MUSICnThis Land Is MynSunshinenby Janet Scott BarlownIknow three people (and if I alonenknow three, there must be more ofnthem out there) who think “This LandnIs Your Land” is a country song — andnone of the three sings it to the tune ofn”You Are My Sunshine.” Now, it’s anfact that Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggsnonce recorded “This Land Is YournLand”; and it’s true that the result wasncountry music. But that says nothingnabout the song itself, because Flatt andnScruggs would have made “Everything’snComing Up Roses” result inncountry music (“purtain up, light thenlights . . .” Give it the high lonesome,nboys).nThis kind of self-expanding discussionncan obsess country music fans.n(“Okay,” they say to one another, “ifnyou couldn’t have it all in one package,nwould you rather hear Tony Bennettnsinging ‘Cold Cold Heart’ or WillienNelson singing ‘Stardust’?”) It can alsonbore the socks off of everyone else. So Inguess it’s no surprise that my threenfriends, who are anything but obsessednabout this subject, take a sweepingnapproach. They assume that any songnwith lyrics about highways and forestsn52/CHRONICLESnVITAL SIGNSnand golden valleys — or any melodynthat can be confused with “You Are MynSunshine” — just naturally has somenconnection someplace to the musicalnsensibilities of, say. Hank Williams.nTalk about cultural illiteracy. The factnis, Hank Williams would not havenwritten or sung “This Land Is YournLand,” because Hank Williams wasnbusy doing what the creation of “ColdnCold Heart,” “Your Cheating Heart,”nand “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still InnLove With You” required: he wasngoing all to hell over Miss Audrey.nI guess there is a certain logic behindnthe assumption that music that originatednlargely with and for people of thenland must include celebrations of thenland. But it really isn’t so, and thenevidence that it isn’t extends far beyondnthe musical legacy of Hank Williams.nIf you leave out all the songsnabout the old homeplace (which arenactually songs about Mama, whichnmeans their real subject is guilt) andnforget the tributes to the hills of Kentucky,nTennessee, Carolina, and “Virginny”n(which, past their titles, arenusually guilt-ridden tributes to Mama),nyou are left with little in country music,nexcept maybe a few cowboy songs, thatneven resembles a celebration of thenland.nThe Miss Audreys of the Southnaside, why this dearth of “land music”?nMaybe it’s because people close to thenland — farmers, migrants, miners —nwhile historically given to songs aboutnon-the-job misery, are no more inclinednthan dentists or shoe salesmennto musically immortalize their actualnplace of business. Maybe it’s becausencountry music abandoned even thenquasi-land subject matter—the home-nMama-Virginny stuff—after thennorthward migration of rural Southernnpopulations following World War II.n(How many country boys wanted tonhear “Mother’s Not Dead, She’s OnlynSleeping” in a Detroit tavern on anFriday night after a week on the assemblynline at the local CM plant?) Ornmaybe it’s just because country musicnattaches itself securely only to verynnnlarge or very narrow themes: humannsorrows, remorse, and yearning; goodtiming,ntwo-timing, and drinking.nThe real references to the land inncountry music are to the land “on thenother side” — the promised land, thencelestial shore, glory land (the properncountry pronunciation of which isnglow-ry land, just as the proper pronunciationnof on is own, and this is onenof the reasons it’s such fun to listen toncountry gospel singers — they are alwaysn”heading own to glow-ry”).nMy very first musical memory is of ansong about this other land, the land ofnpromise. My father had a recording ofn”Camping in Canaan’s Land” bynCharlie Monroe, Bill’s brother. Longnbefore I was old enough to understandnthat the song’s references were biblical,nI had heard it countless times and hadnonly two thoughts about it: I loved it,nand it gave me the creeps. It is a gift tonsound mystical while singing at breaknecknspeed, to set feet a-tapping whilenminds are seized by spectral humannsounds and unearthly lyrical images.nThe Monroe brothers had that gift. Onn”Camping in Canaan’s Land,” oldnCharlie, just as fast as he could managenit, sang of traveling “far over hills andnvalleys and across the desert sands” to anplace of “wondrous beauty grand.”nThat was about all I could understand,nbut it was enough to give me a mostnpleasant case of the shivers.nI’ve spent years trying to untanglenall the words to “Camping in Canaan’snLand,” and have even gone so far as tonapply my mind to a Ralph Stanleynrendition of the song. That was annespecially pointless exercise, becausenanyone familiar with bluegrass musicnknows that if you are trying to deciphernone of the Monroe brothers you don’tnturn to Ralph Stanley, who can singnfaster {and slower) than any humannbeing alive. This is what Ralph Stanleynand the Clinch Mountain Boys have inncommon with heavy metal groups:nwhen the uninitiated first hear thenperformance of either, they invariablynblurt, “What on earth are they say-ningi 7″n