What a better way of capping off a country fair experience than with a country music concert!?!? Oh yes folks, you read it here: your devout head-banging metal-head went to his first country concert, put on by headliner Brad Paisley and supporting acts Eric Church and the Wreckers.
I was hardly dragged there kicking and screaming before you get the wrong idea; I went willfully and gladly to make my woman happy and in the end it was quite enjoyable. I’m not about to rush out and buy a full catalog of country CDs and I’m definitely not going to trade in my copy of Aerosmith’s "Rocks" for "Mud On the Tires" any time soon, so I guess I’m still not technically a fan, but I can appreciate it.
I believe that one of the keys to country’s popularity is the relatively simple story-based lyrics that are featured in most songs. Many country songs feature a narrative storyline and are usually quite relevant to the listener – songs about love and loss, about life and work. They aren’t very abstract, but rather straightforward and understandable – and if case anyone takes that the wrong way, I don’t mean that as an insult, but rather a compliment. I don’t know what’s easier to write a song about: nonsense or real life, but I’m guessing they are both pretty tough.
This is the opposite end of the spectrum from many other genres – in rock and rap/hip-hop, songs are often about a lifestyle unfamiliar to the listener, and that is part of the appeal. The artists do the drugs, things and girls that we could/would never do, serving as escapism for the listener. Others, like folk, are often about an idea or ideal that its listeners center themselves around. Jazz, classical and even new age are more about the pure expression of musical ability and the raw emotion evoked by them.
The closest thing to country that I enjoy is blues, which lacks the twang but often has the narrative style, but is usually less "every day" in their stories. Country music, especially over the last few years, has managed to create interesting music that features rather mundane topics compared to the sex and drugs of rock – your girlfriend burning a cake isn’t exactly "Brown Sugar" even if the cake was made with it.
As my dad says "if we all liked the same thing, the world would be pretty boring" so I’ll take my rock and go to the occasional country concert if she’ll take her country and go to the occasional rock concert!
What is interesting is how much country has borrowed from pop and rock music – the production value of the show was excellent, with more lights than you ever would have seen 15 years ago at a country concert and complete with custom videos to accompany the music. There were also a few hints of stolen licks from various rock songs here and there, showing their hand as to just how much of a cross-over country music has become.