Thursday, January 04, 2007

Country music in the US.

When I was a kid in Armenia, 7 pm was a special hour. This is when my family would tune in to the 'Voice of America' on frequency 31 on our short wave radio. The signal was weak, and it would drift on the dial as the Soviets tried to jam it. So one had to keep an eye on it, and adjust it accordingly. One had to be careful also of the neighbors not being able to hear what were you up to. We lived in a 4 story Khruschev apartment building which had bad sound insulation. Most of the residents were Akhpars (repatriated Armenians from Diaspora) so there was less of a danger of being reported to the authorities as I suspect most of them listened to VOA as well. And I am sure the authorities knew exactly what was going on but chose to turn a blind eye as the Akhpars were not very politically influential as they kept their opinions among themselves - they did not trust the native Armenians very much.

One of the best moments were the weekly music programs. And sometimes they would play this strange music called 'country music'. I didn't understand much what it was about and I didn't know who listened to it. To me it was just another aspect of the American culture that we were prohibited to know.

Two decades later I found myself in the middle of American heartland. One of my neighbors had a black matte Chevy Blazer with a decal that read 'REDNECK' and there was a for sale sign on the window for $1000.00. It would take me a few months to get to know what America was all about and what redneck meant. But my redneck neighbor was cool as were the others.

The music of choice for the heartland is country music. When you drive in the interstate highways, once you are out of the metropolitan areas, you have few choices on your FM radio. You will get a couple of religious channels with either preaching of the Bible or Christian rock. Or you can tune in to a country music channel. I usually tune in to the country music channel.

The Economist has an article titled 'Middle America's soul' that attempts to explain what country music is about. Most of it is true - there is not a lot of cursing, and most of the songs are about broken hearts, sorrow, drinking, and some are about faith. And they are probably right - the audience is the mostly non-coastal population that the politicians refer to as 'conservative'. I don't know if I fit in this demographics very well. I am somewhat of a Libertarian opposed to big government and for open trade and less military adventures abroad. But I am for welfare state (though not the way of giving fish but teaching how to fish), secular governance and racial equality.

1 comment:

Haik said...

I am still enjoying the last issue of The Economist. It has nice Christmas Specials - about Cured Meat, The Art of Conversation, Tabloid Press, Holy Places, Jinns, Pashtunwali, Country music and some more that I still didnt manage to deep my teath in.. Actually I was reading the Coutry Music article today on my way to work. The article reminded me of my redneck neighbours. Actually I found them very helpful and fullhearted. I knew that anytime I knock at their doors for help which i did once they would help me. They are nice if you accept and as the article states don't look down on them. They are definitly better than the Yappies. At least they know who they are and dont pretend to be someone else.
There is also an article about Russian Airports which I will read when I am done with the Jinns.