Country Music

I’m not much of a fan of country music. I think that the reasons for this are pretty much the same as the reasons that I don’t like a lot of modern pop music – it’s usually over-produced, soulless and interchangeable with any one of a thousand other songs. That said, there are some country artists and albums that I really love, simply because they stand apart from the crowd. Simply put, I love good music, whether it’s rap, country, Norwegian death metal, or calypso. If you’re like me, here are a few country records that you might find to be worth your valuable time.

imagesEmmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball is considered by many to be a classic of modern alternative country, and if you’re looking for someone who disagrees with that idea, keep right on looking. Simply put, I cannot praise this record highly enough. Every aspect, from Harris’ world-worn vocals to Daniel Lanois’ emotive guitar and Larry Mullen’s steady and melodic drumming, comes together for this masterwork, ostensibly about life in southern America, but relatable for anyone who’s got anything in their past that they regret. Lanois has also crafted some amazing country-flavored soundscapes for films like Sling Blade, along with some of his own work, but this was a high point in the careers of almost everyone involved in the project.

220px-JohnnyCashAmericanIIISolitaryManPretty much any record from Johnny Cash’s looooong and extensive catalog could have made an appearance on this list – the man was a real American hero who knew instinctively how to tell a story and, just as importantly, how to sing it. My choice for this list, though, is one of his final albums, number three in the man in black’s American series, Solitary Man. The thing about this album that makes it stand out even among the luminous discography of Mr. Cash is the sense it evokes of a life lived well. One of the things that defines such a life is the mistakes – how else can we learn if we never ask, after all, and making mistakes is almost always the result of asking questions, pushing boundaries, wondering “what if”. Solitary Man is the sound of a man who spent a lifetime asking those questions and, in looking back, is ready to share some of that wisdom with the rest of us. There are very few Johnny Cash originals on this record – almost every song is a cover – but the story is told through his track selection as much as it is in the lyrics. It’s in the sigh that was breathed out just seconds after the recorded shut off. It’s in the way Cash’s voice communicates more truly than any word ever could.

Reading the above, there are some commonalities between each of the albums I selected. The worn quality of both singers’ voices; the sense of Americana; and the fact that both records consist of covers almost exclusively. I guess that from that, we can extrapolate that “country music”, at least when it’s done right, is less about content than it is about delivery, and now that I think about it, that’s true of art across the spectrum, in whatever medium you’re looking at. It’s not so much what you say – it’s how you say it.




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  • Martell

    Yikes. The amount of disagree can be no higher. Moore’s FROM HELL is a revelation; its bones and viscera show shades of London that contains more research -cited, mind you- than nearly any other citybuilding attempt in fiction short of Joyce mapping out Dublin in Ulysses. Moore’s vision and the art of the graphic novel combine to yield a cohesive work unequivocally both more enlightening and more riveting than the pseudo-psychotropic candy-coated dumbed-down juvenile mess that was the movie. Anyone who cannot derive a pound of meaning per page and weigh it against the drop-in-a-bucket approach to the often silly film adaptation and come away regaling the brilliance of the novel should simply have their critic’s license revoked. The deliberate pacing speaks to the fact that it was released issue by issue over a period of nearly six years, and was not released all at once. It was a running series, the full volume of which represents its entire arc. Turn in your badge, Joshua, and your weapon There is a place here in my officer’s desk for them, you can have them back when you’ve slept it off and had a shave and a shower and put down the bottle of whatever you’ve been drinking– get the good stuff next time, the dregs will rot your mind and make you a fan of the Huges Brothers. The Bros. Hughes are style-over-substance directors and while the film isn’t a complete waste of time, it is certainly a forgettable adaptation and the mere idea of comparing it to the comic is a questionable goal in and of itself even from the start. Calling the written/drawn work “boring” is a welcome caveat to any reader of this entire review; it saves us all the time of having to discredit this meaningless opinion-piece drivel from an unqualified internet stooge with any actual, studied constructive criticism. There’s a reason Moore refuses to watch adaptations of his work, this movie is paramount among them. And someone who attacks the art for being “sketchy…” Yeah. No offense, Joshua, but if you have to qualify your statements with “I’m not an art critic, but…” You should probably stop talking right then, because you’re about to reveal some ignorance that would be better served being corrected and revised than shared with the world. The art in this book is amazing. I don’t need to go into why this art style marries perfectly with the content, it’s self-evident when you read the book. The Mary Kelley scene in the film is simply unnerving and gory– in the book it made me want to vomit and simultaneously I could not stop reading. The book, with its black and white rendering, managed to disturb me more than an actor wielding a blade in a million dollar setpiece. Readers! Do not listen to this person. Read the novel yourself and make your own determination. “Geek chic,” does not qualify someone to write on topics like Alan Moore. FROM HELL, the graphic novel, is a studied, deliberate, beautiful, horrifying, stunning masterpiece by a master writer. The film is not. Take it from a higher authority than a music editor. In the future, maybe the Music Editor should stick to Music, because if this opinion piece is any indication, he certainly doesn’t know much about comics or movies.