Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fossilized Fud Music: Roy Acuff

As much as I loathe modern country music, I think I could get into some of the older stuff quite easily. Roy Acuff is one of them.

Take his song "The Wabash Cannonball." I heard this a lot when I was a kid. Had no idea what they were singing about; I just liked the sound of the word "Wabash" and that one of the Smoky Mountain Boys could sound like a train whistle.

And to use an over-used phrase, I like the old-timey feel of Acuff's "Lonesome Joe," as it has that Christy Minstrels, real country music feel to it, not the manufactured pseudocrap that passes for country music today.

Like it or not -- and I'm sure not many would like it today -- this kind of music is a huge part of the American musical legacy. Country, and especially southern country, is, in my opinion, the single most significant and original contribution this nation has made to a world of music. I say that because the songs, the tunes, springing from the rural backwoods, speak more of the American experience than any other genre, with perhaps the exception of Black gospel music, of which I'm also a fan.

My only worry with this kind of music is that the messages -- of love, of the gospel of Jesus Christ -- are going to fade so that they're cultural relics of an ancient time with no meaning in today's world. George Orwell, in his novel 1984, fretted that Newspeak would eliminate words from our vocabulary -- but that's not the issue. What is the real issue is that the deep, self-seated meanings of the words and concepts that were once revered and enjoyed fade and are now, for many people, just a cultural thing to enjoy while listening to the music, but to forget once the banjo and fiddle have stopped.

No comments: