Country California

Country music. Seriously.

Play Me the (Same) Old Stuff

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that country radio just isn’t that into me. Demographically speaking, we should be a fair match. I’m not a teenage girl or a soccer mom or a teenage soccer mom – which precludes a perfect match – but I am a white guy in the suburbs of northern California. That gives me some pretty secure vanilla credentials. Somehow, though, our relationship just doesn’t work.

I don’t actually hate most of the songs played on the radio. In fact, part of the problem is that the music seems specifically designed to not excite much feeling one way or the other; it’s meant to go down easy. When a song slips through that I actually like – as “Another Try” did recently – it makes me realize how uninterested I am in most of the stuff surrounding it. So, I usually stick to my CD collection, an ever-expanding assortment of music I’m sure to enjoy. I still give the radio a shot when all I need is inoffensive background noise. Sometimes it can’t even fulfill that purpose: “Bob That Head” pulls me right out of whatever I’m doing and sends me scrambling to pop in a CD every time.

You know what annoys me most, though? Country radio isn’t content with playing boring new music. They also work retroactively, making old music more boring in order to make the new music seem less so. They do this by overplaying the same few ‘classics’ to the point that they effectively become elevator muzak.

I love “Forever and Ever, Amen” and “Deeper than the Holler.” I really do. But are those songs so markedly better than Randy Travis’ other fourteen Billboard chart-toppers that they deserve to be played daily while the rest are seldom if ever touched outside of ‘classic country’ programs? The same thing goes for “I Try to Think About Elvis” by Patty Loveless, “Maybe It Was Memphis” by Pam Tillis, “Pickup Man” by Joe Diffie, “It’s a Little Too Late” by Mark Chesnutt, “Straight Tequila Night” by John Anderson, and a host of other ‘old’ classics. All these artists have catalogs worth exploring and, what’s more, other hits worth playing. Why not throw us some “Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart” or “Lonely Too Long” or “Money in the Bank”?

Because if we hear a different old song, it might not pass by unnoticed. We might stop to listen closely and think about it. We might even realize that we like it more than a lot of the new stuff Nashville is pushing on us these days. There’s no sense in taking that risk. For country radio, spinning “Forever and Ever, Amen” over and over again until everyone stops caring is an important means of self-preservation.

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7 Comments

  1. I completely agree with you. I love Randy Travis. He has a brand new CD out that is so awesome. I have repeatedly asked one of our stations to play his new single Dig Two Graves but everytime they play Forever and Ever, Amen instead. Very frustrating.

  2. I like the way you think!! You appreciate “Another Try” too? I was beginning to think I was about the only one.

    I feel the same way about country radio. I don’t hate it, but nothing on it really excites me at all to the point where people might get the impression that I hate it, sometimes. And they do play the same classics, when they do play classics, all the time, including my favorite Travis song “Forever And Ever Amen.” I don’t even want to hear my favorite songs all the time. I like variety. That’s why I subscribe to XM Radio and pull out my CDs, have a huge external hard drive full of music of my choice and listen to my mp3 player rather than listen to radio as well.

    PS. Since we seem to jive so well as far as music tastes, I checked out Robbie Fulks (due to a previous post) and I really dig him now. So, thanks.

    PPS. I also like Paul Overstreet’s newest album:), which is referring to an older post of yours (I’m just too lazy to go find that particular post and comment on it).

    –Leeann

  3. I’m with you, ksgirl. It is quite frustrating. It seems like when artists reach a certain age, radio will keep playing one or two of their old hits but refuse to get behind any of their new material.

    It does seem that our tastes are pretty similar, Leeann. I loved “Another Try.” We had XM for a couple years, but eventually it got to the point where it seemed like even they were playing the same stuff too often. Plus there seemed to be more interruptions – ads and talk and such – as time went on. We had to cancel. Anyway, I’m glad you’re finding some new music to explore here. I don’t have nearly enough Robbie Fulks in my collection, but I have enough to know that I can heartily recommend anything he puts outs. That Paul Overstreet album is just great and I wish more people could hear it.

    Thanks for the comments.

  4. I gave up on country radio and really all radio except for ESPN radio about 10 years ago. Still don’t miss it.

  5. I tend to listen to WSM – although there are an awful lot of ads on there. It would be great if more contemporary stations would play some New Traditional. I know Josh Turner’s on the play list, and he’s great – but what about supporting Randy’s new CD, like has already been said. There’s some great Country music out there which is so far untapped because Radio want to keep playing “Love Is a Beautiful Thing” and “Just Got Started Loving You” all the time.

  6. I’d like to update my previous comment by saying that I’ve finally succumbed to the ipod to replace the mp3 player now. I couldn’t go back.

  7. I agree with you. I would suggest listening to more Texas Music/Red Dirt. Nashville has given up being original for the chances of just making a hit. Nobody cares about just being themselves. They latch onto whatever the latest trend is and milk it for all they can. In the last few months, I notice a growing tendency in Nashville to try and make their acts more and more “Texas” style. Perhaps they should let the artists have more freedom in their look/sound/performance and country music as a whole would return to its former glory.

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