February 05, 2005

Musical heresy?

Some people say things that you just know aren’t right, you know it so deep in your bones that it could be part of your DNA — but you’d also be very hard-pressed to say just exactly why it’s wrong.

Case in point comes from the indisputably all-American genre of country music, in a passing remark within a longer story about the Muzik Mafia.

This is the Nashville-based group of friends who started out just wanting to hang out together and play music. They’re now in the running for best country performance by a duo or group, for Horse of a Different Color, and singer Gretchen Wilson is nominated for best new artist, best female country vocal performance, best country song for “Redneck Woman.” In all, they account for six nominations at the February 13 Grammy awards.

Big? You bet they’re big. Country Music Television has been running a 6-part weekly series on this group, and will repeat those episodes beginning February 22.

So where’s the musical heresy in all this? Muzik Mafia cofounder Big Kenny Alphin takes aim at the people who say he and the others are introducing rap music into country, as if it’s something new.

"What was Charlie Daniels doing in `The Devil Went Down to Georgia?' This stuff has been around forever."

Part of me wants to scream out loud, Charlie Daniels is NOT a rapper. And the other part of me says, now how can I show he isn’t?

I mean, what the hell is music, if it’s not fluid, constantly reinventing itself and finding new audiences?

Bob Dylan started out as a breakout artist from essentially a splinter genre called Folk — a type of music which gave us plenty of great lyrics and a lot of bad vocalists. But by the time Ian and Sylvia Tyson and Judy Collins and a few others gave us listenability again, Folk had morphed into Country and then back out again. And Dylan, acoustic to electric to transcendental, keeps plugging away now in the start of his fifth decade of road tours.

Zimmy’s going back on the road next month — and with him will be Merle Haggard and the Strangers, and Amos Lee.

Maybe not rappers. At least not when you think of Merle Haggard. But now thanks to the Muzik Mafia, I’m not sure I can ever quite think the same way about Dylan’s twin masterpieces, “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Posted by Weaselteeth at 09:40 AM