When I was a little kid I probably had even more eclectic taste in music than I have now. I think that’s pretty normal for kids. When you’re six years old it’s all just music. My dad was one of those “I like both kinds of music, country and western” kind of people so I heard a lot of country music in the 60s and early 70s. My mom has always had somewhat broader tastes and had a few pop albums and even one classical. It had The 1812 Overture and I can’t remember what else.
I listened to rock and roll during the 70s, like all the other kids. By the 80s I had stopped paying much attention to music and it became just background noise. Then, slowly, I started listening to classical music because I was tired of being bored with the music I was listening to and by the mid to late 90s I had stopped paying attention to everything else.
Living in Oklahoma it is impossible to avoid hearing country music even if one doesn’t listen to it but I still don’t know anything about what’s going on in the country music world these days. A few days ago we had the TV tuned to the local news. We were talking and not paying much attention when I heard country music on TV and saw an African-American face. I was surprised and a little sad that I was surprised. Is this still unusual? As I said, I haven’t been keeping up but it seems to me that country music is still very white.
The singer was Darius Rucker. Later I looked him up on YouTube. I listened to a few of his songs: It Won’t Be Like This For Long and Alright and Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It. I don’t have much to say about those. Typical country sound; not bad for country music.
Naturally, I started thinking about the only other Black country singer I’ve ever heard of: Charley Pride. I guess back in the 60s it was a Really Big Deal that he was “colored”, as people used to say then but I don’t remember any of the adults I knew being especially worked up about it. I remember some people saying, in slightly awe-struck voices, “That n****r can really sing!” but no one that I knew seemed to think there was anything wrong with it and they were happy enough to buy his records and listen to him on the radio. I have heard that at first his race was kept secret – his picture wasn’t on his album covers and he didn’t appear on TV – but I personally don’t remember ever not knowing that he was Black.
This was one of the songs I liked when I was a little kid. Very cute, a love song about wooden Indians.
Here’s another one; something a little more traditional.