Country Mike

Rural Anthems -- Good or Bad for Country Music?

Mike Sudhalter  |  March 13, 2011

It's a theme practically as old as country music itself.

Talk about the simple life and glorify small town living, while bashing sophisticated city folks.

On a commercial level, I get it. Everybody is trying to show just "how country" they are. If that's your goal, my advice would be sticking to fiddles and steel guitars.

Otherwise, you don't have to puff out your chest and tell us how country you are.

On the contrary, I can also understand where those songs are coming from. People here in Middle America are overwhelmed with television shows and media that are usually based on the Coasts. Sometimes, we feel under-represented here, and often when we are represented, it feels like we're being mocked.

So, showing the pride is understandable, but it gets to be cliche almost.

I think people get tired of hearing about celebrity Hollywood entertainers, when local artists are making great music here in Texas.

That's why I'm a big fan of songs that mock the Celebrity Culture like "Hollywood" by Aaron Watson and "Celebrity" by Brad Paisley.

The cynic would say aren't these people making money off mocking Hollywood? Yes, but at least they don't take themselves to seriously. Watch one Brad Paisley video, and you'll know what I mean.

Jason Aldean has come up with several hits by way of this formula. "Hick Town" is the biggest example of the cliched, rural pride song. And if that appeals to the base, it will sell.

On this most recent album, there's "Flyover States," which I think is kind of cool because a lot of people who travel between the coasts or the big cities often forget about these places - which are often hidden treasures. Few things bother me more than when people try to pass judgement on these places before even visiting them.

Every small town - no matter where it's located - has something unique about it.

Because I've lived in small towns and big cities, rural and metropolitan, I feel like I can speak about this subject with some authority.

Speaking of Rural and Breathtaking to Urban and Scenic: here's a slideshow of photos from California and Arizona, circa 2006-08.

You read through my rant, so here's your reward for making it through. Enjoy.