Country music, formerly known (and still sometimes referred to in the “hills”) as “Country & Western,” originated from the American Southern folk music. One song may feature only a fiddle, only a guitar, or when things really got wild, they would use both a guitar and a fiddle. Later incarnations had people playing jugs, saws, or any other tool that can be found in a barn. Today’s country music uses electric guitars, synthesizers, and all the various digital effects that one normally found with other pop-like genres.
Fans of country music largely come from rural areas of the U.S., although there is a growing contingent of fans in urban areas. Americans typically have a love/hate relationship with country music – that is, people either love it or hate it. Those that hate it usually associate country music with Nascar racing, wrestling, moonshine, or nervous bow-legged sheep in the barn. Many country songs lend themselves to these “chicken-fried” topics.
For example, there is a country artist named Junior Brown whose lyrics read, “If you think that I want trouble, then you’re crazy in the head, because you’re runnin’ from the po-lice, and my wife thinks you’re dead.” Many country songs will harp on this “woe is me” theme like the countless tunes about grandmothers in jail or a sister’s cousin who is also the mother of the aforementioned sister.
Modern incarnations of country music are virtually indistinguishable from pop-music. These are commonly called “crossover” tunes, and they are played on both pop stations and country stations. This is much to the chagrin of traditional country music fans, who are very territorial and don’t appreciate it when innovative artists break out of the stereotypical “folksy” style.
However controversial, the new interpretations of this strong musical tradition have attracted a new class of country music fans that are helping to make the genre more and more popular with each ensuing year.