"Country Western" Wha?
In the year nineteen hundred and sixty-two, a young fella by the name of Ray Charles Robinson put out a two-part record entitled Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Within three months it had sold over half a million copies; it has since gone on to be regarded as one of the most significant recordings in American music history.
You may have heard of the song “I Can’t Stop Loving You” which first appeared on this album. Great, ain’t it?
The Inky Jukebox draws your attention to this because every now and then someone (usually in an attempt to indicate his or her disapproval of the genre) refers to the music that comes out of Nashville as “country western.” The last time this term was remotely relevant was probably 1962. By the 1970s it had already become passé and the catch-all phrase “country music” took over as the term that encompasses the wide range of sub-genres collectively known as “country.”
Certainly, this term is insufficient and is as likely to refer to mainstream pop as it is to rockabilly, bluegrass, and honky-tonk. The only people who should be able to use the term “country western” without irony are those artists who were Opry members back in 1962. For everyone else, it makes you sound like a tourist from one of those nations where, inexplicably, it is still au fait to say it (England and Japan, I’m talking about you).
Still, The Inky Jukebox can’t help thinking that English friends suspect the genre is populated by guys and gals dressed in fringed shirts, rhinestones and ten gallon hats singing about tractors and stomping their feet to fiddles while plunking away at washboards. It ain’t so.
The next time someone you know calls what you love “country western music,” The Inky Jukebox suggests turning the other cheek and humming a few bars of “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”
Then giving them the middle finger.
That’s What’d I Say.