Sep. 9th, 2017

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Just read that Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry died in a helicopter crash.

There was a deeply unsettled push and pull in Montgomery Gentry between rejection and rapprochement, standing their ground and reaching beyond it. Their sound gave an appealing glisten to outlaw country, what I inarticulately describe as "adding a lot of color." Of course "color," as in black and white, as in potential racism, is what scared me in them but it also seemed to scare them, in complex ways. Obviously I'm not exactly the "hip-hop mess" they were trying to brush off in "She Couldn't Change Me," but inexactly I kind of am and so are you.* When the woman returns at the end of the song, how much from the outside does she bring with her? Are they merely winning her over or are they genuinely taking her in? In any event, it was this song of theirs that pulled me in, not just to their music but to the country genre itself. I'd listened before but never really tried to grapple, never was willing to feel it so much.

Troy had the gentler voice and the gentler look. Even though "She Couldn't Change Me" uses Eddie's dark and apparently implacable singing, Troy is the face of the video, so becomes the face of acceptance. The ending is sweet, where he embellishes her colors rather than trying to paint them over.



And of course a few years after "She Couldn't Change Me" was "Some People Change," which may seem only a gesture, but gestures matter. Anyway, there's always the longing for something more, elder wisdom, God, something more feminine, rejected parents. They never sat easy.



That said, as I let my country listening drift away in the '10s I let Montgomery Gentry drift away too. I'm not really on Facebook, but I do check in to see what Dave is up to. I once posted 6 or 7 music favorites, including Montgomery Gentry, so the Facebook algorithm puts Montgomery Gentry up on my news feed.** The duo (on Facebook, anyway) treated the election as if it didn't exist, no mention of Charlottesville, and so on. Probably just playing it safe, but one can always imagine they didn't talk up Trump because they actually couldn't stomach Trump's racism, despite their being the kind of people he was claiming to stand for. —Well, one can do some research, too, which I haven't. Perhaps I'll catch up someday, if I'm not too scared. They made the most reliably good music of the country '00s, the deepest social-emotional poetry, and I put their album Carrying On number two on my albums of the decade list (all genres). Notice the double meaning of "carrying on," which is both holding on, persevering, on the one hand, and causing a ruckus, creating a scene, continuing on in a disruptive or improper manner, on the other.

This is where I wrote about them in the Voice, sliding around, trying to find and lose my own feet:

https://www.villagevoice.com/2001/07/17/d-dang-a-dang-me

https://www.villagevoice.com/2002/12/24/the-onslaught (Ctrl-f "c&w whiners")

*Notice how narrow I expect the readership for this post to be, my saying "so are you" with such confidence.

**The Kinks too. So Dave Davies and Ray Davies and Dave Moore and Montgomery Gentry are my window into the Facebook world.

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