Have you ever played a country-song backwards? It’ll stop raining than, your dog rises from the dead, your chronic thirst decreases (no more tears in your beer) and you sleep in your own bed, back in the arms of your long lost lover. Love heals!

I love country. Joy and grief pictured in some verses and a chorus. Simple tunes in three- or four-quarter time. A moaning tenor, a groaning baritone or a divine soprano, soberly accompanied by bass, drums (sometimes), keyboards and (steel)guitar, steering me towards unfathomable depth and great height in the wee hours. This seems all very traditional. Even so, especially the artists who refuse(d) to walk Nashville’s beaten tracks and did things their own way, always stole my heart: Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker.

Just like in the early seventies, ‘Music City USA’ seems not the right place for country with character these days. Most music from Nashville altered into deadly boring uniformity. Most singers and duo’s with big hats, molded by the powers that be, always accompanied by the same band (at least, it sounds this way), are nothing but a poor substitute for ‘the real thing’. Performing well-produced, neatly played, tame pop music. At its best sounding like harmless rock & roll. A whole lot of nothing!

Country music in Holland is in an even more distressing situation. Dutch country mainly takes place during annual fairs, often under catchy and original names, such as “Dullville Goes Country”. Local shopkeepers, dressed for the occasion in lumberjack-shirts, blue-jeans and the inevitable hat, have displayed their merchandise in stands. The locals stroll around looking for bargains. Somewhere near some haystacks a stage has been built. On it, a band tries to copy the music described in the paragraph above. However: in many cases not played half as well.

But it can even get worse: some organizations don’t hesitate at lending the stage to a karaoke-act. The attendant ‘country-audience’ don’t care. They were told this is country. So it is country. Besides, it sounds civilized and enjoyable and not too loud. Shortly: everything country shouldn’t be (see: the first lines of this editorial). Therefore country in Holland is non-existent.

Specs, July 2007