Western swing band, Asleep at the Wheel, has quite the outspoken front man in Ray Benson. The legendary lead recently told the Lowell Sun in Massachusetts how he feels about modern country — and he held nothing back.
You can relate to picking up girls, drinking beer and hot pants. The thematic stuff is what bothers me. I don’t like Luke Bryan and those guys, because there’s no originality. Every song follows pretty much the same chord progression. That’s not a bad thing, in and of itself.
Benson then compared modern country artists to the genre’s icons, pointing out the distinct sounds of some of the greats.
Hank Williams used the same four chords, but there’s no melodic integrity and the words are just silly. You listen to Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline or Willie Nelson. None sound like the other. It’s individuality at its best. Patsy Cline was a pop singer, but with country sensibilities.
Benson wasn’t all negativity when he confronted the topic of today’s genre, and recognized that there are artists whom he feels are making commendable country music.
Let me qualify this by saying there’s great country music made today by lots of people, it’s just not getting on mainstream radio.
These statements come only weeks after Merle Haggard was quoted on Infoforum.com stating:
I can’t tell what they’re doing. They’re talking about screwing on a pickup tailgate and things of that nature. I don’t find no substance. I don’t find anything you can whistle and nobody even attempts to write a melody. It’s more of that kids stuff. It’s hot right now, but I’ll tell you what, it’s cooling off.
What do you think of Benson’s and Haggard’s statements regarding today’s country music? Let us know by leaving a (likely colorful) comment below.