And now for your delectation and delight, a country music song.
I am not your perfect host here. I admit to about equal-sized blind spots toward rap on the one hand and contemporary country music on the other. I do like some old-timey country, people like Roy Acuff and Jimmie Rodgers and Jimmy Martin and Mother Maybelle Carter and Bill Monroe and Patsy Cline. But contemporary country strikes me as mainstream pop-rock with a big sign on the door saying WHITE PEOPLE ONLY. I understand that a big part of living music is to define and delimit social groups, but as I've been listening to African-American acts since I discovered a Motown station on the radio in fourth grade, suppressing racial diversity among the musicians I listen to has never been a big concern.
(It has gotten me into trouble a few times. Back when I was in high school I remember walking into an all-black bar on North Avenue with a few friends, rationalizing that it was a liberal era, and we were all citizens, and if black people had a right to go anywhere they wanted to in public then we did too. I swear, before the bravest of my friends reached the end of bar nearest the door, the loud hubbub subsided to a hush, the music got turned off, and a deep, booming voice from somewhere back in the dark reaches of the bar said, "Boy, you got till I count to ten to get your white ass outta here." The last thing I personally heard was "Three....")
Thus I find myself in no position to judge whether this is a good country music song or not. Maybe some contemporary country aficionados will be so good as to step in and school us. I had never heard of the singer before John sent me this link.
I do fancy I can interpret lyric poetry at least competently, and it seems like the video producer's got the song a little wrong—it's not about colorizing old black-and-white photographs (or the music video itself); rather, the line "you shoulda seen it in color" is another way of saying "imagine what it was like in real life."
But, like I say, I don't know the codes.
(Thanks to John Camp)
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by JW: "Jamey Johnson's double album The Guitar Song is a remarkable country album which bears more resemblance to the good old days of Waylon, Willie, and Cash than any of the new 'country' out there. Truly one of the great acts out there, and from what I have heard, he puts on a superb live show. I was born about 15 years too late to see Waylon live in his prime, but I have seen Willie three times and hope to see Jamey soon. Can't stand the crap that passes as country these days, but there is some hope out there!"
Featured Comment by Henk Coetzee: "Your description of walking into the 'wrong' bar took me back to my student days. My ideas, ideals and activities during the dark days of the '80s in South Africa took me into what were at the time townships and homelands. My friends and I listened to a lot of music which certainly wasn't country. A few like black punk, township jive and even some jazz are good, if quite disparate examples. A lot of the great South African musicians like Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba were living in exile at the time. Imagine our surprise arriving in Gazankulu, a 'homeland' in the north-eastern part of South Africa and finding that country music was really big here. It's still surprisingly popular in Swaziland."
Mike replies: Stan B. sent me an astonishing set of links the other day that relates to that: Seems there was a folk singer-songwriter in Detroit who put out a couple of albums in the 1970s, one called "Cold Fact." They sank like stones in the U.S., so he quit music and became a day laborer for 30 years. Unbeknownst to him, his albums became legendary in South Africa, anthems of the anti-apartheid movement. (Maybe you've heard of him, Henk—Sixto Rodriguez.) But in South Africa it was accepted as fact that he was dead.
Two South African journalists realized there were many conflicting stories about how he died, so they decided to find out the the truth:
After years of searching, the two journalists finally got in touch with the producer of Cold Fact.
"They call him and they are full of questions," says Bendjelloul. "They ask, 'How was the album made? And the most important thing: How did he die?' And he says, 'No, I saw Rodriguez this morning. He is living down the street!'"
There's a movie about it that's just out in the U.K. called Searching for Sugarman that I gotta see, somehow. Here's the trailer.
Featured Comment by gene lowinger: "I played fiddle with Bill Monroe in the '60s and have been playing bluegrass music for more than 50 years. Country music as you define it (Acuff, Rogers, Carter family, etc....) died when the big studios built new sound stages in Nashville back in the '60s. Since then the music that comes out of Nashville is just trashy songs about male hunks making up to sassy girls. That's what the folks who listen want to fantasize about themselves."