An achy breaky riff

The “redneck factor” seems to making a move against broken heartedness as the most popular theme

DEAR country music,

This has been coming for a while. You’ve been asking for it, and it took one of your treasured stars, John Williamson, to finally have a gutful and point out a few truths.

For those not up with it, “the Emu” resigned as president of the Country Music Association of Australia, basically suggesting Australian country had become too American.

Deep down, most listeners to Australian country music will have been aware of this for some time.

It’s sort of one of those unspoken things you don’t speak up about… when you’re speaking that is, so to speak.

Lee Kernaghan seems to mix it up a bit, pronouncing some words with a distinctly Australian tone and others with an American twang. Keith Urban should just about give up his citizenship altogether. (Not really Keith- we love having you as one of Australia’s many “favourite sons”.) Kasey Chambers could have grown up in Georgia just going on her intonations.

The list goes on. Having said that, these are all good artists with some great songs.

Frankly, if you listen to enough modern American country music songs in a row you get a bit tired of the similar format.

Country pride and taking heart in the “redneck factor” seems to making a move against broken heartedness as the most popular theme.

But could this just be the start of a few issues bubbling away under your surface?

Perhaps the one of more concern might be the overt binge drinking references within country music.

Now come on, surely you aren’t that naïve to think your industry is all campfires and sunsets?

Back in 2008, the American Medical Association illustrated the level of alcohol references within American country music.

The report, entitled Content of Analysis of Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs in Popular Music, analysed 279 most popular songs of 2005 according to Billboard magazine.

Of the sample selection of 61 country songs, 33 per cent referenced alcohol use.

No similar study has been done in Australia as far as I’m aware but perhaps its time is should be. The results may be similar.

Here are a few Aussie country songs to provide some thinking material on the matter: 'Beauty’s in the Eye of the Beer Holder', Adam Harvey; 'Drinking Down Our Pay', Sunny Cowgirls; 'Drinking Things Over', Steve Forde; 'Must’ve Been A Hell Of A Party', Sara Storer; 'My Pal Alcohol', Slim Dusty.

There are probably plenty of others. As for the Americans, the list is substantially longer. Time to change focus maybe? After all, there's just a little bit more to us country folk than drinkin' and shootin'.

The Iceberg LettersDear readers - the majority of an iceberg sits below the surface, and it may just take one special letter to see what else lurks under the tip of a topic.


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