Some music critics are growing unsettled by the recent trend in Country Music toward more cerebral themes and elaborate concept albums they fear is tearing the genre from its humble roots. Carter McFarland, editor of Country Music Today, worries that some artists are drifting too far from the fundamentals. “We’ve got some folks out there who are straying from the Six B’s: boozing, brawling, balling, breaking up, believing and bombing. If you don’t have at least one of those ingredients, it ain’t country.”
Indeed, some country artists have plunged into ambitious projects that flout the Six B’s and range into topics previously unheard of in Country. Travis Crowley, a rising star on the Nashville scene, recently dropped a new concept album about the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece.
“I was kicking around the ranch reading Thucydides,” Crowley explained, “and it struck me that the war between Athens, which was the intellectual and cultural capital of the Greek world, and Sparta, which was the dominant military state, was an apt metaphor for the perennial conflict between humanity’s higher and lower states of consciousness.”
Crowley’s sophistication does not sit well with some of the more established Country stars. Randy Weatherby, whose latest hit “Tehran Will Pay for Your Cheating Heart” is about an American pilot who drops his payload on the Iranian capital while breaking up with his unfaithful girlfriend online, guzzling Jack Daniels and giving his heart to Jesus, tweeted, “All this fancy talk about the Greeks don’t belong in Country.” In another tweet, he wrote, “If you’re writing a song about war and there are no red, white and blue five-hundred pound bombs lighting up cities full of minarets, you’re doing it all wrong.”