"Country Music" is the granddaddy of C&W periodicals. It still has the gossip column by Hazel Smith. (Did you know Billy Bob Thornton is recording an album? Do you care?) They still have the dullest centerfolds in the world - this time a Garth Brooks shot recycled from the cover of "Sevens." This month they also have an interview with Collin Raye, where he comes out against gun control, abortion and gay rights. Mr Raye also slams Pat Buchanan and Slobodan Milosevic for being too liberal. (Okay, not really. But at one point he actually does say "Guns don't kill people; people kill people," proving once again that right-wing "philosophy" is only bumper-sticker deep.)
There's all kinds of fun stuff in "Country Weekly" - trivia quizzes, a crossword puzzle and a rather unsettling game where they scramble together the faces of Donna Fargo and Faron Young. They also have recipes. In this issue, Merle Haggard reveals his love for - some might say obsession with - beans. All the awards this man has won and what he's proud of is a plaque that just says "Merle Haggard: The Bean Man." Quoth the Hag, "My beans have more umpth to the jump." (Whatever that means.)
A newbie on the music mag rack is "Country Music Today" or CMT. As you might expect from a magazine published by a cable television channel, CMT has lots of pictures and is mostly concerned with outward appearances. Andy Griggs uses Clinique soap, Close-up toothpaste and Sebastian hairspray. Itıs not all skin-deep though, we also learn that Griggs does not wear underwear and he "really admires" the way Al Pacino dressed in "Devilıs Advocate,² which tells us perhaps more than we want to know about Mr. Griggs.
If you look hard enough you might find "Country Music Live," just celebrating their first anniversary. I must say they do a good job of covering old and new. Matraca Berg and Rascal Flatts share page space with Ernest Tubb and Glen Campbell. They've got concert reviews, CD reviews (is it just me or does the cover of Allison Moorer's "The Hardest Part" look like a porno promo poster, especially with that title. This is the only country mag I've seen with a comic strip, and it is probably the only comic strip in the world that stars a hermit crab. (That's right, a hermit crab. A little country-loving crustacean.)
And there you have it. I just saved you about nine bucks and helped keep your conscience clear. You can settle down happily with the mag in your hands knowing that CST gives you more umpth to the jump.