The Twang Gang Essay

1082 words - 4 pages

How has rhythm and blues influenced country music? Rhythm and blues is responsible for revolutionizing country music in that it helped create a new “twang” sound. Through research we found that rhythm and blues may have even saved country music from extinction. Because the soulful sounds made by rhythm and blues artists are constantly changing, attracting newer and younger audiences is not an issue the rhythm and blues industry has. Therefore modern country music is attempting to diversify by incorporating rhythm and blues elements into its traditional mix so that the sounds will stay fresh, the music can reach a broader audience, and so that people can understand the similarities the two genres share.
The problem country music is facing is that it cannot seem to keep up with the fast pace music industry. Country songs have always consisted of a lonely cowboy singing sad songs. For a long period of time the expectations of country artists have not exceeded beyond slow guitar melodies. When a young, white artist Marty Stuart decided it was time to compose and play his own way, the country music industry was waking to the realization that the urban cowboy fad with all its easy sales had passed. They were also realizing that too much country music sounded alike, and that it needed fresh blood and a fresh sound. It needed to evolve (Clendinen 13). Stuart noticed the downfall country music had when it came to newer sounds, and took on the task of solving the problem by trading the front porch fiddle for the electrifying electric guitar. Stuart’s electric guitar not only created fresher sounds, but it also helped open the ears of a younger generation of country music listeners.
Attracting young listeners is the main goal of almost every genre, because without young listeners the demand for the genre would soon die out. As for country music, the sad western songs are wonderful to people at age seventy, but to the younger generation the cowboy is old news. Music director of the radio station WKIX in Raleigh, N.C., added that country music is losing the older audiences. She feels that by playing younger audiences and younger music we can possibly broaden the audience before they die off so we won’t be left with nobody listening (Clendinen). The truth is country music is desperate for new ideas, and rhythm and blues seems to be the closest target because of the two genres numerous similarities. For example, both country and rhythm and blues express lots of emotion through their lyrics and melodies, and they are both capable of making listeners feel the music. Grand Ole Opry great Porter Wagoner also recognized the nearness of rhythm and blues and country. But while he hewed closely to his deep country roots, he startled the traditional country world in 1979, when he brought James Brown to the Opry stage (Bessman 36). James Brown invited to is a prime example of an attempt to expand the country audience. Having the “king of soul” (James Brown) on a...

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