I stumbled across a song called 'County Line' by Cass McCombs a couple of weeks back, it’s a beautiful ballad from his album 'Wits End' about returning to a former home you never loved but which still has a hold on you. When Cass McCombs sings 'You never even tried to love me' in his soulful fragile croon it really hits you in the gut the only way a great song can. Have a listen:
While you couldn't class that song as a country song, the vocals and melody reminde me of one of my favourite country singers Gram Parsons, which in turn reminded me of how much I hate the Eagles.
If you're not familiar with Gram Parsons, he's an influential country rock singer who tragically died in 1973 from a morphine overdose at the age of 26. He was originally in the Byrds but went on to form the Flying Burrito Brothers before going solo and releasing two great albums 'GP' and 'The Grievous Angel'. Gram struggled in obscurity for most of his career partly due to the colossal sales of the Eagles, who had taken country music and turned it into the musical equivalent of a Texas redneck farting into an empty KFC bucket, providing further proof that the most successful band in a genre is often the least talented and interesting. If Gram Parsons was a Flying Burrito then the Eagles were a low grade sausage roll constructed of pig snouts and anuses encased in a dry flaky pastry.
But when I was an ignorant 17 year old I thought all country music was rubbish because of the Eagles, what a fool I was. Luckily I saw past the infinitely tedious guitar solo of 'Hotel California' to the crusty golden nuggets of Neil Young and Gram Parsons underneath. Here's a bit of Gram for you. This song is called 'Brass Buttons'.
So in conclusion, don't judge country music by the Eagles or Garth Brooks in the same way you wouldn't judge all Hip Hop music by ‘Boom! Shake the room’ by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Don’t miss out on all the goodness on offer like I did.
Before I sign off take a look at this performance of the absurdly great country standard 'Galveston' by an impeccably coiffed Glen Campbell. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a protest song against war taken from the personal perspective of a man on the frontline reminiscing about his home and the love of his life. Prepare for an emotional rollercoaster.