It’s kind of a tradition for us to load up the iPod with Tony Kornheiser Show podcasts when we set out for a long drive in the car, and that’s what we did when we traveled to Columbus last weekend. One of the best bits we heard from those shows was a critique of whatever country music award show had been on TV the Sunday night prior.
TK had a lot to say about the individual performances but he made one point that I was especially interested in — country music doesn’t exist anymore. What’s taken its place is just more pop music, perhaps with a little twang thrown in to make it seem more authentic.
Later in the same show, Tony read an email from a listener who said the country music that Tony knew actually does exist — except that it’s now alt-country and it doesn’t get a whole lot of attention from the much larger mainstream country industry types, musicians and fans.
Now I’ve been aware of this for a long time, and bands or musicians like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, the Old 97s, Ryan Adams and, yep, Wilco have been on heavy rotation in my iPod for years. But this listener mentioned a guy I hadn’t heard of, and because Kornheiser’s sense of humor is what it is, a song that I had to get immediately.
And so, boys and girls, meet Hayes Carll. And although I don’t think this applies to anyone who visits here regularly, be aware that those who might not have a sense of humor about religious matters could have some difficulty with this.
We were taken immediately by the 30-second snippet we heard on iTunes, and I grabbed the album Trouble In Mind when we got home. I couldn’t stop listening for a day or two. And that’s the cool part — It’s a great record all the way through. Funny, honest and plenty of actual country-slash-Texas twang. This is what country music is supposed to be, and if you’re looking in the right places, it’s still out there — if you take the time to look.