Many times you don’t notice something when you’re right in the middle of it.  Who knew back in the 1990′s when everyone was enjoying all those silly line dances that we were actually witnessing the demise of country music?  I sure didn’t, I actually moved to Nashville in 1995 because I wanted to be closer to the music.  Enough time has passed now that I think I can look back and pinpoint some songs and by extension, some artists singers who made modern country music too grating to listen to.


I can’t listen to commercial country radio anymore.  Period.  Sometimes, though, I’ll get trapped somewhere and I can’t avoid it.  Such was the case recently when my wife and I were running errands in her car and she happened to have L.A.’s only country station playing.  We all know the rules, don’t we?  Driver’s choice, lest you lose a finger or, God forbid, a whole hand for making a misguided attempt to change the station.  Anyway, we were cruising along and what I was hearing wasn’t good but it was tolerable, at least it was until the song I hate most in the world played.  What she witnessed next was not as much a mood swing as it was a mood snap.  The driver’s choice quickly and wisely changed.  I’m not sure she recognized the person she’d married at that moment.


The incident got me thinking about a few other songs that I despise and when I took a closer look at them, I decided they were largely responsible for the demise of country music as I once knew it.


#5–Achy Breaky Heart, 1992–No one noticed that this song was the beginning of the end because it came with a popular dance and hairstyle.  One wonders what would have happened if the Oak Ridge Boys hadn’t passed on this song when it was pitched to them first.  I’m thinking it would have been buried deep on one of their forgotten 1990′s albums.  Not only would no one have ever heard it but no one would know what the fuck a mullet is.  I also heard an unsubstantiated rumor that the song had also been offered to Lee Roy Parnell who replied that he “didn’t want to have to sing that fucking song for the next ten years.”  I wonder if Billy Ray Cyrus is thinking the same thing.


#4–How Do I Live, 1997–After having conquered the pop music world by having her songs recorded by everyone from Aerosmith to Ziggy Marley, Diane Warren didn’t have to go down to Nashville and peddle her wares.  But peddle she did and hit the jackpot by getting both Leann Rimes and Trisha Yearwood to release it as a single within a few weeks of each other.  For the record, I think Trisha did the better, countrier version but it still doesn’t make it right.


#3–Honey, I’m Home, 1997–I have to admit I actually like parts of this song, you know, the parts with the
pedal steel in it and the video part where Shania Twain dances around shaking her ass.  The parts that suck are the ones where writer/producer Mutt Lange rehashed Def Leppard’s, Pour Some Sugar On Me.  To me that’s the ultimate slap in the face to country fans.  Did they think we wouldn’t notice or that we’d never heard of Def Leppard?  Maybe they thought they could capitalize on the fact that a huge portion of 90′s country fans had also been 80′s hair band fans.  Either way, I for one, didn’t appreciate Pour Some Honey I’m Home On Me.


#2–She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy, 1999–  I’m not sure whether to blame songwriters Jim Collins and Paul Overstreet or singer Kenny Chesney for this piece of dung.  The two writers probably had one of those writing appointments that Nashville is so famous for.  I picture them sitting around asking each other what the dumbest idea for song they ever had was and this one oozed out as a joke right before 11am cocktails at the Nashville Country Club.  Since Chesney wouldn’t recognize a country song if it walked up and bitch-slapped him across the nuts (like I’d like to do), I’m sure he heard it and thought he had just found “the best song ever!”


#1–My Front Porch Looking In, 2003–This was the song that nearly caused me to go ballistic on an otherwise pleasant West L.A. Saturday afternoon.  I want to know what programmer’s ass this 8-year-old disgrace got pulled out of.  Like Clint Eastwood declaring no one should ever put ketchup on a hot dog, I have to declare that no one should have ever put the line “There’s a carrot top who can barely walk with a sippy cup of milk” in any song that doesn’t either come from a Sesame Street soundtrack or describe what that comedian, Carrot Top might be doing if he had a stroke from overuse of steroids.  Still wouldn’t work as a country song.  Congratulations, Richie McDonald, you and your faux country band Lonestar officially turned country music into an embarrassment.


Some may want to point at a few more like Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood or maybe go back as far as Garth Brooks.  Country music was broken long before Carrie and Taylor.   As for Garth, well, I think he actually helped it more than he hurt it and there actually are a few pop country artists that still carry the torch for traditional country music.  I will discuss these in a future article.