This Music Don’t Play Backwards

Words and music Creative Commons License 1998 by Jim Bearden

This song addresses one of the burning questions of our day– or at least one that, in certain circles, seems to generate a lot more heat than light: whether a lot of today’s country music is “real” country or not. After doing some reading on the history of country music (and related types), I wrote this song, to add my two cents’ worth to the discussion. It’s intended to be played, for reasons that will probably be obvious, in a “Waylon Jennings” kind of style.

Intro:
Some people say that they don’t like the way country music’s been changing its tune;
And they’ll argue all night over who has the right to change how much, how fast, and how soon.
They want someone who still plays just like in the old days, “so it sounds like a real country song.”
But if you look back in history, you’ll see it’s no mystery – it’s been changing its tune all along.

A1:
It was the first records, the first radio, that brought the first big change;
And from then on, country music would never be the same.
That music came from Appalachia, Broadway tunes, and Delta blues;
You could hardly count the sources of the music that they used.
It’s never been that simple, it’s been changing since day one,
‘Cause this music don’t play backwards — the only way it goes is on.

A2:
Through the ‘30’s and the ‘40’s, the Depression and the War,
Country music was going places it had never been before.
Then came the ‘70’s, and the “Outlaws” found one more new place to go —
Took country music to the kids who’d grown up on rock’n’roll.
Folks said, “This ain’t real country” about each new thing that was done,
But this music don’t play backwards — the only way it goes is on.

Bridge:          
“Cold and old” — or “hot and new”,
It don’t matter, ’cause this train’s gonna keep on rolling through.
You can call it “countrypolitan”; you can call it “redneck rock”;
But if people want to hear it, it’s going to the top.

A3:
Now it’s the ‘90’s, and country music’s going all around the earth;
And it’s sure traveled far, and changed a lot, since the time of its birth.
But if the music’s sounding different from what it was just yesterday,
Just remember, since it started, that it’s always been that way.
You can say you liked the old stuff; you can say you miss what’s gone;
But this music don’t play backwards — the only way it goes is on.

End:
No, this music don’t play backwards — the only way it goes is on.

 

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