What in the heck do you mean by "Americana"?

There's a style of music that is being called Americana these days. Although I'd have to say a majority of recordings that I own (other than jazz) fall into this rough category, and have for years predating the invention of the term, I think the name itself is dumb. Here's why.

What would I call it instead? I've seen the terms roots rock, alt-country, y'all'ternative, Western Beat, and so forth. I think all these terms are fairly lame.

What's really going on, it seems to me, is a musical cross-pollination resulting in the old barriers between what was rock versus pop versus country versus folk versus singer-songwriter being broken down. About all that you can say about this style of music is that it accepts electric instruments and drums, and that there is a renewed emphasis on intelligent lyrics. (Hey, not that there aren't a number of great rock songs about you and me in the back seat of my car, baby, but you've got to admit that any, e.g., 45-year-old performer who hasn't moved past that stage, is either staring to look pretty sheepish on stage, or at least, ought to.)

Frankly, I don't believe that our musical tastes necessarily ought to get frozen in our teens and early 20s, and all we do after that is buy recordings from the same artists we already know.

But, of course, with most people, that's exactly what happens. It's worth asking why this is.

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Last updated Wed Jul 25 21:36:44 GMT 2001 .