Tag Archives: Hernan Cortes

Country Music Reincarnated

1 Oct

The Highwaymen came up on my iPod. That was an 80s country super group consisting of Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. In the 80s, each of them were legends. Now, they are icons. When they first recorded together, there wasn’t a name for the group. Then, “The Highwayman“, one of their first songs, went to Number One.The Highwaymen

That was the song that came up on my iPod. I hadn’t heard it in a while, but the words were still familiar enough for me to remember. As the song played and I sang along, I began to think about its subject matter – reincarnation. Then, I realized that there was once another hit country song about a reincarnation-like theme. That was “El Paso City” by Marty Robbins. It went to Number One in the 70s.El Paso City

These were two songs by major artists that tackled a controversial subject matter. Did the listeners who turned them into hits realize what they were about? If yes, then did they even care? These questions went through my mind along with another one. Would these songs make it to the radio in today’s market?

For a couple of reasons, I think the answer is no.

In the past decade, mainstream country music has attached itself to right-wing conservatism. That means that a great deal of its target audience is of the Christian faith, and, obviously, reincarnation does not fit within that belief. However, I would think that Christians also listened to country music in the 70s and 80s and probably bought the records by The Highwaymen and Marty Robbins. What is different now? Has there been an awakening of religion in the past decade? Were country music listeners in the 70s and 80s less religious than today? No matter the answers, country labels are scared to test the waters.

There is another reason these songs would not make it on today’s radio. They are not about pickup trucks; John Deere tractors; girls in sundresses; drinking beer on a back road; or anything else that is stereotypically country or southern. Obviously, these songs sell, but they all sound the same and are sung by people who sound just as similar. By the way, they kind of look alike, too.

The older songs are about deep, if controversial, subjects written by talented tunesmiths who were able to take such a subject and make an entertaining song that is also thought-provoking. They were also sung by talented artists who did not have to cover themselves in pyrotechnics and voice enhancements. Marty Robbins and The Highwaymen may not have all been great singers, but they were great artists.

Today, labels are afraid to push someone who does not fit the formula of looks and sound that form a cookie cutter industry. If that had been the case in the past decades, then Marty Robbins, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash would have never gotten into the front door. Now that I write that, they almost didn’t, and that would have been a shame.

That’s it for my critique of the evolution of country music. Now, on to the next part of this post.

I do not believe in reincarnation. It always seemed silly to me to think that our souls jump from generation to generation. On top of that, people who claim to be reincarnated always say that they used to be someone famous or adventurous. I have never seen someone on television who claimed to have been some guy who dug ditches for a living.

With that in mind, I did a little Google experiment. If reincarnation were true, then it would make sense that a soul would jump as quickly as possible. I Googled my birthday to see who died on that day and started a fake reincarnation chain. Here it is:

In the last life, I was Upton Sinclair. That’s a pretty famous person.

Before that, I could have been Henry James Montague, a British actor.

Then, it gets back to America with Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism

Another jump across the pond brings me to Pehr Osbeck, a Swedish explorer.

It’s Sir Christopher Wren. Hey, he’s pretty smart.

That brings me to Kutsuki Mototsuna, a Japanese samurai commander.

Pope Paul III pops up. It’s good to be pope.

Johannes Gutenberg! Man, this list is filled with some influential people.

Here comes Acamapichtli, Aztec ruler. Things might have been different if he was around when Hernan Cortes showed up.

That’s as far as the chain goes. There’s no way of knowing what happened before that. Google went into overload. I suppose it’s a good place to stop this critique of country music and reincarnation.