We had a good run, my ears and I.
Sure, they've weathered their fair share of bad Top 40 hits over the years. Heck, they even survived a Kanye concert. Okay, that's not 100% true. The concert was cancelled because Kanye's video screen got damaged in transport, That's right, Mr. Unparalleled Musical Genius cancelled a show, inconveniencing literally tens of thousands of people, all because there would be no video screen to hold your attention while Kanye thumps his chest for two hours.
I walked out of that arena thanking my guardian angel for sparing my ears the agony of hearing Kanye West and knowing I had just dodged a huge bullet, but my luck ran out yesterday when my mother informed me that her car battery had given up the ghost.
Like any son unfortunate enough to already be in the vicinity when said car refused to start, I soon found myself blessed with the task of procuring a new battery at the local auto parts store.
Hilariously, I live in a small town where everything you need is a good half-hour away by car, yet I am literally spitting distance away from three auto parts stores.
Two are national chains catering to the "how much neon can I fit on one Acura" demographic, the other is a ma-and-pa, Figuring I'd "shop local", I soon found myself having a friendly conversation with the fellow behind the counter when I heard what sounded like obligatory pedal steel guitar wafting out of a nearby radio.
Notice I said "obligatory pedal steel guitar".
See, there are two ways to play a pedal steel guitar (besides "badly", of course):
In these rare instances, the pedal steel is actually called for because the songwriter, producer, or, anyone else who has a say in how things wind up sounding hears in their mind a part that only the pedal steel guitar can handle that winds up elevating the song to a whole new level.
This is the style of pedal steel guitar that you hear on ANY popular "new country" tune these days. It is literally the only thing about the song that is "country" in any way, which is why it is there. Without it, country radio programmers would quickly realize that "bro country" is really nothing more than Stryper (a.k.a. "mediocre Christian hair metal") with pedal steel and lyrics that could only come from someone who nixed English class in favor of auto shop in high school and is only too proud to tell you how "goodly" they speak.
Now, the reason I mentioned "bro country"is because, as it turns out, the song that rubbed its nut sack all over my ear holes was "Country Girl (Shake it For Me)" by Luke Bryan. Seeing as how the song came out in 2011, I suddenly realized just how lucky I had been these past five years to have ventured out in public so many times without hearing the song even once.
Especially when you consider that this song is - are you sitting down? - the THIRD best-selling song in country music history by a male solo artist.
That means that for all of the success of Buck Owens, Porter Wagoner, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Mel Tillis, Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Marty Robbins, Les Paul, Charlie Pride, Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr., Kenny Rogers and Eddie freakin' Rabbitt, it's a suburban homeboy with an addiction to teeth whitener and manicures who holds the bragging rights to one of the top three best-selling songs in country music. Ever.
To those who might suggest this is all just a case of "sour grapes" on my part, when exactly did you see me mention MY NAME anywhere on the above list?
This isn't about me, this is about future generations of humanity accepting atonal idiocy as greatness, for crying out loud.
See, only in a world where everybody gets a trophy for showing up would a third-rate Jimmy Buffet in a cowboy hat like Garth Brooks come anywhere near the Beatles, much less out-sell them, but, alas, this is the world we live in and it's the only world in which the likes of Luke Bryan flourishes while cheap lip service is annually paid to the likes of Willie and Merle; two artists the traditional country music industry did everything it could to run out of Nashville and now trots out at every country music awards show to remind viewers that, though this might look like Assless Chaps Night at Hooters, don't turn that channel, this really is "country music".
God help us all.