Is Dixie rising in Westchester and Connecticut? Every time I turn the radio on these days, I wonder. After all, on the public airwaves in the suburban ring around New York, we’re accustomed to Top 40 pop, album rock, old standards—and even New Rochelle-based WVOX (1460 AM), which broadcasts pure community radio full of talk shows with local gadflies as hosts.
But country music?
Stranger things have happened. Or maybe not. Out of Mount Kisco, WFAF (106.3 FM), simulcasting on WDBY 105.5 FM in Danbury, has just gone country. Not that Mt. Kisco and Danbury are a little more rock n’ roll…but country? Really?
Country is, to be certain, the music of the American land at large. But with its musical laments for a simpler past and narratives of lost girls, as well as remembrances of horses and pick-up trucks past, is it really right for us?
Can you see residents of our gilded little land humming along to lyrics about lonesome souls working as ranch hands or long-haul truckers passing by scraping tumbleweed under prairie moons?
For God’s sake, we’re talking Westchester and Connecticut here, where the closest we come to a rodeo is Greenwich Ave., Greenwich’s own sloping version of Rodeo Drive.
Maybe it’s just me, but Brad Paisley seems a curious soundtrack for our bastions of high net worth and SAT scores: “It ain't hip to sing about tractors, trucks and little towns or mama/Yeah that might be true/But this is country music, and we do.”
But maybe I’m wrong as anyone since Hank Williams refused to let his dear Savior in. Perhaps Dixie can rise in the leafy well-to-do suburbs. After all, in listening to 106.3 nonstop the last couple of weeks, I’ve been taken by the songs about misgiven affection, self-imposed lucklessness and roads carelessly traveled. Maybe my musical tastes have even evolved…or devolved, depending on how you see it.
The point is that I’m undecided. Can Dixie rise on the airwaves here? That might depend on whether the music can speak directly to our local population and its concerns.
Toward that end, I want to run an experiment in the form of a contest. In the space below, I want you to write country lyrics adapted for our local landscape of strivers and nightmare youth athletic coaches. Think Metro North instead of freight trains, but—well, you get the idea. Post the lyrics here and within a week I’ll name a winner, for whom I will bake a relatively authentic (and admittedly mediocre) pecan pie.
Or, I can sing for you. I’d be willing, even though I’m as atonal as they come. But put me under the prairie moon with that Scarsdale dirt beneath my feet and a gui-tar in my hand…
Marek Fuchs is the author of "A Cold-Blooded Business," the true story of a murderer, from Westchester, who almost got away with it. His upcoming book on volunteer firefighting across America, “Local Heroes,” is due out this year. He wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column about life in Westchester for six years and teaches non-fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville. Follow him on Twitter: @MarekFuchs.