About High Art And Pickup Trucks
Culture and the arts are ever-changing. Reactionary. A seesaw effect might be a decent way to imagine it. You have the Age of Enlightenment, where reason and intellect prevailed in novels, music, and theater. Then came Romanticism, which basically went in the other direction. All heart. Then Realism, just tell it how it is, and finally Modern and Postmodern. The last two are definite punches back at Realism, more flailing about like two schoolgirls than a sweet science.
Ultimately this is a good thing, though. The world doesn’t want the same thing over and over. Things get stale. The canvas runs out of room.
In our times, we’ve got popular music and movies, TV, a litany of things folks in the olden days didn’t have—so, we have to adjust our definitions a little. Art isn’t the only thing that changes. The world does to.
But hasn’t the world always changed? The answer is yes. I don’t feel I’m going out on a far-flung limb on that one.
I’ve got a theory on how these movements start. One guy or gal does something different, and people like it. People buy the crap out of it. Enter years of emulators, adulterers, copycats, ladies and gents trying to ride that gravy train.
Pulling out the microscope for a second. Let’s talk country music. I know, most people wouldn’t call it high art. Right now, I’d agree with most people. With the exception of some phenomenal writers, country isn’t country. The songs that stick nowadays are very low intelligence, talking about frigging pickups and girls in cut-offs and boots and, oh yeah, beer with your homies on Saturday night. It’s all good, bro…
No bro. No it’s not.
Aren’t people sick of this? Me and my friends call it dude-bro country. Because, well, it should be obvious.
Somebody’s already said what I’ve said better than I could, and he used their own art form to do it. Recommendation time. Give Wade Bowen a listen. He’s got some great songs, and, though he’s guilty of playing some dude-bro stuff himself, there’s a tune called Songs About Trucks that puts a freaking bow on what I’m trying to say. When I saw the title I rolled my eyes, put the head in hands, said to myself, “they’re not even trying to hide it anymore.” Alas, like most good things, I was surprised by this song. The first line is, “Whatever happened to a feeling bad song? Lost the best damn woman that you ever had song?”
Besides just being great lines, he’s pointing out that country is in need of an all-out gear shift back to what it was intended to be. Music about getting your heart destroyed, leaving you broke spiritually and financially. Your only recourse is to strum a guitar and sing to nobody whilst getting plowed on grain alcohol. That is, until someone pays you a billion dollars to sing said sad song into a microphone. Thanks Wade. You’ve restored my faith to some degree. Maybe I’m an old philistine that just likes old things. Then again, some old things are just better.
Cheers. I’m gonna go cry into my whisky. See you after.