Traditional Country VS. Modern Country Part III

By: Daneille Scott

Traditional Country VS. Modern Country Part III

The careers of both Cash and Brooks are examples of the difference between traditional country music and modern country music. The singers have different influences that molded their styles of music. Cash's music reflects different emotions and events that occurred throughout his life, whereas Brook's music is influenced by other country and rock artists that were famous during his childhood.

Cash sings songs and writes music as a way to vent the troubles and heartaches that he went through, while Brooks, who has a good life with few traumatic hardships, just wants to follow his dreams and become successful like many artists did before him. In a way, Cash and artists during his time laid the stepping stones so that other artist today like Brooks could have an easier path to fame.

Not only is their music influenced by different aspects in their lives, but the sound of Cash's and Brook's music is different as well. This difference is due to the availability of technology and to what was acceptable during the time period that their careers were flourishing.

During Cash's career peak, distortion on a guitar was unheard of and rarely done in country music. Therefore, the use of acoustic instruments caused Cash's music to have a simpler, traditional sound. Because the genre of country music has expanded and technology has advanced since then, using electric instruments and distorting music is more common in the country music industry.

Brook's music is louder, more distorted, and performed with electric instruments. Because of this, his songs, like many other modern country songs, have a non-traditional country-rock sound to them.

Cash's traditional country songs were developed so that the everyday, ordinary person could relate to them. Although some of Brook's songs may also reflect events in his life, they are developed for ratings and entertainment value. Over time, the meaning behind the lyrics became less valued and emphasis was placed on which artist could put on a bigger show.

During Cash's stage performances, he has a very traditional style. He wanted nothing fancy, just him in his simple black wardrobe, his acoustic guitar, and raspy baritone voice singing about his life, love, and loss. His songs and performances appeal to the older generations of people who loved the experiences that he sings about.

Cash's form of entertainment was very mild compared to that of Brooks, who's concerts aren't just about music; they are a whole show in themselves- like watching a movie that has music in it. With his career thriving in the music video era, Brook's tied his musical talent in with the new modern effects of film. He loves the lights and the smoke. He emits the energy of an action hero when performing- running, jumping, and sometimes even flying through the air.

This entertainment attracts a wide variety of audience. Younger generation love the show, and older generations appreciate his talent and where he got his influences. Even people who prefer rock & roll music listen to Brook's songs because his sound and performance style borders that fine line between country and rock & roll music.

In spite of the fact that Cash is considered to be a traditional country music artist, some of his influences and sounds come from rock & roll music. Several of his songs including I walk the Line, My Name is Sue, and his last hit Hurt, a remake of the rock hit performed by Nine Inch Nails, have garnered Cash much success both on the traditional country charts and the rock charts as well.

As with Cash's career, Brooks has also had much success both on the rock charts and the traditional country charts. Some of Brook's traditional hits include This Damn Old, The Dance, and If Tomorrow Never Comes.

Despite the obvious differences and boundaries between traditional country music and modern country music, these two great legends cross the boundaries at will, thereby bringing musical enjoyment to several different generations and shaping what we know today as country music. Without traditional country there wouldn't be modern country.

Because of artists like Cash and Brooks, up and coming artists have the opportunity to push the boundaries and shape country music for future generations.

Work Cited

Biography.2006. "Johnny cash Biography" A&E Television Networks. 16 Oct. 2006>.

"Cashing In." Time 30 Mar. 1992: 1-2 Time Magazine.2006.Time Inc.

Corliss, Richard, "The Man in Black." Time 22 Sept. 2003: 1-6 Time Magazine.

2006. Time Inc.

Erlwine, Stephen, "Garth Brooks." 17 Nov. 2006


"Garth Brooks." 18 Nov. 2006


"Johnny Cash." 18 Nov. 2006 .

McPherson, Ian.2000. "The Salt of the Earth." 17 Nov. 2006


Painton, Priscilla, "Country Rocks." Time 30 Mar. 1992: 1-7 Time Magazine.2006.Time


Silverman. Stephen, "An Emotional Farewell to Johnny cash." People 16 Sept. 2003: 1

People Magazine.2006.Time Inc. "Garth Brooks Biography (1962- )." 16 Oct. 2006>. "Johnny Cash Biography (1932-2003)." 16 Oct. 2006>

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About the Author:

Author Daneille Scott is a psychology major student at Austin College a private liberal arts university in Sherman, Texas. Article Source: This article was published by permission. All rights reserved.  Daneille operates an online musical accessory store at:

Visit Daneille's store and her Guitar Information site.  Reproductions of this work is encouraged as long as this article source block remains in tact.
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