True Country Music

Written by: Cullen Kobayashi

I write this because a lot of people don’t give country music a chance. Whether it’s the distaste of twangy grass roots or today’s pop country… there’s always an argument for why country music is garbage. If you think country is strictly tractors and cheap beer then you are mistaken. Sure there are artists that only sing about drinking beer on back dirt roads, but that’s not all this music has to offer. It’s about finding the right artists that embody this genre… here’s a few that do.

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Johnny Cash

Yes you have heard of him, but have you actually listened to his music? For many, the answer is no. There is a reason why he has sold more than 90 million records worldwide. Cash is a country icon to say the least. His music features songs about regret, sorrow, but also redemption. Each song is a unique story with a distinct guitar rhythm. His low baritone voice  complements the somber tone that accompanies these stories. If you are looking for upbeat music, look somewhere else. A lot of his songs are darker but contain a deep message about life and the choices you make. Rest in peace Johnny. The best way to experience Cash is by listening to the This is: Johnny Cash playlist on Spotify. Check it out.

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Willie Nelson

Another country icon and superstar musician. I am guessing you have heard “On the Road Again” countless times, but this is just one of his many great songs. Willie is another old school country artist that I think today’s generations forget about. His music was essential for the country genre, and he is credited with being one of the founders of the subgenre, outlaw country. Nelson did not have an easy life; he dealt with road bumps all throughout his beginnings and career. As a result, his music is reflective of true country music values. His soothing voice will lure you in, but it’s the lyrics that will resonate with you. If you want a taste of what he has to offer, listen to “Mommas Don’t Let Your Sons Grow up to Be Cowboys.”

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Chris Stapleton

You may have not heard of this one. Stapleton is just recently rising to fame as an artist, but he has been heavily involved in the industry as a songwriter for quite some time. He has written over 150 songs for popular artists like Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley. It wasn’t until 2015 that he released his first solo album The Traveller. Since then he has released 2 more albums, the most recent being From a Room: Volume 2, released this year. Stapleton, like Cash and Nelson, does not align with the common belief of what country music is. His songs are not promotions for John Deere or Busch Light. Instead they tell real life stories about real life problems. Now I understand that you may be under the impression that I only like depressing country music, but it’s the anecdotal values in this music that I enjoy. Life isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, and for many, especially those who are a part of blue collar America, it’s important to find music that resonates with the values of instilling hard work and grit to overcome adversity. Stapleton has brought back the old school country style and is one of the largest names in the business today. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Hard Livin’

  • Devil Named Music

  • Without Your Love