Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2002 / 9 Shevat, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Save the Grand Ole Opry? -- WSM-AM, out of Nashville, has been home to the Grand Ole Opry since 1925. Now, according to the New York Times, WSM, faced with dropping ratings, it is thinking of changing formats. Something with a little more Destiny's Child, perhaps.

Supposedly, Gaylord Entertainment Company, which owns the station, is "committed to finding another radio home" for the Opry, and is "exploring national syndication."

The problem is country stations now have very strict "playlists that emphasize Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill."

Nothing against those folks, but gee, we have come a long way since Hank Williams, haven't we? Most country music today is just pop music with a slight accent.

Maybe that's why the biggest country album of 2001 was the soundtrack of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" which included, you know, actual country music.

I'm not the biggest fan of country or pop music, and certainly I have not gained wealth by predicting pop trends. But I would venture to suggest that one of the problems here is that the country music genre, like all genres really, has become so diluted that it doesn't mean anything any more.

Shania Twain, for instance, is considered a country singer, even though her tunes have been recorded by Britney Spears, who I guess might be considered a country singer herself, if you closed your ears and squinted.

Ms. Twain won't play the Opry, according to the Times, "preferring more lucrative dates."

So here's one country singer, who isn't really a country singer, who positions herself as a country singer, but won't perform at the granddaddy of country venues, because it's a little bit too country for her-- that is, it just don't pay enough.

Well, gee, I like money too. No reflection on Shania Twain-- hey, grab the gusto, girl-- but besides road shows, Vegas extravaganzas, synthesizers, cordless mics, private jets, roadies, tinsel, sequins, and tan midriffs-- we should probably make room for the poor wayfaring stranger as well.

After all, it is a world of woe. Lest we forget.

JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Ian Shoales