Outlaw Country

Is this an actual genre or just a marketing term?

By Deane Barker

It’s an actual genre. The “outlaw” part comes from the fact that it was pioneered by artists that worked outside of Nashville, mainly in the 70s.

From an article at Holler:

The term was potentially coined in an article by music critic Dave Hickey, to describe artists who opposed the commercial and creative control of Nashville’s recording industry.

For many, it would be considered “traditional country,” meaning it’s not contemporary country (however, some would consider the country music of the 50s and 60s as “traditional”).

Today, it likely refers more to a time period than any particular style or origination. To say you play “outlaw country” is to say you do not play contemporary country.

Why I Looked It Up

I had always thought it was just a marketing term used by country radio stations. But then I saw a channel for “Outlaw Country” on Pandora, which got me thinking it was a genre. I listened to it, and it was definitely older than the country I usually listen to (I remember a Hank Williams Jr. song, for example).

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