There are two kinds of people I don't trust. Anyone who thinks Two and a Half Men deserves it's Emmy Awards and anyone who claims to like music "but not rap or country". What the what? Dismissing an entire genre because you think country is "too twangy" or rap is "too hardcore" means you are missing out on some of the most talented and creative artists in the business. So don't be scared, I'm here to hold your hand and steer you towards a couple of gems.
You probably already know the usual pop country suspects-Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood. But all of those current artists owe a huge debt to the trailblazer who ranks up in my top ten artists of all time, Miss Dolly Parton. I could go on for days giving you reasons that Dolly is fabulous but it really comes down to the fact that the woman is a songwriting wizard. I have loved her since I was just a little thing listening to "9 to 5" on my tape player but this song she wrote for "Transamerica" a few years ago is one of my favorites. And proof that a lifetime of fame hasn't killed her ability to write lyrics that will make you tear right up. I love how unapologetically spiritual this song is. At about the 3:30 mark I just dare you not to get goosebumps. You sure you don't like country? Dolly Parton-Travelin' Thru
And then we have rap...
Oh what a misunderstood little category. It's true, rap can be rough. It can be offensive. I was at a dinner for the Women's Sports Foundation once upon a time when one Mr. LL Cool J sheepishly admitted to the women in the room that he was often ashamed of the way his genre represented our gender. I'm definitely not going to defend those kind of songs or encourage you to listen to NWA. However, I am sure going to tell you there is some truly amazing rap out there. I believe really strongly that it's important to expose ourselves to things outside of our own realm of experience and the beauty and poetry of "intelligent rap" as I prefer to think of it, is a fantastic way to get some insight into a world so completely different from my own. This track is called "Be" and it's by an artist named Common. I love the lyrics to this song, there are some beautiful lines about our responsibilities to our children and taking the time to just "be". And I particularly love the video for this song. The images lend some dignity to neighborhoods that often get misrepresented. Put down your misconceptions and have a listen.
As with anything, you can find a lot of garbage if you look at the surface of country or rap-but if you are willing to dig a little? There is a handsome reward grasshopper.
peace ; )