Five Great Rock/Country Crossovers
It's strange, but unless you're a musician, it seems like there's hardly any crossover between fans of country and rock. In fact, if you ask people what kind of music they like, especially if they're mostly rock fans, a lot of the time their answer will be "anything but country."
Photo by Mark C. Austin Colin Meloy of The Decemberists
But the musicians know where it's at. Just a cursory look at indie-rock will show you how much country, Americana, and related genres have worked their way into our modern definition of rock music. Not to mention every now and then you get some awesome crossovers between the genres. Here are five songs even "anything but country" will probably love.
5. Morrissey, "The Loop"
You could always hear small elements of Americana in Johnny Marr's jangly guitar work when Morrissey was a member of the Smiths, but Moz really engaged with the genre once he struck out on his own.
"The Loop" is one of his greatest songs, and a live favorite to this day. Its riff has an excellent country-western swagger, appropriately looping round and round throughout the song. The best part, though, is how understated it is compared to some of Moz's more dramatic works, conveying a powerful message through its simplistic words and music.
4. R.E.M., "Country Feedback"
R.E.M.'s most popular work came from a combination of their bouncy college-rock sound with the increasingly pervasive Americana influences that infiltrated their early-'90s output. Singer Michael Stipe once called "Country Feedback" his favorite song by the band, and it's not hard to understand why.
It's a perfect cloying ballad, with Stipe's agonizing voice almost downplaying the pain of a failed relationship through his sprechgesang delivery. Only when he devolves into crying "I need this" does Stipe puts forceful emotion behind his voice, as the song ends on a masterful guitar solo. It's backed throughout with a perfectly applied steel guitar that builds the backbone of the song and completes the entirety of the atmosphere.
3. Metallica, "Mama Said"
Say what you will about Metallica's mid-'90s albums and their experimentation outside the metal genre. But some of the songs they came up with during that period were gold, and one of the best was one of their most outside-the-box experiments. "Mama Said" is essentially a solo, country-inflected acoustic track performed by front man James Hetfield, written for his deceased mother. The emotional anguish he pours into his performance is enough to tear at your heartstrings no matter how jaded you were or are about later Metallica.
Hetfield himself is a longtime fan of country music, and delved into it a bit more with a performance of his late friend Waylon Jennings' "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand?" Even though it might not be quite appropriate for Metallica, it would be great to hear Hetfield indulge those tendencies on a solo record one day, based on how well these two tracks turned out.
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