In the world of retail one has to serve what I imagine is a reasonably representative cross-section of society. So you get your lovely folks, and you get your bastards. Yesterday I had the deep displeasure of serving (or rather trying to serve) a woman falling firmly into the latter category, and in order to move on from the encounter I feel the need to vent here!
"A lovely store, but I really must take exception to the ridiculous inclusion of Nanci Griffith in the country section," she snorted, approaching the counter with her purchase yet looking all about her rather than addressing my boss Steve or I directly. I took one look at this woman and hated her instantly. We have all met these people who inexplicably wind us up without rhyme or reason before they say a single word, and even without her comment one glance whence it came confirmed this woman was one of mine. She simply had that look and a lofty, superior air, what with her outraged eyes with pin-prick pupils, and half-eye glasses perched right on the very tip of her nose like a school ma'am. "Punch, kick, gouge," I thought.
"Oh, why is that?" I enquired. "Well, she's a bluegrass artist, of course!" proclaimed the evidently Stupid Woman. "No, she isn't," I responded, hackles rising. "Yes, she is," Evil Woman snapped back. Sensing Steve's concern and an almighty ruck ahoy, I put my hands up and said," Well, I beg to differ, so let's leave it there." "She hasn't got a country voice; she has a bluegrass voice," continued Imbecile Woman, with real 'authority' on the subject in her tone.
At this juncture, the old adage of the customer always being right burning hot in my brain, I simply could not resist but pile in once more. "If anything, if you want to get pedantic, Nanci Griffith is a folk artist, so neither a country or bluegrass artist," I countered, "but she is most associated with, and appreciated by, the world of country music. Besides, the defining factor of bluegrass is the banjo, and there's not a lot of fiery banjo in Nanci's music, eh?" The woman looked aghast, especially when her pleasant husband piped in and said, "Aha, he's got you! Please forgive my wife...she's rather opinionated!" Perhaps unwisely, I laughed and said, "Yes, I can see that!"
Anyway, we batted opinions back and forth in an increasingly heated manner as Steve twitched behind the counter, then the woman spat, "Anyway, I have no doubt there is only one person present who was born in Appalachia, and that would be ME! I've been listening to bluegrass my whole life, and Nanci Griffith is bluegrass!" "Okay, fair enough," I sighed in mock resignation, understanding the debate was headed nowhere as she walked out of the store, leaving her embarrassed husband to pay.
I later pictured her in my mind, still all in a tizzy (like I am today), cursing my name and ignorance of the bluegrass giants to her exasperasted, long-suffering hubby, wondering how the hell I got a job in a music store (all those decades ago). I don't want to come across as an archetypal, "Hi-Fidelity"-esque record store asshole or smug music snob, but I know my country music, and I know my bluegrass, and I know that Nanci Griffith is categorically not, nor has she ever been, the latter. When entirely necessary I will bend over and take one in the name of a quiet life, but when confronted with such arrogance, even in a working situation, I will always speak up. So...
The opening paragraph of AllMusic's entry for Nanci Griffith:
"Straddling the fine line between folk and country...has become as well-known for her brilliant, confessional songwriting as her beautiful voice. A self-styled "folkabilly" singer... began as a kindergarten teacher and occasional folksinger. The country scene took her to heart in the mid-'80s, giving her a reputation as a quality songwriter... etc."
Genres: Country, folk, pop/rock
Styles: Contemporary folk, country-folk, progressive country, singer-songwriter, contemporary country
I don't see too much evidence of bluegrass categorization there, do you? So, f*** you lady!