Everything Except Country and Rap
Years ago I drew a picture of a dude sitting at a bar with loads of gold chains on sitting at a bar next to another dude in a 10 gallon hat. Above them were speech bubbles. The chains guy said “I like everything but country.” That hat guy said “I like everything but rap.” I searched my house for the sketchbook it was in but couldn’t find it.
I think it was me rolling my eyes at that phrase a little bit, by doubling down on the cliche. Some form of that is absolutely the most common response to “what kind of music do you like?”. I always thought there was some deeper meaning there beyond just people repeating each other, but couldn’t put my finger on it.
Laura Pochodylo digs into it:
University of Michigan Women’s Studies and Music professor Nadine Hubbs wrote a book called Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music in 2014. I bought it on a whim, and it put words and reasons to my discomfort with so many of my peers writing off country music.
“Everything but country and rap” at its core is a class issue. I just needed someone else to say it, and it confirmed why it had been bugging me.
“Is the declaration ‘Anything but country’ really about the music?” Hubbs asked in her book. No, it is most certainly not. And anyone who knows me knows that using pop culture as a window to our bigger world and bigger issues is my favorite thing ever, so you know I was hooked after reading that.
Where there’s class issues, there are race issues. This is no surprise. But that’s where the story of “everything but country and rap” starts: a formal racial division.
Larua adds loads of her own experiences to the story. I love this bit:
The other day in a salon, my stylist asked where I worked. I told her, and she said, “well, I listen to everything but country.” Oh, okay. There’s a lot of good country music out there, though, I said. “Yeah, sure, I love Kacey Musgraves, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton,” she continued. She told me she had just seen a few of these artists at the Ryman, the Mother Church of Country Music. I have bad news for you, friend. You’re a country music fan.
Why is that so bad? Because it represents something that anyone looking to maintain or elevate their class status doesn’t want to associate themselves with. To admit you like country music is admitting you like something inherently and purely working class, which jeopardizes your status as middle class.