I tuned into an Itunes radio station this morning. It promised “Americana” music. What I got was what I consider crappy New Folk. I can’t explain the boundaries between quality old country, mountain music, bluegrass, and tra la la crappy new folk. Here are some turn-offs:
-Showboating as filler in a song with one verse with four riffs played repeatedly for six minutes. At least with punk when it’s a ninety second song it’s a ninety second song!
-Songs written in tribute to Starbucks customers or especially with them in mind.
-Songs that repeat I…E…I…E…I…E…I…E…I…E…I…E…I until I can’t remember how the song started have no idea where it’s going and don’t care so long as I can reach the off button before it finally ends.
I could publish my list of musicians that fall into this camp but then I’d finally alienate most all my friends and be found out for the musical snob I am.
I have a photo book by Henry Horenstein called Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Music 1972-1981. Though there are some new folkers in it I have to say it captures what’s good about Americana to me. The ultimate irony is that while I love heart-break songs and tragic liquor soaked ditties I’m constantly applying them to something else, demythologizing them, looking for the hard lessons and morality plays. I feel none of the compulsion for drink that the songs imply. As a musician I’d be a terrible booze seller. That’s the real heart of Americana I fear—another round, but I prefer to keep that truth at arms reach.