Country legend Gene Watson recently shared his thoughts on modern country on his website. The “Farewell Party” singer was far from yelling “get off my lawn” to the new generation of country musicians, but he certainly wishes there’d be more depth.
“I don’t want to live in the past and I don’t mind young kids making a living in country music,” says Watson. “We all want that.”
“But I sure wish they’d get more music out on today’s radio that has some meaning to it,” Watson continues. “Some depth. What some people just refer to as ‘real.’ REAL life has love and it has heartache. There’s a lot of human emotion not being told today and I think that’s what we’re missing. I thank all of you that do still listen to Real Country wherever you find it. With that, it will live and thrive whether it’s on the radio or not.”
Watson makes an excellent point. It’s not that we don’t want country music to evolve, or that we don’t want it to come in its many flavors, from traditional to country infused with pop, rock, blues and other genres. It’s that we all want music to have some heart to it. Something with emotion and meaning.
Watson also recently shared Rory Feek’s story about hearing him on the radio as a young boy:
“I recall driving with my father when Farewell Party came on the radio. (He) pulled over to the side of the road and turned the volume button up,” Feek says, “and we just sat there and listened. Then he pulled back onto the road, and we kept driving. It wasn’t enough for us to just hear it — he had to pull the car over, so we could listen to every word.”
Watson leaves his fans with a hopeful note, saying that as long as there are people who want to hear songs with genuine heart and soul, country music will still thrive, whether it’s on the radio or not.
Watson has also earned his opinion, with 75 charted singles, 23 top tens and six No. 1’s. The native Texan has had a grounded and prosperous music career ever since the mid-70s and still regularly performs all across the country.