I have not updated this site in a long, long time, and I am sorry about that, and this is not an update but more of an apology. I have been working on my novel to the detriment of this site, which is a bad thing but it’s a really good novel and I hope you like it. This is not about that.
This is kind of a confession.
I stopped listening to country music. I can’t tell you the date when I did that, but I did. Part of this is because I live in New Jersey. This is not an excuse, mind you, but I found out that I liked different kinds of music once I started living up here. I like Fountains of Wayne. I like Mumford & Sons. God help me, I like Coldplay.
There’s nothing wrong with this (well, maybe there is) but liking these other kinds of music left me largely alienated to country radio. It got to the point where I would listen to a horrible Rascal Flatts song, and I’d switch away to XM 28, and I’d stay there for weeks. Why? Because Rascal Flatts is that bad. More to the point, there really wasn’t anything good to counterbalance all the bad stuff. And if I wanted good country music, well, I could buy albums and listen to the good stuff and filter out the Jason Aldeans of this world.
People have been saying this sort of thing about country radio forever, and it’s true, and it gets worse every year. But I was in Texas last week, and listened to a bit of country radio, and I kind of missed it. I wanted to hear a little bit. I wanted to see if it was as bad as I thought it was.
And it was. Country radio stations still play Carrie Underwood, and she is as bad as she ever was, and maybe worse. Country radio stations are still trying to make people forget that Darius Rucker was, is, and always will be Hootie. Country radio stations are still playing idjit songs that are designed to make redneck dipshits feel better about being redneck dipshits.
But this, man. This, I thought, was really good. Lee Brice. “I Drive Your Truck.”
People got their ways of copin / Oh, an’ I got mine.
Three things real quick.
1. I like this because it inverts the tired country music trope about how fun it is to go out in the country and go off-roading. (Brad Paisley did this, too, in “Mud on the Tires,” making it into a romance, but this goes the opposite direction.) The video has the character going out and doing donuts in some field in this rickety old Ford, but it’s therapy, not fun.
2. You can just feel the emotion behind the lyrics. It sneaks up on you a bit, too. There’s some foreshadowing when the first verse talks about dog tags and the Army, and that’s confirmed in the next verse about Momma and gravestones. That amps it up a bit, and then the last verse is just gut-wrenching. (Brice overplays it a bit on the video.)
3. I like that the music is underplayed, a little bit. So much of the really rotten stuff you hear is because the singer doesn’t trust the song and drowns it in cheesy guitar riffs. Here, you get the piano coming in at the quiet moments, and the steel guitar, and it’s effective.
So. Thank you. Thank you, Lee Brice. I don’t care that you wear a backwards snapback hat in the video, or that you mug a little bit too much in the bridge. You have done two important things. You have helped bring back, just a little, the depressing country song. And, even more importantly, you didn’t sell it to Toby Keith. God bless you and I hope you have a long career.