In the seventh grade I listened to any music I could get my hands on. Mind you this was limited in the pre-Internet Upper Michigan. I was pretty much confined to Top 40 radio (Shadoe Stevens has a special place in my heart) and music television. But I absorbed all I could. I watched VH1, BET, MTV, and CMT for hours. HOURS. I like most kinds of music so this is no stretch, but I am not known to like country music. I cringe when it finds its way onto my car radio. I just do not like country music on the whole. I do not like it in a train, I do not like it on a plane. I do not like it. What annoys me the most is the really "American" country music. You know, Toby Keith (I'd like to see you try and put a boot up someone's ass, dude) and Kenny Chesney stuff. I hate that they are proud of their machismo and ignorance. (I make the same argument about rap music and misogyny.) But I went through a phase where I watched CMT all the time. Luckily every now and then there was bluegrass, folk or alt country videos. These were sounds under the country umbrella that I could get behind. I find these sub-genres more of an art form than others. Here are three artists that I really, very much enjoy.
Kathleen Edwards, "Six O'Clock News" 2003
Kathleen Edwards, "Back To Me" 2005
Gillian Welch, "Elvis Presley Blues" 2001
Alison Krauss and Union Station, "Let Me Touch You For Awhile" 2001
If you like these I suggest you check out the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou? if you haven't already done so. Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch are on the soundtrack. I find the craftsmanship in the music just remarkable. The story telling in folk and bluegrass is unlike any other kind of lyrical music. It calms me and lets my mind wander to a better, more peaceful place. It's wonderful.