10 Reasons to Love Old Country Music

I cannot tell a lie - I love old country music (and I hate new country music). As the purveyor of a site called Retrospace, it's not exactly shocking to learn that I prefer the older songs. But let me explain and give you 10 good reasons to love old time country...
  1. Willie Nelson claims to have smoked reefer with President Kennedy on the roof of the White House.  I believe him, and that definitely adds a point in country music's favor.  Plus, Willie's Red Headed Stranger is an epic piece of work that I'd stack up against any album from any genre.
  2. The Dukes of Hazzard
  3. Outlaw country in the 1970's was as rebellious as anything rock music.  Waylon Jennings, David Allan Coe, Merle Haggard, and Hank Jr. were drinking, smoking weed, and kicking ass every bit as much as Aerosmith and The Stooges. Sing it with me: "Hank, why do you drink? Why do roll smoke?..." 
  4. If you are a true blue fan of the 1970's as I am, then you can't help but appreciate country music.  The 70's were all about blue collar and the lust for lowbrow.  The Dukes of Hazzard and Hick Flicks like White Lightning, Every Which Way but Loose and Convoy were the bread and butter of the decade.  Truckers were the heroes and rock stars of the decade - and country music went hand in hand with the trucker image.
  5. The 1980's were a continuation of country's golden days: Kenny Rogers, Urban Cowboy, Alabama, The Oak Ridge Boys, Barbara Mandrell, Ronnie Milsap, Randy Travis, George Strait, and best of all.... the theme song to The Fall Guy
  6. If you love rock and pop music from the 70's, you are automatically guilty of loving country music.  Country was officially on its way into the mainstream when the Byrds actually put out a country LP (the unsuccessful Sweethearts of the Rodeo). It wasn't long before Southern Rock was one of the most successful genres on the market.  The Eagles had a definite country & western flair, as did Jimmy Buffett and Skynyrd, and tons of top ten hits like "Let Your Love Flow" and "Nights Are Forever" were unabashedly country sounding.  
  7. Take this job and shove it!
  8. I freaking loved Hee Haw.  Sure, it was possibly the only show stupider than Mama's Family, but that was part of its charm.  Three words: Hee Haw Honeys.
  9. If British people can love country music so can you.  The Hollies recorded "Long Cool Woman", The Beatles did "Act Naturally" and The Stones did "Honky Tonk Woman" - need I say more? (Check out the ad for The British Journal of Country Music below).   
  10. Anyone who's seen Walk the Line can't help but walk away with some respect for Cash's music.  Too often, old country music is stereotyped as "tears in my beer" twanging - this puts an end to those kind of generalizations.
Unfortunately, I can't give the same recommendation for country music of today.  The outlaws are gone, and we're left with a bunch of pop stars who look and sound no different than their pop counterparts.  I think when Garth Brooks and Shania Twain hit the jackpot in the 90's, breaking all kinds of sales records, country music became big business and was as polished and air brushed just as much as any boy band or flavor of the month.

That being said, there's certainly some good country music out there if you look hard enough.  Waylon Jennings' son and Alison Krauss are a couple examples.  Perhaps, there's a good deal out there, but I must admit that I've stopped looking.  Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood have sent me elsewhere. 

Let's just see Kenny Chesney try and write a song like this... ain't gonna happen.

Download "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams, Jr. here


  1. I'm with you on the difference between old and new country.

    Albums like Red-Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson are all time classics. Modern country music, however, I'm not a fan of at all.

  2. You make some very good points on this, Gilligan. Another 70s voice who was more county than anything else was Linda Ronstadt. She topped the charts with songs that were played on rock stations, but so many were as country as anything else.

    I still like Shania! I know it's polished pop, and not Patsy Cline, but....

  3. While recognizing that there is the exception to every rule, I've never been much of a fan of country. I freely admit liking the Byrds and other rock bands that got 'a little bit country'. While not having a clue as to how popular it is, there is a genre called alternative country that I like. Bands like Drive-By Truckers, Uncle Tupelo and Old 97s are somewhere in there.

    I just noticed the new header. Nice.

  4. You hit the jackpot here Gil. And I quote from the Red-Headed Stranger,
    "the yellow-haired lady was buried at sunset,
    The Stranger went free of course,
    for you can't blame a man for killin' a woman who's tryin' to steal your horse."

    I am lovin' it. You won't find Brad Paisley coming up with lyrics like that. My favorite country song of all time may be "Country Boy" by Glen Campbell.

  5. I believe Willie toked up on the roof at the White House while attending a function while Jimmy Carter was prez. He wasn't big enough yet when JFK was prez to be invited to the White House.

  6. I think you're right CLM. My bad.

  7. Indeed. And then some. One more reason? All the space in between LA and NYC is filled with it and always has been (though you might have to fiddle with your digital dial to find the real stuff)