Uncle Sarge Defends Country Music



I expected to offend Lawrence Welk fans -- both of them -- but instead I stirred up a Rim country original who goes by the nom de plume "Uncle Sarge."

It began ever so innocently last Aug. 6 with an "Around the Rim Country" column headlined "STUPIDITY stages comeback." In it, I wrote, "an inordinate number of country-western music fans despite the fact that the genre has been scientifically proven to kill brain cells at a rate double that of other types of music -- except rap, the unchallenged brain-cell killing champion of all time, surpassing even Lawrence Welk."

Uncle Sarge took exception in a letter addressed to the editor of the Payson Roundup and the program director of KMOG radio. In it, he berated me for a number of failures, to wit: 1) Failure to make a "significant comparative analysis." 2) Failure to mention what kind of music I would prefer to hear. 3) Failure to possess a sense of timing by airing my country-western diatribe at a time when the rodeo was in town. 4) Failure to note that every juke box in town, "nay in the southwest USA, bears the C&W flavor." 5) Failure to adapt to a multi-cultural environment. 6) Failure to identify the source of my scientific study.

"There seems to be a recent epidemic of ‘intellectual sophistication' blowing through," Uncle Sarge closed.

If the person known as Uncle Sarge is still alive (because, as we all know, country-western fans are a dying breed, and because I took forever to get to his letter and nobody lives forever), I would like to take this opportunity to respond.

Dear Uncle Sarge:

I was especially impressed with the fact that you are not only literate, but also clever and witty -- this despite the fact that you are an avowed country-western fan. You are a credit to your breed.

Just kidding, Uncle Sarge.

But seriously, you do make some valid points, which I, in the interest of fairness, mentioned above. Now, in the interest of getting even, I would like to address each of those points on an individual basis:

  • You are right about my failure to make a significant comparative analysis. To do so would require that all those things being comparatively analyzed be significant, but I have yet to see any significance to country songs like "Swingin.'"
  • As to what kind of music I would prefer to hear, my answer is anything, anything at all except opera. I will concede that country-western is infinitely preferable to hearing the fat lady sing.
  • Yes, I did air my diatribe while rodeo was in town, primarily because as a courageous journalist I am willing to stand bravely against the mightiest opposition. Or maybe because I'm really stupid.
  • You are absolutely right about the flavor of juke boxes in the Southwest, and I generally believe in that adage, "When in Rome do as the Romans" (who, history books tell us, played country-western music to incense the lions before turning them loose on the Christians). In this case, however, I am making an exception. We have mountain lions in this neck of the woods and I, for one, don't want to tick them off.
  • The part in your letter about our "multi-cultural environment" was my favorite. I can only assume you are referring to such Rim country cultures as Transplanted Californians, Retired Qwest Employees, Pleasure Bowlers, and White Pick-up Truck Owners Who Wear Payson Concrete & Materials caps. I don't have a problem with these cultures, except maybe the Californians.
  • Finally, there's my failure to identify the source of my scientific study. All I can say is, "Guilty again." The best way to make your point about anything others may disagree with is to say, "They did a study." It's amazing how seldom anybody questions a statement like that by saying, "Who did a study?"

And finally, Uncle Sarge, allow me to respond to your comment about a "recent epidemic of ‘intellectual sophistication' blowing through." I think what you're smelling is that pile of old, rotting country-western songs stacked up in the alley behind KMOG.

In conclusion, thanks for writing, Uncle Sarge.

Your pen pal, Jim

P.S. Since when do real country-western fans refer to cafes and saloons as bistros and distilleries as you do in your letter? Talk about intellectual sophistication.

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