I’m not saying that country music doesn’t have its uses. If you walk into a diner and hear a country song playing in the background, you can order grits with pork chops and eggs confidently, without even glancing at the menu. If you go on a first date with a woman that switches your car radio to a country station the minute the engine starts, she has already decided to have sex with you. I don’t eat grits and there is only one woman in my dating pool, so this info is not relevant to me, but feel free to use it if you need it.
There are about three country songs I like, and Dolly Parton is a national treasure. Apart from that, I didn’t have much use for the genre, until country went Republican. Country has always been a little bit Republican, of course, being listened to primarily by white guys who can’t dance, but are lured onto the dance floor anyway by leggy white girls who favor short-shorts and cowgirl boots. Often these types are staunch Republicans, until one of those cowgirls needs an abortion.
The serious Republicanation of country, though, started with Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town,” a song which threatens anybody from a bigger town who wants to attempt a carjacking or mugging in some mythical tiny burg. Of course, committing these crimes is a shitty idea in some hamlet where everybody knows everybody else. “Gollee, Clem, I ain’t seen you since you dropped out of fifth grade. And you grew up to be a carjacker! Wonders never cease!”
If you want to commit crime in a small town, it’s better to stick to small-town type criminal activities, like niece-fucking or being a closeted gay phys-ed coach who eventually gets busted for patting the wrong boy on the rump. Jason Aldean could have written a whole other verse about crimes you can get away with in a one-stoplight town, like smacking your woman around or embezzling money from your congregation. He didn’t, though.
Then came “Rich Men North of Richmond,” a song by former nobody Oliver Anthony that got to be number 1 on the country charts, which complains vaguely about wealthy snots who control the lives of poor, honest people like Oliver Anthony and his kin. Of course, this relationship between the haves and the have-nots has existed since about 6,000 BC, so Anthony is a bit late to this party.
Republicans seized on this ditty, and even played it at their debate in Milwaukee. That pissed even Oliver Anthony off, because while he and his friends bitch about shadowy forces that control their lives, the Republicans that were onstage in Milwaukee are those shadowy forces, trying to get Anthony and his ilk to worry about bilingual signs in Walmart and transgender hootenannies in the holler while their bridges rot and their healthcare gets ripped away.
Also, Milwaukee is well north of Richmond. You don’t believe me, get out your Mercator and a straightedge and see for yourself.
John Cougar Mellencamp, who really grew up in a small town, wrote a song about small town life that was neither racist, vaguely threatening or whiny, back in 1985. You can listen to it here.
Or not. I don’t blame you. Fucker sounds like a Democrat.