Country music has its own appeal

Kevin Wilson

I don’t listen to country music.

OK, that’s a lie. I have four country songs on my mp3 player, by four artists (guess one and I’ll owe you a Coke). Since my player’s got about 5,000 tracks, that’s a 99.93 percent truthful statement.

I may joke every so often to my friends that they listen to bad music, but I never really try to convert them. If your music sounds good to you, and we’re not going on a cross-country car ride today, what does it matter what I think about it?

That’s that attitude I took into Friday, when I got a chance to sit down with local artist Will Banister for a Sunday Q&A. Banister’s taking off to London for the Country Music Festival at Wembley Stadium. There’s a send-off party for him 10 a.m. today at the Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce.

My brief conversation with Banister naturally turned to country music, and he and manager Johnny Mulhair made sure to ask what kind of country music I liked — not pushy, mind you; just inquisitive.

“I don’t listen to country music,” I said, “but I understand why other people do.”

They said they’d try to change that, and made sure to give me a promo copy of his “Turned Her on to Country” CD when we finished up.

I almost did a 180 when I asked what his favorite Will Banister song was. His answer: “I Hate Santa Fe.”

I feared for the direction of my interview. “Is this,” I thought, “going to be some kind of political statement on how those liberals in Santa Fe don’t know anything?”

I was glad to be wrong. Santa Fe was where his then-girlfriend, and current wife, was visiting family. It was just the place where she was and he wasn’t. He hates Santa Fe, but he’s going there at the end, I discovered when I took a listen.

I don’t hate Santa Fe. But I hate Townsend, Mont. I hate El Paso, too. Same for Albuquerque, New York City, Los Angeles, Lubbock and so on. In Banister’s context, how many cities do you hate?

In his song, “Good Mourning,” rapper Talib Kweli says, “Just because no one can understand how you speak … don’t necessarily mean that what you (are) saying is deep.” I think the inverse is true. Banister may be plain-spoken in his songs, but that doesn’t mean that what he’s saying is automatically a simple concept. I look forward to hearing what he sings about as his career takes him around the world.

I’m still not turned on to country. But I haven’t ejected the CD from my car player yet, and the mp3 player’s going to have a few more country tracks when I do eject it.

The percentages may change slightly, but I still don’t listen to country music. But thanks to Friday, I understand it a little more.