What is it about Country Music? I was with some very old friends the other night and (towards the end of the evening) my good pal Eddie did his Glasgow version of On The Bayou…..it’s a Mickey take of us middle class types leading to the refrain, “In Milngavie -oh.” (readers in non Glasgow places need to note that the above suburb is pronounced Milguy) On reflection I realise that everyone in these parts assumes everyone else has a fair to middling knowledge of the genre. There’s very few households in these parts that couldn’t furnish you with a Hank Williams compilation if they had to find it in a hurry.
This week The Guardian ran a fascinating piece about Route 66 which carried John Steinbeck’s fictional Joad family from Oklahoma from the dust bowl to The Promised Land of California. In the article, Chris McGreal discovers how, even now, the route is lined with disappointment and visceral signs of the current recession: foreclosed banks, repossessed houses and failed enterprises form a backdrop to America’s most famous road. It’s in this environment that County Music finds its true context by allowing the stories of every day folk to be told. John Rich’s song, “Shutting Detroit Down” has become this year’s big country song by telling the story of corporate bonus culture coupled to industry’s affection for mass-redundancy. None of that would surprise fans of Merle Haggard.
So county music still lives in the hearts of ordinary people and perhaps that’s why, here in Scotland, it’s still very popular. Starting on September 1st we will celebrate that popularity by showcasing music from many different decades as well as playing new releases which have taken that music as an inspiration.
This Tuesday look out for our exclusive session from Grizzly Bear and new album tracks from The Felice Brothers, The Low Anthem, Nanci Griffith and George Strait. If that isn’t enough we have some great Country duets which will may well inspire you to send in some suggestions of your own.