I love Guy Garvie’s show on 6 Music. Yesterday, driving back to Scotland from a brief visit to London we listened in the car as we came through the Lake District. Perfect soundtrack to a perfect setting.
On the show Guy has a feature called Becapedia in which someone called – Becca…shares her musical knowledge. In the end the feature redeemed itself by playing a classic song by Marty Robbins. Getting there however she told us that country music ‘only appeals to me on a comedic level, thanks to its many overly dramatic scenarios involving gun slinging strangers, lame horses, righteous sheriffs and sweethearts waiting back returning back at the homestead to cook up some biscuits and gravy.‘
Oh dear. For someone so keen to avoid the cliche, she seemed more than happy to trot out a few of her own.
Country music is an easy target. But because of that brighter people should know it’s lazy to equate all of it with the worst examples of the genre. One can only imagine how easy it would be to dismiss pop music by imagining it existed within the confines of re-runs of Top of The Pops.
I say all of this by way of introducing two significant radio events this week. Firstly, on Tuesday night’s Another Country we welcome Lee Ann Womack as she showcases songs from her brilliant 2017 album, ‘The Lonely, The Lonesome and The Gone.’ In the title track itself it refers back to the classic country catalogue and within a dozen or so tracks she creates a sultry alt-country noir which makes for a brilliant listen. It’s brave too. Lee Ann’s own career has gone from crossover pop-country in the late 90’s by way of CMA and Grammy awards to a nuanced, darker styling which she recreates with her acoustic trio in session for her this week. It’s playing and singing at the highest level and really not to be missed.
On Wednesday night I’m back on BBC Radio 2 for the final programme of my New Tradition. As most of my radio life involves country music we’ve decided we should go out with a programme titled, ‘So You Think You Don’t Like Country Music?‘ For people who imagine country is Garth, glitter and gulches I recommend it to you. However I’m well aware those reading this blog will be wholly disabused of that notion.
What I do know is this: Country music is the raw, human stories of ordinary people. It’s the high lonesome sound of rural folk who’ve carried their own strains from different parts of the world and, at its best, it can make you laugh and carry you through the darkest of times. It’s too varied to be easily dismissed and without it there would be none of the great songs or artists we consider to be part of the canon of popular music today.
You think you don’t like country music? On our show, we love it. Join me if you can live this Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland from 9 and at the same time on Wednesday on BBC Radio 2.