Aside from the fans, of course, hardly anyone pays any attention to country music. It’s a shame, because the popular music of rural America has much to tell us about the people who urbanites so often look upon as sub human. The rural man is rightly not know for his ability to express emotions. Think the Marlboro man. He doesn’t say much, and gets by on grunts and tough looks.
How does one explain, then, the emotional content of country music. Hank Williams and those who followed in his path have a romantic style that rivals Keats. Though John Q Country Music Listener might not be able to express his emotions like Hank, he is listening because he can connect with what Williams is singing about.
In the age of social media, when over sharing is encouraged, even the surly rural male can participate in the emotional narrative of Facebook through country music lyrics. Though he might never say explicitly that he is upset about a woman, he can comfortably share some words that express his feelings.
Giving country music serious critical attention is important because it humanizes the listeners. There is much to be learned from the stories of country radio.