Friday, November 5, 2010

A Bone To Pick With Blake Shelton

It's not an uncommon topic in Country music. Heck, you could say Country music helped perpetuate the image. Marty Stuart sang "Hillbilly Rock." Dwight Yokum sang about "guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music." Go back to the early days of American music in the 1920s and 1930s and you will see that Country music was originally called Hillbilly music. Carrying on the tradition, Blake Shelton's "Hillbilly Bone," brings the old tropes back to life.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Blake Shelton. This song, however, has more to do in my opinion with just being an all-aroung good ol' redneck than being a hillbilly. Perhaps the term "redneck" has been overused in country music lately. Trucks and mud, hollerin' Yeehaw!, grits, and firearms -- check. But is this an original song? Hardly. It starts out with a contrast of "I got a friend in New York City/ He's never heard of Conway Twitty." Hank Williams, Jr. used that already in "A Country Boy Can Survive" -- "I got a friend in New York City/ He never calls me by my name, just Hillbilly."

You might think I'm not a fan of country music, but Blake Shelton's song is an example of everything that's wrong with country music these days. Trace Adkins, who brought us such "gems" as "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," joins Shelton in the chorus of his song, "Hillbilly bone -da-bone-da-bone -bone." Now, Trace Adkins could kick my ass for sure and not raise his boot very high, but I don't think Trace Adkins has put out anything worthy to be called country music since his debut album "Dreamin' Out Loud."

Maybe I'm thinking too much about the poetics of a country song, when most folks want something to raise hell to or crank up on their radio on the way to work. But if I could play the guitar, I think I could write me some Country songs, and maybe do Hillbilly right for a change. But that's just me.

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