If you haven’t heard the oft-uttered falsehood “Country music is dead,” I envy you. Some form of that bald-faced lie comes up in comment sections, social media interactions, and conversations on a regular basis. Heck, even neotraditional country stars like Alan Jackson have said it in the past couple of years. However, the truth is that anyone who believes the lie isn’t looking (or listening) hard enough. Recently, Clint Black weighed in on the current state of country music.
Clint Black on the Current State of Country Music
Recently, Clint Black appeared on Tracy Lawrence’s radio show Honky Tonkin’. During their chat, the two 90s country titans talked about the genre’s current incarnation. About country music in general, Black said, “It’s always going to evolve, but it seems to return to its roots and I think that’s what’s happening now.”
While some listeners might scoff at that list, Clint has a point. The genre is coming out of the bro-country era of songs about tailgates, girls in short shorts, beer, trucks, and backroads into an era of songs with more substance. Like them or not, Combs, Wallen, Jinks, and several other current artists have had success with songs that have meat to them. Likewise, artists like Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde, and Miranda Lambert have shown that country audiences love well-written songs with meaning.
At the same time, independent country artists like Zach Bryan, Sierra Ferrell, and Charley Crockett have built huge followings through the songs they write or record. The authenticity in the songwriting draws fans from all walks of life. Good country music resonates, no matter who is making it or where you hear it.
Clint Black went on to say that this new era of songwriters will drive country music back to its roots. Songwriting, he says is the cornerstone of the genre. “That’s what I was worried about the most because the lyrics have always been the primary attraction in country music. It’s common man’s poetry… I think that we’re starting to see more of the meat back on the bone, now.”
Country Audiences’ Tastes Are Changing
Currently, 90s country is making a comeback with fans and artists alike.
Artists like Riley Green and Scotty McCreery cover and namedrop the greats of the era. Additionally, Joshua Hedley’s recent album Neon Blue sees the country singer digging deep into the sound of the era. That’s only scratching the surface. Right now, it isn’t hard to find an artist paying homage to the 90s.
Of course, as young musicians, that was the era of country music that helped to shape them. Also, they may be picking up on the fact that many country fans are longingly looking back on the 90s as the good old days and giving them what they want.
Nostalgia draws some listeners in. They heard Clint Black, Reba, Garth Brooks, and Tracy Lawrence in the backseat of their parents’ cars growing up. Now, they’re digging into those artists’ discographies. For others, the 90s marks the last time that demonstrably country music played on country radio and they crave that authentic sound.
This demand for authentic country music paired with the fact that artists like Clint Black are still on the road and making music bode well for the future of the genre.