Alex Massie

In the Country of Country

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Like Norm says, you can't never have too many articles singing the praises of country music. So hats off to Simmy Richman for his excellent piece in the Independent today. He makes many of the essential points, not least the fact that this is universal music, not merely stuff for hillbillies and cowpokes (not that there's anything wrong with hillbillies and cowpokes):

Were I ever to stop and question why this music was having such a profound effect on me, someone born so far from its origins, the answer might have lain exactly in that sense of distance – the space between what you are and who you want to be. Because if country music is anything summarisable, it is the sound of people born far from the bright lights who long to take their place and make their mark on the big city – a situation as understandable to someone from small-town Tennessee as it is to someone from Hendon, north-west London.


Transatlantic Sessions

Most importantly there's no need for you to apologise for liking this stuff. Richman's piece, while admirable, begins with the requisite kidding about liking country music. But there's no need for that. It's not a joke genre, it's just good music. (We're talking about proper country here, obviously, not the Nashville pap.)

Finally, Richman suggests there's not many places you can find country music in the UK. Well, in the age of internet radio that doesn't matter so much (I recommend Boot Liquor) but you can also find plenty of country on BBC Radio Scotland. There's Ricky Ross's Another Country and, every week night, Iain Anderson has two hours of excellent country, folk and blues. Meanwhile, there's the Maverick roots festival in Suffolk in July that looks like something that might have to be attended.

Anyway, here's Nanci Griffith with Sharon White and Ricky Skaggs:

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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