We have all likely heard somebody say the token term that they like all music, except for country and metal (and sometimes rap, rap is like the y vowel in this equation). The people that say this are generally not huge music people and that’s completely acceptable. I realize not everybody feels the need to sub categorized genres with slightly different nuances and discuss it with their like minded peers almost always. That stated, the statement is a giant brushstroke towards two extremely multifaceted genres.
Let’s begin with Country, shall we? Country music is a unique and ageless genre. The term was popularized in the 1920’s, however ancient Appalachian folk music had country elements that shaped music as we know it. As time went on country music evolved and often collaborated with other misunderstood genres such as bluegrass, roots and americana. Country features all kinds of exciting stringed instruments such as the banjo, dobro and slide guitar. It also involves heart-wrenching songwriting, elevating harmonies and unparalleled instrumental bridges. Some of the world’s most treasured musicians play country such as: Jonny Cash, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Townes Van Zandt, Lucinda Williams, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson. When people say they don’t like country I don’t believe this is who they are referring to. Who they very well could be referring to is the pop infused top 40 bubble gum country void of those heart breaking lyrics and moving harmonies such as Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain, and Blake Shelton. These musicians play pop music with a country garnish and it seems to excite a great deal of people. They are country musicians in the way that U2 is a rock band or Kenny G is a jazz musician.
Now let’s move on to Metal, shall we? Metal is easily the most musically impressive genre there is. Few people understand it but those who do treat it like a religion and there is something to that. It’s instrumentally complex, packed with emotion and doesn’t follow the rules. It’s origins are diverse, international and experimental. Metal has a multitude of subgenres such as-death metal,math metal, black metal, Christian metal, Avant-garde, heavy metal and hair metal. Some of the most exciting bands from the 70’s features metal elements such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden. Other extraordinary metal bands include: Slayer, Pantera, Mastodon, Motorhead, Opeth, Tool and Lamb of God. Each of who play beautifully complex music not catered to the untrained ear. I believe that those who don’t enjoy metal hear incessant screaming and lyrics that refer mostly to goat sacrifice and satan. This is clearly an untrue and unnecessary generalization but it speaks volumes towards the problematic nature of oversimplification.
I would even argue that country and metal are quite similar; they both cater to the outlaws of society and relish in the art of not conforming. The are both timeless, distinctive and powerful genres. They both involve music festivals that accommodate to a very specific kind of person. When people say they don’t like country or metal, they are demonstrating the tedious consequence of generalization. Art is about the details, the interpretation and the freedom to rebel.