What happened to my music?

When Elvis was a duck-tailed teenager performing on the back of flat bed trucks and Buddy Holly and the Crickets were still glowing in the gold of Peggy Sue. I was 13 and several pounds lighter.

The only past times for teenagers in the dusty plains of West Texas was picking cotton, stealing hub caps off rich farmers caddies ( remember hub caps?) or singing.  I didn’t think I was cut out to pick cotton in the hot Texas sun and stealing just wasn’t an option if I ever wished to live at home with my Irish dad. Everyone I knew sang.(Duh!)

My best friend was Scott " Mac" Davis, an acne laden boy with three wonderful virtues ( at the time.) He could sing like an angel, pick a well worn guitar and his duck-tailed hair was the owner of a full tube of Brylcream each week. We sat on the back of his rusty old Ford pick-up at the local drive-in and sang. He wrote such classics as "Will You Still Love Me When The Irrigation Pumps Quits" and You Are The Hub Cap Of My Life." I haven’t seen Mac since he took off for California and I headed for Dallas. Mac went on to write songs for Elvis, many other performers.  And he had a fair recording career in his own voice. I sometimes wonder if he still remembers the skinny blonde who sang back up for him on those warm summer nights at the Village Mill in Lubbock, Texas. Naturally, 47 years later, I consider myself a music critic.

When rock and roll did a belly flop in the world of music, I turned to country music for my sanity. It was the closest thing to the real thing at the time.
My burning question is what happen to the music? Did Merle and Loretta get black balled or at 40 did they become unmarketable? I listen to the radio and wonder what is the difference between contemporary and country music today. And will someone please tell me what off-key, sexy, young women have to do with momma, trains and prison? I have blue jeans older than some of these kids.
Some artist have held on to the sound, Alan Jackson, George Strait and Toby Keith do a great job. Faith Hill is beautiful, talented and a darn good performer, so why does she need to market her videos with sexy chiffon and fans?
A no-talent producer’s wife from Canada that needs very talented engineers present to perform, has made a fortune and marketed every note with sex. That’s just isn’t country music, that’s carnival tactics. It has worked for her, I’ll give credit were credit is due. She can’t sing but she’s a master at selling the goods.
I think radio stations should split the country format into two categories. Contemporary country for those misguided individuals who enjoy rock guitars, 20 back up singers and a talented engineer to sweeten the sound. Traditional country stations for the enlightened that still appreciate real singers, steel guitars and a tune you can hum when the music stops.
We are all frustrated singers and critics at heart.  If our showers had microphones and the steamy mirrors were hidden cameras, life as we know it would have ceased long ago. The cold war would have ended much sooner and Fidel Castro would be a resident of Tennessee.  Let me know how you feel about the situation. We could organize a march on Nashville. (If the publisher will pay for my stay at the Opryland Hotel.)

About the Author:
Darlene Mashburn is a reporter and columnist for Tulsa Today.