Monday, November 14, 2005

NYC: The Meat Loaf Principle

Ain't no Coupe de Ville hiding at the bottom of a cracker jack box.

--Meat Loaf, Two Out Three Ain't Bad

So, conservative country music is attempting this week to take liberal New York City, one of the few U.S. major metropolitan cities without a local country music radio station. And it's all going to be broadcast on satellite radio. Even the local alternative paper, Nashville Scene, is not-so-alternatively getting into the act, running a cover story last week that was more about Brooks & Dunn than about the industry's prospects in Manhattan. Nonetheless, the Scene's cover is splashed with a drawing of giant Brooks & Dunn stomping through NYC like countrified Stay Puff Marshmallow men and one of the drawings with the story has the music duo prying the crown off of the Statue of Liberty and replacing it with a cowboy hat. Robert Altman couldn't have started with a better premise in a sequel to Nashville.

C'mon. This is NYC; it's their world. The rest of us are just visiting. Country music has tried to extend itself to NYC in the past without any luck, because the logic is turned around. NYC cannot be an extension of us; we are extensions of it.

Sure, country music looks good to itself in Carnegie Hall, staring like Narcissus into a pop culture pool and enchanting itself, but that doesn't mean that it's going to make it there. It may just be another 40 years before Country Music returns like a bunch of conventioneers to the Big Apple.

Package country all pretty and it likely still won't impress New York, which is already looking at the next trinket scheduled to dangle after country goes back to the country. And that's why we love (and hate) NYC. It's an island of Coupe de Ville's in a sea of Cracker Jack prizes.

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