Listen to this song to settle a disagreement

It’s called Black Haired Girl by Jesse Malin. It’s sort of Springsteen-esque

Anyway, I think it has some significant country influence in it and my friend says there is no country influence whatsoever - it's a pure rock song.

He knows WAY more about music - chord progressions, evolution of music, etc, so I don’t really have the tools to argue more than, “I can hear some country in there.”

Anyway, I’m interested in a casual Yes/No opinion to see if I’m way off base, but also interested in ‘proof’ either way.

Thanks for any help!

Can’t prove it (because I’m not a musician) but I know when I hear it, and this has some serious country music leaning twang going on. Mostly (but not entirely) it’s in the vocal delivery - the guy has a country drawl, at least to my ear.

I hear no country in this, really; to me, it’s just a big slab o’ meat and potatoes rock and roll (think Mellencamp, seasoned with a pinch or two of BuckCherry).

Not looking for a fight, but there is NO trace of “country” in that song. The singer’s diction isn’t very good, but he isn’t “singing through his nose,” and there isn’t any “country” instrumentation I can detect.

I don’t hear much country, apart from a slight twang in the guy’s voice. That’s straight rock.

That’s pretty much what I was going to say.

a land feature metaphor does not make it a country song.

Not a country song, instrumentation or delivery… but I kinda see why the OP might think so. Just listen to “country” radio for a bit. Most of what is on would have been considered straight-up rock music two decades ago. Sometimes a bit of banjo or fiddle is present, but that doesn’t make it country music.

And I’m not saying any of that in a judgmental way (good vs. bad). I like rock, I like country and I like blues, if it’s good. But I’m not hearing country in the linked song.

He’s got a bit of a southern accent, which you don’t often hear in rock, not even Southern Rock, but pretty much everything about the song is straight out rock.

(Also seems to be lifting pretty blatantly from Brown Eyed Girl in the vocal melody…)

This sounds like a weaselly answer, but…

I don’t know who Jesse Malin is. I can honestly say I’ve never heard of him. I don’t know where he’s from or what kind of music he’s associated with.

Does he sound “country” to me? A LITTLE, but only in a second-hand sense. What I mean is, Fifties rock almost ALWAYS had at least a little bit of a country feel to it. After all, rock & roll evolved in large part out of country music. And any act or band that tries to do straight-ahead roots-rock is likely to have a little bit of the country sound that Elvis, Jerry Lee, Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers Holly came by naturally.

Bob Seger is neither a Southerner nor a country boy (he’s from Detroit), but a lot of his songs have a country feel nonetheless.

Same with Springsteen- he’s no Southerner and he’s no country boy, but there’s an unmistakeable country feel to some of his songs.

Same with John Fogerty- he’s from the San Francisco Bay area, but his songs always felt country, didn’t they?

Jesse Malin strikes me as a guy who’s trying to imitate Seger, Springsteen and Fogarty (as well as, probably, John Mellencamp and Tom Petty), which means the song has a little bit of a second-hand country feel to it.

That’s pretty much straight roots-rock with a southern accent. Reminds me of a slightly rockier Tom Petty. I’ve heard a bit of Jesse Malin before but not that song, that I recall.

That said, his singing style is similar to that of some country-rock stuff, but in that stuff the singing is often the “rock” part.


This is breaking down pretty much exactly as my friend and I ended up.

The people who have ‘opinions’ hear the country and the people with ‘proof’ don’t.

Keep it coming!

I think the bridge and the chorus would not be completely out of place on some country stations. Much country is essentially rock with countrified affectations, or vice-versa. Not surprising, as the tw genres are very closely related.

Country is quite often very musically simple, not a lot of complexity in the lyrics, melodies, or instrumentation, sung with a twang. For me, this song fits. What it lacks is specific “country” instrumentation such as a fiddle or steel guitar, to serve as an identifier.

Doesn’t sound country at all, to me. It just sounds like a bad 80s rock song.

I’m betting that the 2 or 3 people who identify this with country listen to almost no country music.

Looks like Malin is considered to be part of the “alt country” scene, in at least some of his work: And at least one of the collaborators on the album this song came from is also from that scene. If you look at the “similar artists” links above, you’ll find lots of people in alternative country.

The line between various genres is a blurry one, and people are assigned to sides of the divide based on how they self-identify as well as the music itself, bias, and tradition.

It’s country in the sense that rock music is pretty much a blend of country & blues. This one leans a bit more country, and, listening to modern country stations, I could see with a bit of a even more country-twang and add a fiddle or something to it, and it’s a “modern country” song. That said, off-hand, I would have just called it straight ahead pop rock. Sounds like generic mid-90s to mid-00s era mainstream rock to me.

I would say this version is not country but I would not be surprised if a country act covered it. It is the style of current pop-country – he just doesn’t deliver it that way.

Country or no, in the end, I dug the song.

So there’s that.

No country. The only similarity to country in this song is due to how much country sounds like rock these days. Really, the only difference in the mainstream of the genres is the accent of the singer. It’s ridiculous.

Thankfully, there are still a handful of true country acts out there. You can recognize them because they sound nothing like the clip in the OP.