As long as I've been listening to country music, which includes my pre-country music period (my mom and dad's music) as well as my three-decade obsession, from approximately 1967 to 1999; I've heard two criticisms: country music is soooo corny and country music is too depressing.
I never found country music depressing. A track by Little Texas never once made me consider killing myself. Of course there are sad country songs -- country music is just like life; sometimes we're happy; other times wistful. Sometimes we feel giddy and silly; ready to break into a dork dance. And sometimes our hearts are broken.
The times when I've been sad, I wanted music to wallow in. Crying is sorely underrated. Right after my dad died, I sat in my room and played Ray Price's "Soft Rain" over and over and over. The grief I couldn't put into words, Ray did, and perfectly.
I don't know what those judgmental people are listening to, but obviously not the country music I know. In the eighties and nineties country music was glorious, even the sad songs.
This is ostensibly a sad song. Does it sound sad?
If it's got a good beat and one can two-step to it, sad or not, it's happy. At least it makes me feel happy.
And, you know, everyone in country music is not heartbroken:
Sometimes they are falling in love and it's just now hit them:
As a country music historian, I know there are (old) songs that are frankly, maudlin, or at least cheesy. Do you like every rock song every recorded? Don't judge a whole genre of music by "I Wish I Was A Teddy Bear" and "Honey". In my teens and pre-teens, I felt obliged to defend the bad country songs, because people were so vociferous in their hatred. "Folsom Prison Blues? Yea, really great with that chunka-chunka guitar." Guess what? I didn't like that song, either. I also didn't like Rose Garden, but had I named a good country song, I would have gotten quizzical stares, because all those people knew was what was played on Top 40 radio.
I wasn't a top forty kind of gal. I had taste; not that it mattered one whit to anyone but me. But that's okay, actually. When it comes to music, I only need to be true to myself.
And, no. Country music is not depressing. Unless you want it to be.