If I could have a beer with Jesus
Heaven knows I’d sip it nice and slow
I’d try to pick a place that ain’t too crowded
Or gladly go wherever he wants to go
I heard this song on the radio on my way to lunch today, and when I got back to the office the first thing I did was look up the lyrics because I wanted to be sure I’d heard what I thought I’d heard.
Sadly, I was right.
The song is called “Beer with Jesus,” and it serves as proof that while we didn’t have much farther to go, we’ve now reached the bottom of the country music barrel. Country music, the genre that’s supposed to represent the everyman, whose path was blazed by the likes of Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard, the music that BUILT THE HONKY-TONKS OF THE WORLD and made tight-fitting Wranglers and cowboy boots a national phenomenon, is dead. Stick-a-fork-in-it done. Gone. And what’s left over is a bunch of over-produced, under-talented drivel that is so cliché it makes me want to rip out my own hair.
Have Nashville’s songwriters run out of ideas? I mean, it’s like they all gathered in a room and wrote down every word they could imagine that relates to country living. Then they put them in a bag, shook it up, and began writing based on whatever they pulled out.
Look, it's a dog! Better add it to the list!
Then, after they came up with Every Possible Combination of those words, they scratch their heads and said, “Aw, shucks, y’all. These here ideas are purty good. But we’re missing something. Yessir, something is just not right. We gotta figger out the things that are nearest and dearest to a redneck heart.”
And then, from somewhere in the back of the room erupts a victorious cry. “Yeeeeeee-haaaaaaawwww, y’all! I got it!” The voice drops to a whisper. “Beer, and …
For those of us who actually like country music, this trend is maddening. Yeah, yeah, it sells. Throw a pair of boots and a cowboy hat on some young rabble-rouser, give him a shirt with gothic-looking cross decals, toss him a guitar and a song about sweet tea and BOOM! You’ve got yourself a commercial sensation. Bonus points if you can PROVE just how authentically country he is by working the names Johnny Cash and George Jones into the lyrics.
Is it just me? Have I simply reached the age where my ears just can’t take hearing the new stuff that the young whippersnappers are into? Does this mean that next week I’ll be throwing apples at the neighborhood children, demanding that they get off my lawn? Could be, I guess. But I really thing it’s just evidence that (most) commercial music these days is complete and utter crap, created more to make a quick buck than as any kind of valuable artistic expression.
Don’t get me wrong. Not all new music is this way, and even I have to admit to enjoying some of the country-pop that’s come out lately (and if Luke Bryan ever walked into my living room I’d climb that man like a telephone pole). I have nothing against tea or jars, and Lord knows I have a deep affinity for Jesus and even beer. But for the most part, the stuff you hear on the radio is just plain tired.
What say you, country girls and boys?