Thursday, December 31, 2009

What's that country thing?

 A band at the country music festival in Ustron, Poland, 2009. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Just a year ago, I posted about the Polish country singer Michael Lonstar and his song "What's this country thing?" in which he tries to explain the country western phenomenon to a skeptic. The gist of the song is Lonstar's answers to a "lady" who asks the question, "What's this country thing" -- i.e. what is the appeal of country music. In Europe, where hardcore fans often dress up in wild west attire (and drink a lot... and line-dance a lot...), country music is often scorned by the mainstream. Lovers of pure American country music are sometimes embarrassed by the raucous "scene" -- such as that associated with the trucker festivals and other big events, where a carnival atmosphere can prevail.

Here's a link now to a post on the 9513 blog -- an anthology of artists' responses to the question "what is country music?"

The responses are fascinating -- and reflect what European musicians and fans have told me over and over: i.e. that "country" is more than music,  a "way of life;" that the love the songs for the stories they tell, etc etc.

Here, for example, is Dolly Parton's response:
“Country music, I believe, are ordinary stories told in an extraordinary way, certainly by extraordinary people in most cases. I think it’s just real life, and it’s almost like life’s soap opera, with all the pain, all the joy, all the heartache, all the emotions that a human being has. Country music has a way of doing that in the best way possible.”
Read the full story HERE

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