Alternative Country is a hard genre to figure out. The label, in light of the music attached to it, seems kind of silly. Here’s my take on it. Modern Country music is essentially classic rock ‘n’ roll, complete with screaming electric guitar solos, sung with a twang. To differentiate from actual rock ‘n’ roll, the singer wears a token cowboy hat, unless female, in which case the hat is dropped for a pair of tight blue jeans. Modern Country is also home to the modern sappy ballad, a space on the musical spectrum formerly dominated by 70s cheese acts and 80s hair metal bands. Alternative Country, then, is the collection of actual country artists playing actual country music dressed as actual country musicians. It’s akin to a musical version of the Great Vowel Shift of the late Middle Ages. I’ll hereby coin the term, Great Country Music Shift of the late 20th century.
That’s a pretty good rant from someone who doesn’t regularly listen to Country music of any sort. I’m the very definition of the peanut gallery in this instance. Still, I did dabble ever so briefly into Alternative Country back in the 90s. And by dabble I mean I somehow discovered one single artist and purchased a five song EP to add to my collection. So, yeah, hardcore y’all!
I couldn’t tell you when or where I first heard this artist or this song. It was likely on a music video channel after a night of drinking. That’s the best way to listen to any Country music. Listening to it again for this blog post I really should explore this guy’s catalogue some more. Who knows, maybe even broaden my scope to include additional Alt Country acts. Because one thing became abundantly clear again, just now, this stuff rocks, errr, countries (why exactly do we say something rocks even if it is not rock music?).
The double neck guitar is the stuff of legend in rock circles, but the guit-steel takes this to a whole ‘nother level of awesome. This ain’t rock or even New Country, but it’s still worth cranking the volume knob. Put on your cowboy boots, don your cowboy hat and kick off your weekend with a fantastic cover of the obscure 1966 minor country hit by Red Simpson, “Highway Patrol”, by Junior Brown from the 1995 EP Junior High.