There was a time when I, like all right-thinking people, rejected country music unconditionally, in all its forms, in whole and in part, with passion and righteous fury.
My cautionary tale traces a familiar arc. It all began with “alt-country” — you know, some Wilco, a little Whiskeytown. No harm, right? It was country by and for indie hipsters. Any connection to real country was attenuated by several layers of irony.
Then, you know, some border cases creep in. Does Emmylou Harris count? The Dixie Chicks?
Inevitably you reach the sad state I’m now in: enjoying a bona fide, full-fledged, no-doubt-about-it country album, with a sound, as one song puts it, “between Jennings and Jones.” The shame!
Anyway, his name is Jamey Johnson, the album is That Lonesome Song, and this is only one of the songs that is both clever and — unusually, at least based on what I’ve heard of contemporary country — raw and dark.