Image Credit: above: Merle Haggard performing at Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee in 2009 (Wikimedia)
Society & Culture

Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace

A meditation on country music

I have heard the following remark, or something similar, made about country music on numerous occasions in my life: “You know, it’s kind of hard to take a guy seriously when he sings about loving Jesus one minute and drinking and cheating the next.”

It is always uttered by someone who is not a big country music fan, and it is usually during a conversation about gospel music performed by country artists (or “spiritual music,” as a lot of country folks put it).

To these folks, “Christian country music” seems like a contradiction in terms. The idea of blending worship and honky-tonk seems inherently inappropriate.

Allow me to pause here for clarification about a very important matter. When I speak of “country music,” I most certainly am not talking about what passes for country on most standard radio stations today. Just as political movements can be hijacked, so can music. It is crucial for the reader to realize that the monotonous pablum spewed from airwaves today by the sissified, skinny-jean-wearing, scantily bearded, “bro-country” nancies is most definitely not country music. Don’t even get me started on that grotesque innovation called “country rap,” appropriately known by traditional country music stalwarts by its abbreviation, CRAP.

Christianity has played an important role in country music since its inception....

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