music hell, I totally get it. I'm married to a Mexican, too, so I know Chuy personally. Lol. Oh - so right about the New England food as well! Awesome writing, by the way. ;)

Ti m D said...

I can't really disagree with what you said, and can only really add there is no country/western music on the radio anymore only 70's rock. However I must add being from San Antonio and growing up in El Mercado much of the time ... What has 14 legs and sucks?

A mariachi band.