Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a big fan of country music. It's nothing personal. The reason is simple. It's the same reason I don't like brussel sprouts, okra, tomatoes and oysters: I just don't. It's about your 'taste' for food, music, climates, colors and cars. Some people like blues, some like rap, some like county. The latter is usually not for me.
But I DID have a GREAT time at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Tuesday night this week. You might be thinking, "Wow...Brian has serious issues. Does he not know that the Grand Ole Opry is pretty much all Country Music?" Actually, I do.
See, while the music wasn't necessarily my preferred style, what I appreciate even more than a bullseye genre of music is live music that is done with excellence. And I assure you that the Opry specializes in excellence! Every performer or group did three songs. Usually one was a big hit - either today or in a day gone by. Often one was a recently written song that they were hoping would make it big. But all three were done with the highest levels of skill. The singers were incredible. The musicians were off the charts good. And there wasn't a single band that wasn't awesomely good. Every one of them was incredible.
Truth be told, I didn't recognize any of the names. Not a single one. But I DID recognize one or two of their songs. Craig Morgan was there performing, "That's What I Love About Sunday" and we got to see Thompson Square do "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?". But I didn't know who those people were before Tuesday.
What I also found interesting was the alternating of eras. One group would be a traditional, old school country music band. The next would be new, modern country. Then they'd have a bluegrass group. Then another new, up and coming group. Back and forth it went between new and old, new and old.
This was fascinating to me, and it reminded me of an old German theologian named Jurgen Moltmann who famously said that for a revolution to last, it must "revere the sacred symbols of the past, all the while ruthlessly revising them." The Opry has thrived through multiple generations because it does exactly that. It doesn't discard the sacred symbols of country music. But it doesn't cling to them with unchanging stubbornness, either. It reveres it's past, but ruthlessly revises the symbols and traditions to make way for the future. To do otherwise is to become obsolete.
Excellence and Relevance are two things that the Opry has figured out, and it's why my time there was a great treat - a true gift - even if it was Country Music!