Good country songs are so rare these days. It’s all pop anymore.

Good country songs are so rare these days. It’s all pop anymore.

At least I think it’s pop. I’m not really sure what you call it when Luke Bryan or Jason Aldean records his 300th song about partyin’, or when Carrie Underwood screams into the mic like she’s crowning, or anytime Brad Paisley does, well, anything at all; but it’s not country music. I know that much.

Country music is supposed to be twang, not clang. It’s supposed to be about love and love lost — more akin to blues than rock ‘n’ roll. The only "metal" influence should be a steel guitar. Country singers are supposed to sing about whiskey, not beer. Beer is for city folk who can’t handle their spirits. These truths should be self-evident to any person who calls himself a country singer.

Since moving to the South, I’ve discovered "Texas Country," which, as far as I can tell, is a direct response to all of the above. It’s certainly a step in the right direction from the Nashville crowd, but I think much of it fails to live up to the reputation of its genre.

I find myself still drawn to the "old masters" of country: Willie, Waylon, Hank Sr., David Allan Coe, Johnny Cash and their cohort.

Here’s Coe in a perfect turn of verse: "The only thing I can hold onto/ is this bottle in my hand./ I know I’ll never have to share it/ with any other man."

By way of comparison, here’s Paisley’s ode to libations: "I’ll bet you a drink or or two/ that I can make you/ put that lampshade on your head."

This is me shaking my head, sans lampshade. A song about alcohol per se isn’t country music; it’s declarative drivel with accompaniment. The song by Coe doesn’t celebrate the drink; it wallows in it.

That’s country music. It uses the language and symbols of small town life to explore universal themes that make the songs speak to us on a more profound level. But somehow that depth has been lost as the genre has evolved.

Thankfully, good music is available to us regardless of when it was recorded. That’s why "Folsom Prison Blues" has an eternal spot on my iPod, right alongside songs from The Rolling Stones, Dr. Dre and the Eagles.

I wonder how many future iPods will have a copy of Luke Bryan’s "Country Girl (Shake it for Me)." I’m guessing not many.

Happy birthday Wednesday to Jean Parsons of Sadler; Lindsay Mathis and Justin Monroe, both of Bells; Gordon Ray Duke, Jerry Don Guess, Stephanie May, Edward Jessie Delphin, Shirley Henderson, Tra’Davian Taylor and Melinda Williams, all of Sherman; Shirley Hooker of Denison; Marta Beck Cole of McKinney; Cheyenne Price of Bonham; Mary Casteel Bauer.

Happy anniversary Wednesday to Bryan and Kcee Blevins of Frisco, 9 years.