History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Monday, March 9, 2015

Country music of today reflects changed world

I dedicate my song "Country Lovin' " to Cyrus MN.
Say "country music" and certain images arise in your mind. Shall we quickly add "certain sounds" too. I think of Buck Owens on "Hee Haw." Buck was a terrific musician who seemed to be sadly cheapened by that TV show. The show connected with long-held images and sounds of the country genre. Let's put all that in a time capsule. It's definitely a part of Americana. But as with all institutions throughout the American fabric, it has been subjected to vast change. Technology is of course the catalyst. Rural electrification was an example of tech impact. I have always heard this was miraculously transformative. We can only imagine.
Country music used to reflect a sort of self-pity among people living in non-metropolitan regions. They lacked amenities. They promoted music that sought to defy that handicap. It was a rough-hewn music that sort of proclaimed "we like it here," like that sign that was so visible in the early years of the Metrodome in Minneapolis, remember? "We like it here." I remember listening to an interview with Bill James and he brought it up. James is the baseball statistical guru. James said of that sign that it projected a sort of defensiveness. It was like we were saying "we don't care what everyone else thinks," James said.
Being distanced from the cultural mainstream was long an underpinning of the art form known as "country music." The TV show "Hee Haw" made a pathetic stereotype of that. It had these little segments where the name of some small town would be recited, then we'd hear "salute." The most telling part of that segment was the canned laughter that followed. Just imagine, citing the name of some small (read hayseed) town as if it might actually be special.
I remember a display of area community ("small town") newspapers at the St. Cloud State U library. The name of each paper was followed by an exclamation point. The thrust was the same as for that "Hee Haw" segment. "Just imagine, these towns thinking they're so special."
The residents of these towns, i.e. the whole broad swath of middle America, would shrug their shoulders at this. They might laugh along. Today you would never see those exclamation points. Young people today would wrinkle their foreheads at those exclamation points. "What's that all about?"
I remember an article in the Minneapolis newspaper covering something in the St. Cloud area. The article's writer took sort of a subtle potshot at the area's residents. This was by suggesting that those residents considered St. Cloud the "big city." The quote marks for "big city" said a lot. "Ah, those rubes who might consider St. Cloud to be a 'big city.' " Well, St. Cloud really is a big city.
Fact is, the old dichotomy of big city vs. rural town has broken down in a number of ways. Technology advancement is the big reason. It predates the Internet. Technology has steadily erased the disadvantages we have traditionally associated with living in rural areas. Cars have improved to where a trip of an hour or two is not at all daunting - it can be done for a mere shopping trip. Alexandria was not such a huge shopping lure for Morrissites when I was a kid. A trip out to the Pomme de Terre Lake chain might be considered major. You'd fear a flat tire.
There are no truly "remote" places anymore. Manhattan of New York City is no longer the highly privileged enclave for culture. You can get virtually the same access to culture and the arts from anywhere in America - from the vast openness of Montana if you'd like. And of course it's a huge blessing. It has changed the nature of so-called "country music."
The term "country" will always be with us. It will just have different nuances. It will be about the universal frustrations and aspirations we bathe in, whether in the small town or big city.
I wrote a song called "Country Lovin' " back in the early 1980s. I wrote it when the small family farm was still viable. That model would be assailed in the 1980s. Our society went through some spasms. There were vigorous outbursts of anger. The emotions got us nowhere. They never do. In the end we all move on, as we have to. We're left with memories.
Farming has become corporate whether we like it or not. Rural America has moved on. The mom and pop main street business has faded at the same time. We're told that we're all rewarded with "efficiency." No one can argue re. that outcome.
We used to go to church on Sunday and see all the men dressed in suits and ties. If you didn't, you might get whispered about. Today the church has to be thankful for everyone who comes in the door.
I write in my song about how "Dad's gettin' old and wants me on the farm." Those are dated lyrics from 35 years ago.
Consider my song sort of a museum piece. At any rate I'm proud of it. I had it put online just recently. I dedicate the song to Cyrus MN. Click on the link below to give a listen, from YouTube - thanks.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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