A Throwback?

One Of Brad Paisley’s Paisley Telecasters

If you are a country fan, you might have the vague feeling that sometimes, the music sounds very similar, and not understand it.  Well, here’s why.  Click to the middle of the song for the sound I’m referring to, if you don’t have the patience to start from the beginning.

You’ve got some of the newest country bands whose sound can border on throwback.  Listen to it:  Eli Young Band sings a song called “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.”  Eric Church Sings a song called “Drink In My Hand.”

Both of them sound alike, and to me, like they have tinges of–get this–Tom Petty.  Listen closely:  Tom Petty’s “Learning To Fly” is pretty obviously similar to “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” but Eric Church’s song is channelling Petty just the same, just sped up.  Of course, nothing matches Tom Petty’s voice, but I know from my years as a concert band student that they sound alike because the songs are written in the same key, and have similar chord structures and relatively closely-matched tempo…but the intangible here is the sound of the guitars through the amplifiers.  That sound is what makes you know Dave Mathews from Jimi Hendrix from Bob Dylan,  Slash from Santana, and Brad Paisley from Keith Urban (skip to 2:30 or so to see the first of the song’s dueling solos).  It’s really the sound that takes you to a place you might be familiar with, and I think Break Your Heart is one of those songs that is too close to be original, but at the same time perfectly comfortable in my ears.  Sort of like the “Milking the prostate” scene in the movie “Road Trip.”

Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Strat

Anyway, I have been driving to work every morning and hearing these country tunes on the radio, and thinking, Why do I think of Tom Petty every time I hear this?  Now I know, I guess.  I’m glad I finally figured it out…it’s been bugging me for nearly a month now!

I don’t suppose it should be a surprise, thinking about it…sometimes, bands are simply way ahead of their time.  Take for example Hootie and the Blowfish–“Let Her Cry” was actually a country song twenty years before country sounded that way, and Trent Reznor (founder of Nine Inch Nails) had no idea he wrote one of a dying country legend’s greatest performances.  (Original here, in case you lived under a rock in the 90s.)

All new music came from somewhere, I suppose–from everything new coming out of the Beatles, Elvis, and the Stones (and many well before them), it’s inevitable that some sounds will overlap.  It’s just uncommon, that those sounds overlap from one twenty-year-period to another (“Learning To Fly” was released in ’91…when I was nine!)  And if you think about it, most great songs are remade…think of Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page,” and then listen to Metallica’s version.  Or even better, in my opinion–George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”…versus Seether’s version.

That is all for today…I had to get that off my chest, now that I’ve figured it out!  I know it’s a lot of links, but the music is all worth a listen.

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