RadioDavidByrne: What Country is This?

With a fresh month, at the beginning of a fresh year, comes a fresh playlist on David Byrne's internet radio station. All you really need to know is that it includes "If Jesus Drove A Motorhome," by Jim White (screengrab from video below). But since Mr. Byrne posts such terrific insight on the work of the artists he plays, here's a snip from his intro for January:

Many of the artists on this playlist grew up with the songs on last month's playlist. They may have also been listening to rock, R'nB and folk, but their own writing was grounded in a music that came uniquely from that place. The "classic" country spoke of hard work, honky tonks, trains, and stuff people outside of New York and L.A. recognized as being what used to be their world. But now that world is mainly nostalgic memories.

There are hardly any songs from this bunch about standing by your man or simple lost love – the poetry of rock and the beats and the changes the country had been going through meant those innocent bygone days could be evoked in the music, but no longer in the words. These writers used this music as a way of reasserting a claim on music that they grew up with and now realized they loved. Music that was being dragged away from truth and real feelings by the Countrypolitain record men – or so it was felt. Kind of like the way Republicans have laid a claim recently on the flag and on Jesus, but in this case they didn't get away with it, not completely. These younger (at the time) musicians took the music back.

Link. And here are some previous related posts.