Country Chatter

Are Country Lyrics Going To Get Old Fashioned?


For the most part, people aren’t attracted to country music purely for the lyrics. Great country artists tell stories as well as any musician, and there’s certainly value in that. But it’s the pleasant tunes, simple emotions, and casually brilliant vocals that tend to be the main draws.

But when you hone in on the lyrics even the most devoted country fans can admit that subject matter is kind of limited. This isn’t a condition only in country music. It’s actually pretty typical in a lot of genres. But really, there are like four or five different things that the bulk of country songs are about. What’s interesting, when you dive into those things, is the idea that country music might be set up to feel old fashioned in a matter of years. Here are a few examples.

Trucks Will Be Phased Out

It’s no exaggeration to say that there are a lot of country songs about trucks, or at least a lot that mention them. Even if we throw out the infamous Kenny Chesney track “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” there are plenty of additional examples like “We Rode In Trucks” by Luke Bryan, “Truck Yeah” by Tim McGraw, “Big Ol’ Truck” by Toby Keith, and the list goes on. These songs are going to feel dated if people aren’t driving trucks anymore. As we transition to eco-friendly cars and new designs, there’s talk of V8 pickup trucks going extinct, and we may see fewer such vehicles manufactured. That’s not to say there won’t be a need for trucks, and in all likelihood we’ll see fully electric ones getting popular in the future. But it remains to be seen if electric trucks will hold up to the general quality and surrounding atmosphere of the traditional trucks celebrated in country music.

Gambling Isn’t The Same

This is already sort of an old fashioned theme in country music, but it’s still out there. Kenny Rogers, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, and Carrie Underwood are just a few of the artists in this genre who have focused in one way or another on gambling. But there’s a whole lifestyle that this sort of song calls to mind of dusty casinos, hands of cards, chips down, money lost, and glasses of whiskey. That’s just not how people play these games anymore. Newer casino platforms have been designed for mobile phones and tablet computers, making modern casino gaming a decidedly digital experience. It’s no longer so much of a lifestyle, and songs that treat it as such are already beginning to sound like echoes from past eras.

Whiskey Is Going Mainstream

This whole idea can work both ways. In the case of trucks and casino games, we’re seeing society move beyond country lyrics in certain ways. With this one we’re watching society catch up! There are plenty of country songs about whiskey these days (most notably Cole Swindell’s “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey”), and most of them sound pretty cool. There’s a subtle, subconscious implication that country artists are in on this drink that a lot of average listeners probably don’t bother with. That’s not really the case anymore though. Whiskey bars are popping up in cities all over the U.S., and there was an article written a few years ago about how whiskey defeated vodka in the battle for American hearts and wallets. This doesn’t mean these songs will become old fashioned, but they might be a little outdated. Singing about whiskey nowadays is more like singing about something common, which has a little less impact.

These are just a few examples, and they’re not meant to be negative. A lot of country fans might even like the idea of the genre staying attached to a certain era even if that time appears to be passing by. The music is too popular to go anywhere, no matter what the prevailing themes are. And here’s the best news for country fans. One analysis declaring that all country songs are about four things actually eschewed themes altogether and defined songs by their different takes on relationships. It points out that most of these songs are ultimately about attraction, love, and/or heartbreak, regardless of other themes that might be included. And relationships aren’t going anywhere.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see how we feel about some of the hit songs and artists listed above in another 10 years.

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