And old time country wasn't as good as folks want to remember. For every Hag, Cash, Willie Nelson, and Waylon there are tons of folks who just whined into a mic and had a boom-chicka-boom sound behind them. Those folks are forgotten while the true stars' music continues to shine. I grew up listening to that old style Country, and it was awful. I still like the Hag, and Johnny Cash and the others mentioned. But there's a whole bunch of stars from the 60's, 70's and early 80's of Country that I'll be just fine if I never hear their music again.
In an interview with George Jones on this very topic, Mr. Jones said that there has ALWAYS been a lot of poor music written and performed. In the old days when folks didn't have as much money to spend on music, those weaker songs were thrown in the trash where they belonged and only the creme of the crop made it to albums. He said this was true of himself, and also most of the "stars" of yesteryear. Nowadays, folks are willing to spend the money to buy an album with only one or two good songs on it so they pump out albums with 80% garbage. It's not that there's more garbage now than there was then, it's that people are more willing to pay for garbage.
It wasn't Garth Brooks that killed old time country. If it didn't sell, it wouldn't be produced.
As far as the Americana/Alt Country comment by Mixter102 - I am in complete agreement. That sound is still out there. I like a band from Ohio called Hillbilly Idol. Their motto is "It isn't your grandfather's Country, but he'd probably approve." They are so interested in maintaining a traditional country sound that they all play instruments from the 1950s and to a fair degree use mics and amps from that era when in the studio. And Hillbilly Idol isn't the only ones. CD Baby is replete with good "old country" bands. Truckstop Troubadours,
Shania. Pfffffffft. Nice to look at anyway.
Randy Travis is still making great music. He's got an overt Christian theme to a lot of his music now, but that's nothing unusual for Country. He's cut a few albums that are straight Christian music, and then a few albums that are Country but are thematically consistant with a Christian belief. Some excellent recent tunes from Randy Travis are "Right on Time", "Three Wooden Crosses" (which won CMA song of the year a few years ago), and "Running Blind." I highly recommend his album "Passing Through." It doesn't get airtime because of the theme of the music, I expect, but the music itself is top notch.
Alan Jackson. George Straight. A couple more folks you'd be hard-pressed to say don't perform music in the tradition of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash and George Jones and the superstars of "old" Country.
If you want a recent star that's dead-ahead-straight-on-Country with no surprises and excellent delivery, check out Josh Turner. Listen to him and tell me old time Country is dead.
Garth Brooks is just Garth Brooks. He is to Country what G'n'R is to rock. Big stadium shows, a few honestly good songs and a lot of songs that just sound like they ought to be good but aren't really, and very good at marketing and merchandising. Nothing wrong with good showmanship. But from my perspective, that's what Garth brought to Country. Showmanship. Exquisitly planned and perfectly executed showmanship designed to elicit excitement. Good for him for making a danged good living at something he can do well. That, and "I've Got Friends In Low Places" is a great song.
Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude