We can’t look away. Like a hillside full of picnickers at a Civil War bloodbath, or a beer-swilling teen watching a train hit a semi, we can’t believe the skill with which Nashville is appropriating rock ‘n’ roll. Brad Paisley? Toby Keith? Tim McGraw? These titans of candy-apple trash have recycled every thought, every sentiment, every classic lick while plowing through rock history like Sherman on the road to Atlanta. And Kid Rock? After the killers do their work, the vultures pick the bones clean.
Montgomery Gentry, a rootsy, harmony-driven duo with some tasty guitar playing, currently has a smash single called “Roll with Me.” This murderous pastiche somehow evokes the Allman Brothers, The Guess Who, Molly Hatchet, and — via “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” — Bob Dylan. At first it sounds winning. But ultimately it nauseates — anthemic rock by numbers, spiritual truth for lovers of easy answers.
As Gertrude Stein put it, there is no “there” there.
It isn’t country music. It’s the appropriation of rock by songwriters and producers who are cleverer by half than modern-rock artists. And they’re taking the lunch money. Pull up a seat, try the Texas pulled pork.