What happened to the Western in country & western?

Listener Michael Fulks writes us to say:

“Just heard the song Let’s Put the Western Back in Country by Joni Harms. I can’t say enough how I agree with the sentiment. When was the last time you heard a song, songwriter, singer/group that had any ties to the west on a commercial Country/Western Station? I think I am about the same age as Jim and grew up in Phoenix and remember the local CW station playing a good amount of material that was rooted in the west, sometimes with a little Mexican influence thrown in. We had “westerns” on TV and the silver screen. And then someone must have thought we all dropped off into the ocean. (I have met people who when they say “the west” they mean Ohio.) Now we rarely hear country music with our accents, sensibilities, coming from our lives or our history. They sure try to look like they belong in the saddle or on a ranch, with their cowboy hats and boots, but it quickly becomes apparent that it is only a facade. I would like to meet up with others who abandoned Country and Western because it lost the rich heritage of the west, ignored the superb talent available here, and marginalized us as listeners. Kudos to folkalley.com for playing some good ‘ole western music once and while.”

What about you? When I was living in Atlanta, we listened to a country station because they would play Patsy Cline right up against Randy Travis. But that was years ago and the music world is a mighty different place. Is it better or worse that C&W has morphed into “hot” country? If a more focused format draws higher numbers, isn’t the music serving more people, even if the playlist is much less diversafied?

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