You're Looking At Country

Trends inevitably reach saturation and become self-parodies of themselves. The current workwear obsession seems to be hastening to that effect. There are lots of great clothes in this stream, but the more one continuously leans in that direction, the more one risks leaning to affectation. The buffalo check explosion of the past few years has thankfully evolved into several different checks and plaids. I've been interested by the hundred or so variations of Red Wings described as must-buys but fatigue is right around the corner. The question hangs in the air: is there a story behind the flannel worth revisiting? Taking a close look at the source material reveals a dreary ash bathed Appalachian environment, hard faced men, women, and children who worked endless hours to fuel the nation. It wasn't all an endless nightmare, or course. But it was a difficult life.

Many easy portraits exist but a recent viewing of A Coal Miner's Daughter is fresh on my mind. Despite its predictable biopic format, country music from the late sixties and seventies still had an authenticity to its ability to tell working class stories. I love pre-Nashville country music. I used to have a massive audio hard on for The Carters. Then a friend introduced me to Gene Autries yodeling cowboy tv series and ever since then I've pretty much religiously avoided post-sixties country. The early guys were something else.

That said I've grown to appreciate some of the more honky-tonk artists like Loretta Lynn who has the kind of textured voice that lends her music authority. The rawness of these stories, and these storytellers, the lure of an untame world is compelling.

The present global economic fever has many creative minds looking back to times when America still built cars that sold, still manufactured, rather than pushed numbers around a computer screen. We're also drawn to examine the very real uncertainty of the times which however different weren't dissimilar. If we scratch the surface the domesticated world of our times is really still wild, unpredictable, and dangerous. Perhaps that awareness will inspire us to take what lessons we can from our past.

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