Sunday, November 13, 2011

Alt Country?

More of a by-the-bye than a real post: you may have noticed some "alt country" in my tastes. I hate that term. Rocknroll, by its very nature is a mix between the blues and country. It wasn't just white people playing the blues- especially because the guys who pioneered it, like Ike Turner and Little Richard were black. It was incorporating what was around- so, from the gaelic and Scots high country interpreting American Swing you derive American Western Swing, then, add some Latino cowboy chords, and you get the kind of Country that people heard- hillbilly music. You add that to the gospel, and jazz derived blues formats, and you get rocknroll. If it was just White guys playing the blues and not a real mix, it'd be a lot slower, and a lot more modal- less open and major chords...
For me, then, Rocknroll inherently has a country element. I've been hearing it since I was a boy, and it was that lack of the electrified country tempo that was killing my love for music in the late seventies. I don't hate the disco beat, and I like funk. I'm ok even with the blues, but minus that hillbilly shuffle, and it gets pretty flaccid.
For me, therefore, a lot of what gets called "alt country" just sounds like rocknroll to me. I've been listening to it about as long as anything else- starting with True West, and then, the Americana side of the Dream Syndicate, and the more pronounced "Death Country" (Thanks George, for that term) of Thin White Rope, all the way back in 1984-85, going through stuff that actually made the country charts like Dwight Yoakam and the Mavericks, into Uncle Tupelo, and Son Volt and Wilco, to the present day, it's always been a part of what I listen to (oh, and bear in mind, I'm skipping over the " Cowpunk" of bands in Los Angeles- everyone from Los Lobos, The Minutemen, The Gun Club, to the Blasters, and X, as I just think of all that as Punk Rock, not even rocknroll)- so much like Alternative rock- Alternative to What?? It's just rocknroll to me....

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