I’ve avoided mention of that ghastly song by country singer Jason Aldean for many reasons, but I bring it up now because while I am not a big country music fan, by any means, sometimes I do love a country song a whole lot, and I hate to see a genre that is strong with possibility so consistently associated with a piece of hate-filled dreck by a right-wing clown who is nothing more than a pretender, as far as his “small-town” credentials go. (The man grew up in Macon, GA–population 150,000 or so–and Homestead, FL–population 80,000, but it’s part of the Miami metro area.)
Meanwhile, other country artists are honoring the genre’s folk and blue-collar roots with songs of real emotional import and weight, and I hate seeing all of the oxygen in the discourse sucked up by yet another crappy anthem for the MAGA crowd.
So, today I have a song by Tyler Childers. I saw this article mentioned on social media the other week and saved the song and its accompanying video, which tells a rather heartbreaking story of gay love in a 1950s Appalachian mining town:
Like any country music singer worth his salt, Tyler Childers knows a little something about heartbreak. Unlike most of the current crop of shiny Nashville honky-tonk pretenders, though, he also knows a whole lot about growing up in coal country.
Childers was born and raised in Lawrence County, Kentucky, a stone’s throw away from the storied home places of country legends Loretta Lynn and Chris Stapleton (with whom he performed a stirring duet at the Kentucky Rising festival last year). His father was a coal miner; his grandpa, a tenant farmer, scraped a living out of the clay-rich soil. His music — a blend of country, folk and bluegrass (though don’t call it Americana), is steeped in that rural Appalachian upbringing and the lessons he learned at home in the hollows. Childers has come by his fan base honest, and has used his rising fame for good by speaking out about issues like racial injustice and religious intolerance.
As for the song itself? It’s quite a beautiful song, really…gentle and sad in the best country-folk tradition. It reminds me of the Shannon Dooks song I platformed twice this summer already, in its depiction of a love that is devoted to overcoming the challenges. There’s an emotional honesty in this song that the Jason Aldeans of this world can’t come close to capturing.