Daily Song Study

Cracker – Lonesome Johnny Blues

In songs on June 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm

When I lived in NYC, I lost track of the number of times I heard this: “I like all kinds of music…except country music.”

It’s interesting to hear that sort of talk in the land of Springsteen, because rock and roll wouldn’t exist without country music. So allow me to introduce some country music by a rather non-country band, Cracker:

Known mostly for their loser-rock stylings, the Cracker boys know from whence they came, and their guitarist Johnny Hickman (also the song’s author) delivers this one without a trace of irony.

The argument about what is or isn’t “real” country music obviously takes us into irresolvable subjectivity, so I won’t venture there, except to say that as it pertains to rock and pop history, the further back you go, the more relevant it becomes to the study of songcraft. This tune draws much more from the older school than from the new, despite its relatively recent vintage.

Lyrically, this one benefits from close listening. Check it out.

  1. I particularly like this one. I hated country until i went to Nashville with a friend, saw a really good, edgy, old time band and realized i was dismissing an entire universe of music. I went exploring afterwards and found plenty of great stuff that has stuck with me.

    Basic country and basic rock and roll are both 12 to 16 bar blues. One accents the 2 and 4, the other the 1 and 3. The form is otherwise identical. The feel does differ because of that and i suspect the hatred of country is more cultural arrogance or dismissal than much more. Basically, one needs to get drunk with the right band and your door will inch open.

  2. Obviously drunkenness and country music are made for each other.

  3. I enjoyed this song thoroughly. Id like to further give an example. Elton Johns “Tumbleweed Connection” to me, is a brilliant mixture of country, rock, and concept.

  4. I do love the conceptual country, a la Red Headed Stranger. It’s something there should be more of.

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