Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Does she get paid for this?

Alison Bonaguro, that is:

...someone played this new song, "Just Breathe," for me...I did like it. Until I found out that it was A PEARL JAM SONG. Pearl Jam, of the screaming grungy alt-rock fame. Not really my thing as a hardcore country fan. But since my gut reaction to this song was a good one, I think I'd better add it to my one-off playlist and keep it handy in case anyone ever accuses me of having a one-track mind.
and for this?
Well, when I don't hear twin fiddles and a steel guitar, I think I must be listening to just another rock song. And I don't really like it. So when I first saw this Rascal Flatts video for "Unstoppable," with so much guitar and not much else, I was not a fan. But then I remembered, "Oh yeah, I love this song."
One-track mind? One could be forgiven for thinking someone who would write things like that had no mind at all. I think anyone who likes Rascal Flatts has little if any business calling him/herself a hardcore country fan. And I daresay that a one-off playlist of one or two songs each from a few non-country singers or bands isn't even close to an indicator of being open-minded when it comes to other genres of music. Let's see a few albums from those other artists and some intelligent conversation about them. Otherwise you're just a shallow-minded poser. And to show I'm *not* a shallow-minded poser, a few comments about a sampling of my own iTunes...

Kelly Clarkson, Breakaway (2004): Yes, I admit it, I bought this cd and really enjoyed it. I'm not a fan of the whole American Idol concept, and I think those who call Adam Lambert a "rock god" don't know their ass from a hole in the ground. But this was a nice, well-rounded top-40 pie, served up by one of the best voices in pop music these days. I particularly liked the songs that had their main characters refusing to be walked on, such as "Gone" and "Walk Away." But the slower songs that showed their characters' more vulnerable side, such as "Because of You" and "Where Is Your Heart" were enjoyable as well.

Megadeth, "Rust In Peace" (1990): The band started by ex-Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine in 1985 had a string of great thrash metal records from its formation, but it was "Rust in Peace" that many say was the band's artistic peak. I am still working on my Megadeth collection, so I can't honestly make that assessment, but I can say that this album is a thrash metal masterpiece, from beginning to end. The galloping guitar intro to "Holy Wars (The Punishment Due)" gets me going every time, and "Tornado of Souls" has a really infectious groove to it. Mustaine's topics were very similar to James Hetfield and company's -- religious wars ("Holy Wars"), secret government compounds housing aliens ("Hangar 18"), and the brutality of war in general ("Take No Prisoners"). A lot of people love one band and hate the other, but I love them both, and this album is a prime example of why I love Megadeth.

Merle Haggard, "Down Every Road" (1994): If you get one Haggard compilation in your life, this 4-cd boxed set is the one to get. They called Merle the "poet of the common man," and this 100-song collection is the ultimate illustration of every reason for that. Many of Merle's great prison songs are on here ("Sing Me Back Home," "Mama Tried," "Huntsville"), the tales of the common folk of America and the hard times they faced ("If We Make It Through December," "California Cottonfields," "Tulare Dust"), and even Merle's derision of society's intolerance of interracial love ("Go Home," "Irma Jackson.") If you're a hardcore country fan, well, you NEED this in your collection.

I could go on, but you get the point. I'll put my music tastes up against anyone's -- perhaps not my knowledge, but then I'll freely admit that I have a lot left to learn. I should note, though, that my wife made a good point a few weeks back as we were tooling down IH-35 on the north side of San Antonio. She said that it was not necessarily a bad thing to have narrow tastes in music, that if you claimed to like any kind of music you really weren't much of a discriminating music fan. Some might think that has an elitist air to it, but as she said, if you like everything in general, you like nothing in particular. And as I thought about it, I came to see there's nothing wrong with having what people would term "narrow tastes." Some might still think I have them. But I like to think of myself as a hell of a lot more enlightened than someone who wouldn't like a Pearl Jam song because it was supposedly "not country," yet in another blog post sing the praises of Rascal Flatts as a "country" band.

(h/t Country California)