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.

jamey johnsonMy 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.

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations matched!

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!

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

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.