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What's the Bluegrass Music Lyrics Grade Level Score?

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Bluegrass Lyric Grade LevelIn the recent couple of weeks there have been postings around the internet relating to the education level of pop lyrics, pop country lyrics and other music. One such article ( indicates that Pop Country is in the 3rd Grade elementary school realm. I know it wasn't all this way but then, country music has changed a lot over the past couple of decades.

Bluegrass music is fortunate to have amazing songwriters who write with passion and elaborate quite well. Many hold post graduate degrees and have been writing songs for a long time. Tim Stafford recently was recognized, Brink Brinkman is alwaysf in the limelight as is Donna Hughes, Louisa Branscom and a host of others. Tom T and Dixie Hall were certainly in the game recently and the traditional songwriters such as Larry Cordle, Allen Mills, James King, Harley Allen and a whole host of others -- way too many to mention.

Bluegrass has always had wonderful songwriters from hard core traditionalists to gospel to Sam Bush's New Grass to whatever. Bluegrass lyrics have told stories, shared ballads, true to life but almost always, carefully worded lyrics are a part of the bluegrass song foundation.

So, why are some styles of music not following the dumbing down that other styles are suffering from? Is it the audience education level? Songwriter education level? What? I realize that bluegrass doesn't share the same culture of other styles. You probably will never see a nude bluegrasser on a wrecking ball licking a hammer. What you will see are professional artists pouring their emotion filled hearts out performance after performance of songs with a higher lyric grade level.

Be thankful that bluegrass lyrics are where they are. That helps the genre in its ability to communicate more effectively and keeps the music interesting. One thing that the low grade level styles share is that much of their music all sounds the same. Add to that the same studio musicians are on all the albums further making them sound even more the same. Bluegrass doesn't have that disease. Bluegrass albums are usually something new and refreshing in the style -- even when an album stretches the boundaries.

As the youth in bluegrass mature into the music, I hope they continue to strive for high standard in lyric writing. It is an honorable achievement to do so. The youth are the future of bluegrass and if bluegrass is to continue with its quality songwriting, the youth will have to carry that torch.

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