From Miss Rosen’s review of “Honky Tonk” for CRAVE:
The late songwriter Harland Howard, who penned Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces” and Ray Charles’ “Busted,” was once asked what makes a great country song. “Three chords and the truth,” Howard said, as succinct as the music he wrote. Like all things country, the very best doesn’t overly complicate itself: simplicity is the heart and soul of the people, and their music reflects this through and through.
But it’s not mere simplicity, in the sense of “Less is more.” Rather, it is the precise ability to speak to the people on their own terms. Nothing fancy or sophisticated, no need for the trappings of bourgeois aspirations of elitist status or wealth. Country is, in the truest sense, the culture of the folk.
Country music in America comes from the heartland, from the great fly over states that people on both coasts are quick to disregard. But deep in this landscape, the funky twang is set free, and it travels beyond the region, from sea to shining sea. This sensibility can be seen in the new exhibition, Henry Horenstein: Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Music on view at the Newport Art Museum in Newport, RI, now through September 10, 2017.