Meade Skelton is Good Country...
This appears to be a legitimate review of Meade's work written by a Tumblr Fan
So a while back, I wrote a little about why I think Johnny Cash doesn’t fall as squarely into that constantly-evoked realm of “good country” as folks like to pretend. So, what is good country? Two words: Meade Skelton.
I’d like to start by explicating what I don’t like about Meade. Meade has a lousy sense of politics and history. He bought into the moonlight and magnolias image of Gone with the Wind while all decent people were hoping that the enslaved folks on the O’Hara plantation would pull a Nat Turner by the novel’s end. As a Virginian, Meade’s politics seriously do bother me and yet, as a Virginian, there is a great appeal to the rest of his act that almost redeems him.
Meade Skelton’s music is a retreat from outlaw country’s transpatial swagger and stereotyped posturing. Meade presents country identity has being both suburban (“My Loudoun County Home”) and urban (any of his marvelous songs about Richmond), and imbues the locales in the songs with qualities external to his control. I think that’s what’s so fascinating about agency in non-outlaw singers’ music— while masculinity is typically conflated with agency and power, non-outlaw country shows a meeker masculinity where the narrator is more likely to be acted upon than to independently act. Indeed, one can’t even imagine the words, “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die”; instead Skelton is busy at work documenting the day-to-day interactions between the individual and his/her surroundings, from the seemingly ancient elements of RVA to the aisles of Meade’s beloved now-defunct grocery chain, Ukrop’s.
Furthermore, Meade is careful not to overuse twang and honky-tonk elements in his music. His singing voice and piano skills evoke the countrypolitan sound far more than Hank, Jr.-style cowboy kitsch. Even alt-country (hell, especially alt-country) hinges on an anemic view of what does and does not fit into the ambit of country music. Meade has reached deep into the genre’s history and has found a smooth, quirky sound which attempts to dilate the narrowing boundaries of country. His reimagining of country allows him to trade in the themes of love, loss, and liquor for location and social awkwardness.
Meade isn’t the second-coming of Faron Young, nor is he a competent scholar of Southern history, but he is a Virginia original who is unafraid to buck the trends of modern country, and I respect him for that. Not to mention that “Alcohol is Poison” is the best drinking song I’ve yet found.