Monday, May 23, 2016

What The Sam Hunt is going on?

I don't listen to radio. If I hear new music, it's largely EDM-based or indie rock from Spotify. So, it's a rare thing where the hot new thing on radio hits my ears.

This is Sam Hunt.

What do I think about it?

I'm not a great fan.

But, I'm okay with it.

Time was, "country" was the barely-changed-from-Scotland-and-Ireland music of Appalachia. That's a big chunk of the Carter Family songbook, but it isn't all. Plenty of their songs end with "Blues" and fit the format. They might not be Blues quite the way that Memphis Minnie might've done it, but they were Blues: 12-bar with AAB rhyme scheme.

And if the Carter Family weren't bluesy enough for you, "T For Texas" by Jimmie Rodgers should be, and both were there in Bristol, Tennessee, at the beginning of Country music. Making black popular music palatable for rural white audiences is a part of what Country has been about since the beginning.

Western Swing, like Bob Wills and his "Faded Love" and "Big Ball's in Cow Town", is an attempt to make Swing music palatable for rural white audiences.

Honky-Tonk, like Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'", is an attempt to make black string-band Blues palatable for white rural audiences.

Rockabilly, like "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins, is an attempt to make Jump Blues palatable for white rural audiences.

That isn't the only tendency in country, but I believe I have shown that this is a core one.

The above track, Sam Hunt's "Make You Miss Me", is an attempt at a Slow Jam. Is it good? I don't know. When I want a slow jam, I go to Tyrese. But it certainly fits the genre. Which means, while I might not like the song (or maybe I do), it fits in tendency of Country music to take on aspects of Black music.

And it's an alternative to current country basically being 80s hair metal with a banjo in the mix.


gizmo mathboy said...

The country I like tends be more what Junior Brown slings. Also, more of the outlaw stuff and the gang outta Bakersfield.

Not sure what to call the Mavericks, their Tejano stuff is more to my liking. I blame the accordion.

I think I prefer psychobilly more than rockabilly but that's a difference in degree really.

Nashville country post...shit...when about Waylong and the rest went "outlaw" probably. I don't mind formula sometimes, but Nashville formula really grates on my nerves for the music I like.

Dave Jacoby said...

Country has always been more pick-and-choose for me. Stick on some rock music and I'll likely accept it, some more than others, but it would have to be an overused song or have something specifically bad for me to turn it off.

With Country, on the other hand, I'm much more likely to say "I don't like Country, but I like Junior Brown. I don't like Country, but I like Emmylou Harris. I don't like Country, but I like these songs by Merle Haggard."

60s Country has two great threads: the Nashville Sound, with lush orchestration cribbed from the elegant pop of the day, which is almost entirely gone from today's music scene, and the Bakersfield Sound, which tried to integrate the more stripped-down Rock & Roll thing. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard are the keys for that, and I love me some Buck Owens. Really, they connect to nobody more, I believe, than pre-Revolver Beatles, mixed to favor the high end of 60s car radios. I do tire of "Yay Truck Driving!" songs, and I think I like it more musically than lyrically.

While I love Chet Atkins as a player and have desired to gain a CGP from him -- not remotely good enough to actually aspire to such a lofty height -- I am not a fan of his as a producer and record executive.

And I might give up music nerd points by saying that I love many Johnny Cash songs, but a little of his work goes a long way with me, and that his musical instincts are cheesier than the American Recordings would suggest.

But nobody has to love what I love. What I think they have to do is acknowledge that Sam Hunt isn't an aberration, but rather Country doing what Country does.

Mark Senn said...

Thanks for your post, Dave. In general I don't like Country but I like this.