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.

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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!

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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.