This post originally appeared in BattleRedBlog as a FanPost
In the comments to my first post in this series, JFMC said that this is the time of year that he starts getting into this genre of music. This got me to thinking that Texas Country is not really a genre, but a collection of related genres that also have a geographical relationship, principally Texas but also Oklahoma.
The primary genres that make up Texas Country are: Western Swing, Honky-tonk, and Outlaw Country, along with influences of Rockabilly (Buddy Holly was as much country as he was rock and roll) and Western Music. Collectively, these genres have a radically different sound than the Appalachian influenced music that has dominated mainstream country for much of the last several decades, when mainstream country has been anything other than pop music with country-like themes.
The genres of Western Swing, Honky-tonk, Rockabilly, and Outlaw Country have all been grouped under the umbrella of Ameripolitan Music by Texas Country artist Dale Watson, the “Hardest Working Man In Honky-tonk.” So, for this week’s entry from the playlist, I present “Nashville Rash,” from Watson’s 1995 Album “Cheatin’ Heart Attack.”
The song itself is an example of Honky-tonk music which, as the name suggests, came out of honky-tonks, and is an uptempo dance music, much like Western Swing is. The subject of the song itself laments the increasing influence of pop on country (an influence which has been there since the 60s, but which the Outlaw Movement was able to combat for awhile. This subject is common under the umbrella of Alternative Country, where artists such as Shooter Jennings, Hank Williams III, Jamey Johnson, and many others have produced songs with a similar message.
In “Nashville Rash,” we can already see Watson’s thinking about what he would eventually label as Ameripolitan Music: “You can’t grow when you rip the roots out of the ground.” In describing what Ameripolitan Music is, he says:
Ameripolitan Music is a new music Genre with prominent roots influence. It is broken into four related subcategories: Honky Tonk, Western Swing, Rockabilly and Outlaw. Artists and bands can fall into one or more of these categories.
Musical and lyrical creativity is critical but to be considered Ameripolitan music, it must retain some of these traditional elements as well.
I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink in this post, but very little of it was really about this song. But in this case, the song was a vehicle to talk more about the variety that makes up what we place under the umbrella of Texas Country. I will leave you with two things. First, in order for me to be able to keep track of the songs I have used, I created a new playlist of just those songs, which is here. And since not all of you have Google Play Music All Access, here is a Youtube video of this week’s song: