Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sing that song!

280. Montgomery Gentry - "Hell Yeah" (Columbia Nashville, 2003)

While I am stridently against nostalgia as music criticism ("the music of my generation was better than the music of yours, you dummy") and nostalgia as social criticism (read: conservativism), being against nostalgia in general is not really a tenable position. Hell, I'm already nostalgic for college despite only having graduated 3 months ago.

The kind of nostalgia in this song (i.e. "take me back to when the music hit me, when life was good and love was easy") is so unrealistic and contradictory that it is perfectly harmless fun. This is especially true in country, a genre built largely around the fact that love is never ever easy.

The explicit musical references are respectable tough guy music: Haggard, Johnny Cash and Bruce, which could be boring conservative nostalgia, except for the completely POP country of the song, and the fact that they're used not as signifiers of authenticity but as excuses to go apeshit as a bar. And then there's the copping of the "Back in Black" riff in the chorus, which makes it even more silly and anthemic and awesome.

And then there's the actual song. The way the verses are constructed gets me every time: a slow couplet and then the three quick rhymes leading up and off towards the moon, the perfect content+form marriage, because of course release is exactly what this song is about, the kind of release universal enough to make me empathize with a hard-working southern dude and a yuppie chick with a tramp stamp as if their Friday night experience were just like mine. This is pop music of the highest order, even when it pretends that "sounds good!" is a perfectly normal thing to yell at a band. :)

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