Saturday, October 18, 2014

Is It Rock & Roll Or Country?

I never liked country music until I discovered it had a rock & roll side.

The thing is, many country tunes are the old fashioned stuff that is about as far from rock and roll as you can get (like George Jones or Tammy Wynette). All due respect to them, but I don't much like that kind of music, and for many years, I ignored anything associated with 'country' music.

However, a lot of so-called country music is really rock & roll and rockabilly in disguise – just great rock & roll that is labeled 'country'.

Our friend, veteran and talented video producer Bigg, recently posted in the Vanderbilly.com Video Vault, an excellent video lesson of a country song, the Brooks and Dunn tune 'Brand New Man'. In the comments, another prolific and highly respected video guy, Tugwell, said:

"Garry you've made me change my thinking on music, there really are some good country tunes out there and need to be checked out."

It was a bit of a revelation for me some years ago when I heard a few of those songs and realized that although they were labeled as country, they're really rock or rock & roll. It helped me branch out in my musical tastes and led me to discover new artists I would otherwise not have paid attention to - like Brooks and Dunn, the Pirates of the Mississippi, and Marty Stuart.

Check out the links below. They are for the most part, 'country' bands playing 'country' songs that are really rock and roll (or at least have elements of R 'n' R and rockabilly).

Honky Tonk Blues – Pirates of the Mississippi (yeah, this stompin' tune was written by the King of Country music – the great Hank Williams, Sr.)

Tempted – Marty Stuart (Marty and his band the Fabulous Superlatives is a great band no matter what they play. The lead guitarist, Kenny Vaughan is phenomenal).

Say You Love Me – Rodney Crowell. The 'Houston Kid', former son-in-law of the great Johnny Cash can rock out with the best of them. 

Somebody Like You – Keith Urban. An Australian kid grew up loving American country music. Funny thing is he can play rock as well as country.

Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine – Kentucky Headhunters. These guys were labeled country, but they were stomping rockers.

Six Days on the Road – Sawyer Brown. A truck driving song by Muscle Shoals Sound Studio songwriter Carl Montgomery turned into a stomping rocker by Sawyer Brown.

Fast As You - Dwight Yoakam. Dwight, the champion of the Bakersfield sound, proved there was a lot of rock and roll in Bakersfield as well as country.

What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do - Jeff Bridges. From the film 'Crazy Heart', starring Bridges as a washed up country singer, Jeff recorded this rocking country tune.

Money Can't By Love - Kyle Bennett Band. Texas style country and rock. These guys prove that country and rock can be one and the same.

Nobody's Girl - Reckless Kelly. Another Americana/Texas Country band that plays music that is more rock than country.

On the Road - Lee Roy Parnell. A country singer/performer for sure, but this guy plays electric slide guitar on a Fender Strat with the best of them.


Larry Manch is an author, teacher, guitar player, freelance writer, and columnist. His books include: 'The Toughest Hundred Dollars & Other Rock & Roll Stories', 'A Sports Junkie', 'The Avery Appointment', 'Between the Fuzzy Parts'.

He also writes about baseball for Climbing Tal's Hill, food and travel on Miles & Meals, and music/guitars on The Backbeat.

He lives in Central Texas with his wife and family.

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