Jack Simpson: Country music awards...in name only?

Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson

Was it a misnomer? They called it the Country Music Awards show, but some of us old-timers felt we were watching more pop than country. Johnny Cash might have looked down with much skepticism as Kiss appeared and Carrie Underwood cavorted around in a skimpy costume. It was a far cry from the days of Patsy Cline!

If you watched the recent show, you probably waited in vain to hear some truly authentic country songs. I'm talking about songs sung by artists like George Jones, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Bill Monroe. Country music fans, at least the purists, waited in vain for sure to hear real country.

Historically speaking, true country had its roots in the Southern United States as early as the 1920s. It was folk music, cowboy music and played on guitars, banjos, fiddles and harmonicas. Hillbilly music was heard frequently among agricultural workers. These folks listened to songs with titles like "Wreck of the old 97," "Lonesome Road Blues," and "Little Log Cabin in the Lane." Back then country songs told simple stories, and they were sung by artists like The Carters and Jimmie Rogers. Rogers blended hillbilly, cowboy, folk, gospel and blues music.

Many of the old country singers were featured on the Grand Ole Opry heard on Nashville's WSM-AM Radio. Roy Acuff and Eddy Arnold were frequent guests on the Opry.

Hollywood got into the act. They brought us the singing cowboys like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Tex Ritter. Other favorites were the Sons of the Pioneers and Patsy Montana, who sang about wanting to be a cowboy's sweetheart.

Watching the recent television show, some of us missed hearing singers and artists like old Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. Country faded and pop has center stage. Cowboy ballads faded as well as traditional country left its roots for non-traditional pop.

I suppose what I am saying is that we cannot turn back the clock, but would it not be fun to include in a country music show some of the old tunes and even available old artists? Where are songs like "You Needed Me," "Shadows in the Moonlight," "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" and "Mamma Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys?" Are there any more artists like Conway Twitty, Anne Murray, Brenda Lee, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Bill Anderson and Hank Williams who might help really make a country show totally memorable?

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.