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WHY DO I LISTEN TO COUNTRY? I’LL GIVE YOU 10 GOOD REASONS

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I'm the country music critic for the Deseret News, and about once a week someone asks me what I can possibly see in the stuff.

So, today I'll tell you.1. Anyone who knows America knows it's like an Idle Isle chocolate. The heart of America has a gooey, sentimental center. Country music speaks to that soft heart and some critics see that as "kitsch" - simple-minded and popular.

The truth is that country music cuts through to the human gut. And, sad as it might make university professors, the human heart tends to be pretty straight-forward and often schmaltzy.

Besides, I tend to agree with illustrator Eric Carle: "If you don't develop an affection for kitsch, you'll never fit in in America."

3. From the waltz to the two-step, from The Gator to the Texas Swing, there are dozens of different dances that go with country music. Try waltzing to Oingo Boingo.

5. Country music is honest. Ninety percent of the time, pop music and country music treat the same theme: romantic love. But the best country refuses to slick and trick it up.

7. Country music doesn't pretend to be something it's not. Anyone who knows his musicology knows that rock music comes from the blues. White rock, in a sense, has been ripped off from black singers. Most rock musicians are urban white kids trying to sound like Muddy Watters.

Country music comes out of the mountains of Tennessee and - before that - the folk songs of Europe. When rocker Joe Cocker sings, he's pretending he has a black soul. But when Johnny Cash cries through a tune, like it or not, it's what real white soul sounds like.

9. Fiddles and steel guitars can break your heart. Synthesizers can't.

10. Unlike rock musicians, country music songwriters realize that after 2,000 years of Western civilization, they're not going to come up with much original wisdom. What they do is what country folk have been doing for centuries _ they take tried and true truth and find fresh ways of expressing it.

An example is the piece of conventional wisdom that says there are no words to describe the sensation of love. In a recent Randy Travis song the fresh spin was "Old Mr. Webster could never define, what's going on between you're heart and mine."

If you find that sappy, by the way, please refer back to point No. 1.