Music, Outlaw Country, Social Issues

If You Don’t Like Hank Williams… Country Music Hating Bigots

by Derek Pyle Online dating is fraught with unabashedly unaware tools, creepy Nice Guys, and other egregious offenses of personality–and it is no surprise that many of the problem profiles belong to white dudes. I would like to draw attention to another moral infraction, prevalent but hitherto unaddressed, marring the world of online dating. “I like all music. Except country.” Plaguing numerous profiles, this sentence stands for that deplorable bigotry, the close-minded hatred of country music. Yes, you think that country lyrics are riddled with chauvinistic nationalism, and the music’s pop production value reeks of mainstream, unadulterated capitalism. If you also happen to have an expensive liberal arts degree, you also hate country music simply because it’s cool to rag on the rural, working class. You think that songs about hometown families fighting, falling in love, getting drunk, and going fishing are the markers of an uneducated people valuing stupid shit. You don’t have time for that. You dream of changing the world. Well, in the words of Kris Kristofferson: Continue reading

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Music, Outlaw Country

Previously unreleased Johnny Cash, Out Among the Stars

by Derek Pyle

Lately, there’s been a lot of really good Johnny Cash on my Sirius/XM satellite radio, but it took me a few weeks to figure out why: the Man in Black has released a new album. It is a record endowed with a few duds, but some fantastic takes as well.

Like many posthumous releases, Out Among the Stars compiles various hitherto “forgotten” songs, which where recorded in the early 1980s with producer Billy Sherrill. But this is not merely a collection of unwanted B-sides. While featuring overdubbed instrumental parts, the album’s production is spacious and certainly showcases Cash. Chronologically the album stands between Cash’s earlier country success and his later, final music, which was marked by darker themes and grim-sounding vocals. (The most famous cut from this later period is Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt.”) It is a time of searching for Johnny Cash, as the man was grappling with addiction and recovery, and marooned in between periods of public acclaim. Trigger, a reviewer from Saving Country Music, described “the song material on this album [as] somewhat indicative of [Cash] searching for direction. It is sort of the take of two Johnnys—one introspective, dark, and even disturbed at times, and the other the more ‘aw-shucks’ Arkansas boy.” Continue reading

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Kick Ass Classical, Music, Pioneer Valley

Smith’s “Requiem” conjures visions of sin and death

by Derek Pyle

I was in the 5th grade when “28 Days Later” premiered, a hot minute before zombie takeovers became just more hackneyed commercial cheese. Back then, when cinema could still capture this kind of apocalypse in serious form, one scene stuck in my eleven-year-old mind. The film’s protagonist awakens in a hospital bed to find London an abandoned city; he does not know what has happened, and the empty streets leave no indication. It is only when walking into a church that he discovers a lone human message, in black graffiti on the wall: “Repent; the end is extremely fucking nigh.” Continue reading

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