What has happened to the country music industry and the Republican Party? In the last several years they have both progressively transformed and are playing different tunes. Some of us hardly recognize the music in their new songs.
It’s called “the numbers game”. Both modern Country music singers and modern Republican politicians have decided that for years, Pop Music and the Democrats have attracted the ears of more of the listening public. They each wanted to be the majority force in their respective arts.
First, a little about my own personal background. I grew up admiring the songs of the old traditional country singers. I loved singing “Walking the floor over you” with Ernest Tubb. I wanted to be six days on the road with Dave Dudley and I wanted to go home to Detroit City with Bobby Bare. Often, would I fall to pieces with Patsy Cline and break my humpty dumpty heart that Hank Thompson said I had.
For a while I was addicted to candy kisses because of George Morgan. As a youngster I got heartaches by the number whenever I listened to Ray Price, so I took Jim Reeves’ advice and said, “He’ll have to go.” I would get real silly every time I listened to Tex Ritter sing “Rye Whiskey” and I couldn’t walk the line with Johnny Cash. My mother would tell me to act naturally like Buck Owens. Upon hearing her say things like this, I would get real still like Bill Anderson and start singing the blues with Marty Robbins.
Near the end of one school year, I tried to approach a young classmate and tell her “I can’t stop loving you” as Don Gibson would have wooed her. But I suspected I would hear her reply, “If you’ve got the money honey, I’ve got the time,” in the sassy way that Lefty Frizzell would have uttered that line. When we went into the summer months, I realized she didn’t want my love in the summertime, as Roger Miller kept advising me. So I just put the needle on the record player and kept playing “I’m Movin’ On” by Hank Snow.
I’m saying it never materialized and I couldn’t send her a big bouquet of roses as Eddy Arnold would have done. As I remember her, and as Merle Travis so skillfully described, she was so round, so firm, so fully packed. I realized then, with Kitty Wells, it wasn’t God who made honky tonk angels. Since we never went together; she never flirted around with other guys while going with me, so I didn’t get a chance to blurt out that line “your cheatin’ heart” as only Hank Williams could have articulated it.
That summer, I wanted to move to Chattanooga and be a shoe shine boy like the one Red Foley sang about in his song. While listening to Pee Wee King, my mind would drift away to Tennessee where I could picture the girl and I doing the Tennessee Waltz. (I pictured us doing other things in Tennessee, but that’s embarrassing to talk about here—kissing is a touchy subject with some). Heck, I even thought about going down to the Wabash River and start looking for Roy Acuff’s Wabash Canonball!
To this day, I still feel like eating juicy steaks each time I remember listening to Johnny Bond sing “Cimarron”.
Most current “new country” music listeners probably have not heard most of these songs or the traditional country and honky tonk artists who boldly sung them. Most Republicans of today, probably don’t understand the principles that the Republican party stood for in the 50’s and the 60’s, because just as the country music industry has done with pop music, the Republicans have crossed over to the Democratic Party to get their hit songs.
Today’s new country singers sound an awful lot like pop-rock singers and today’s Republican politicians sound a lot like Democrats. But why? Could it be that pop music and the Democrats appeal to more people with their luring tunes, so there are very few traditional honky tonk Republicans left on the political scene, just as there are very few traditional and honky tonk country singers on the music scene.
Borrowing some song titles from my honky tonk hero Hank Williams, a new Republican is saying, “Move it on over old republican and change what looks like your cold, cold heart.” Country kicked out “Western” (sorry Marty Robbins) the same way Republicans kicked out conservatives. “We are all ‘compassionate’ conservatives now (or simply moderates).
“The people want to hear the soft sell popular music, so start singing music like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain or you are not even going to make the charts.”
So competing with pop-rock and the Democrats, we now have country-pop music and a Republicratic or Demopublican Party (as my philosophical hero Robert J. Ringer calls them). Others may bury their heads in the sand in denial, but to pop-rock and the Democrats, I say with Hank Williams, “You win again!”
I just realized
now that it was the little girl’s red hair
that attracted me and I married a redhead,
so I ain’t got the lovesick blues
no more. But with politics, I’m so lonesome
I could cry!
--Kenneth J. Wolf #69 (09/02/00)
Look at the 30 song titles listed in this letter
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