George Graham

The Cooption and Corruption of Country Music

I don’t listen to today’s country music. It offends me.

That’s sad because I used to be a fan. When I was in my early teens somebody gave me a little plastic radio for Christmas. It was battery operated of course. There was no electricity in my part of Jamaica in those days.

There was no radio station, either. I recall Jamaica having a station with the call letters ZQI when I was growing up but for whatever reason, it wasn’t operating – or I couldn’t receive it – when I got that little white radio.

The signals I could catch, usually after midnight, came from America – WCKY, Cincinnati and a station in Del Rio, Texas. Both broadcast country music.

In those days, Hank Williams was at the height of his popularity, and I tapped my toes to such melodies as “Your Cheating Heart” and “Hey Good-looking.”  I listened rapturously to Hank and his ilk – Roy Acuff,  Ernest Tubb, Conway Twitty, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Tammy Winette, Jean Shepard, Kitty Wells…

As the years passed, I was introduced to the Texas Swing of Bob Wills and his band, the guitar magic of Chet Atkins, the unique voice of  Dolly Parton – and a vast array of other talented artists who strummed and crooned me to sleep at night.

But in more recent years, I began to notice a change. A kind of blight has fallen on country music.  With the possible exception of Willie Nelson, the performers are no longer gifted musicians with touching tales to tell.

They are either “cross-over” pop singers – or political propagandists.

I think the political propaganda began with Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskokee,” which was a screed targeting the anti-war culture of the Vietnam era.  And he repeated the message in “Fightin’ Side of Me.”

The trend has escalated to the point where “country” lyrics often include a kind of neo-Fascist message masked by phony patriotism and ostensibly promoting “traditional values.”

The “rebel” posturing of Hank Williams Jr. (pictured above), and his raucous pal, Waylan Jennings, for example, is clearly an expression of the militia mentality that festers beneath the surface of American society.

So I was not surprised to learn that Hank Jr. had exposed his political agenda on Fox News, comparing the president of the United States to Hitler.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s news item:

Hank Williams Jr., the singer whose various videos for the hit song “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Monday Night” has served as the intro to “Monday Night Football” for 23 seasons, compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler during a Monday morning appearance on “Fox and Friends.” The statement led to ESPN pulling his popular intro segment, best known to fans for its “Are you ready for some football?” ending, for Monday night’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

During a discussion on the 2012 presidential race, Williams began discussing Obama’s golf outing with Speaker of the House John Boehner. He said it was a political mistake, on par with “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

I hope this is the beginning of the end for Hank Junior and his kind. They have tarnished the legacy of Hank Senior and the other giants of country music who gave me joy and comfort for a lot of years.

Surely, Americans must realize by now that they’re being brainwashed.




About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for


  • Frightening! Has the unimaginable become imaginable? How can people be so pathetic as to admire Sarah Palin? Shall we abandon ship and move to Canada? There is some sanity there at least, but there are uninformed, unintelligent people everywhere. But, at least Canada has fewer dimwits.

  • Sadly there are some in Canada who would support the likes of Sarah Palin and Gingerich, but, thank God ,the majority of Canadians think with their heads and not their ‘buts’. The media in the states, seem to be owned, ‘Lock stock and barrel’, by the very rich (oil companies, drug companies, incurance companies,etc.)and they feed the uneducated public whatever they please, whether it’s true or not. Too bad, the ‘public’ seems to be uneducated or stupid or both. Billy G.

  • I am on my knees: Dear God, please save us all from certain destruction…I promise we will be very, very good from now on but spare us from the like of Palin et al!

  • I guess I should have my passport renewed while I can! I feel very depressed. I want to live in a country I can feel proud of, not one ruled by greed and fear, which is what the Sarah Palins et al are stoking.