**Groups who will, quite possibly, be offended are (in no particular order): Americans, Southern Baptists, People with Overly Sensitive &/or Limited Musical Sensibilities, People Expecting This Post to be a Work of Literary Genius &/or Literary Adequacy.
"Why I Think Country Music is Awesome"
I think country music is awesome because... country music is awesome. It really really is.
Because our dad was/still is a fan of old school country, that's what my brother, sister and I grew up listening to. George and Tammy, Willie and Waylon, Conway and Loretta, Charley Pride, Tom T Hall, Kenny Rogers and Tanya Tucker all worked together to provide the soundtrack for our many many family road trips or any party my parents threw. Country was pretty much everywhere in our little world. My dad was/is country right down to the tips of his shiny "pointy-toed boots". My cousins' dog and cat were named Willie and Waylon and I don't know how many times my sister and I belted out "Delta Dawn" or "Lucille" at the top of our lungs. If you feel so inclined, just click on those names highlighted in blue for an auditory trip down my memory lane.
As big a role that country music played in my early life, as soon as I was allowed to sit in the front seat... and could reach the knobs on the radio ...and could fend off the hand slaps dealt by whichever parent was driving.... I discovered and experimented with non-country stations. My musical preferences veered wildly away from country and landed in the midst of all the juicy goodness that was the music scene of the early '80s.
G'bye, Kenny and Tanya. Helloooooo, Duran Duran and Tears for Fears! Seeya later, George Jones. Pleased to meet you, Howard Jones. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, Willie Nelson. Take your coat off and stay awhile, Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Relax? Don't mind if I do.
Country music ceased to exist for me other than the occasional cross-over tune that made it onto the playlist at Tantrums or Backstreet Chevy's (for those of you who didn't turn 19 in Orillia in the late 80s...those are names of the sticky-floored bars of that era). Songs like "Fishing in the Dark". or Friends in Low Places. Also, I am a HUGE Blue Rodeo fan and have been since high school and I guess they're a little bit country (...and a little bit rock n' roll) so that probably counts, too.
Then I became a Mum and here and there, a country-ish song managed to sneak its way through the stranglehold that Sharon, Lois and Bram, Raffi and Disney had on the cd player in my van. Actually, three in particular, Butterfly Kisses. I Hope You Dance. I Will Take Care of You. Each of those three songs is about what it means to be a parent and each has the capacity to kick me in the ass/bring me to my knees/reduce me to a quivering blob of sobbing Mummy-ness. I finally realised why Country Music is also known as "Hurtin' Music"...It hurts to have your heart torn out of your chest, thrown to the ground and stomped on by pointy-toed boots. Ouchie.
OK...so that is a brief history of my previous involvement with Country Music.
Fast forward to two and one half years ago...or maybe rewind...not exactly sure which one works best here...oh well...Regardless of your means of time-travel, in 2008 I had just been ditched and my 'pampered' life as a Stay-at-Home Mum/Woman of Leisure came screeching to a halt. I needed to get me a J-O-B and I needed to get me one pronto.
Oddly enough, graduating with an Honours English degree waaaaaaaay back in '93, did not/does not entice very many potential employers to beat a path to my front door. (see how I subtly slipped the fact that I have an Honours B.A. and not just a plain old B.A. right in there. That extra year is the only real academic distinction I've got and as they say... If you've got it, flaunt it, right? ;) )
I did, however, muster up the balls (raging Social Anxiety Disorder, remember?) to march out of my new home right across the road to the boarding kennel that just happens to be there and ask for a J-O-B ...And I got one!!! YAY ME!!! I get to hang out with dogs for a living ... How cool is THAT??!!
So, to bring us back to the subject at hand....
I quickly found out that the radio station of choice at the kennel just happened to be of the New Country variety....Apparently, dogs prefer country music. Go figure.
After an initial period of breaking-in/getting accustomed to listening to country music at work, I gradually got to a point where I was able to make it through most mornings without having to stick my fingers in my ears-"lalalalalalatheunionofthesnakeisontheclimblalala"
Once I started to actually listen to the music, like really really listen to it, I was able to hear what it's all about... Country Music is about life. It's about death. It's about love. It's about loss. It's about family. It's about respect. It's about tractors.(And this "Big Green Tractor" too)
Country Music is story-telling at its absolute finest...and I think that's what I love most about it. I love reading stories. I love writing stories...and it seems I love listening to stories... that just happen to be told with a pronounced twang and the whine of a steel guitar as back-up.
And you wanna know the refreshing thing about these steel guitar accompanied stories? There's nothing offensive about the lyrics. It's stuff you can listen to with your mum or your kids or, in my case, with other people's dogs and not have to worry about pulling out the ol' 'earmuffs' for every other song.
Well...actually ...I guess I just lied a little. There are certain aspects of country music lyrics that I do find a wee bit offensive...and here's where I might lose some of you (but you can't I say I didn't warn you)...There is a whoooooole lotta talkin' 'bout guns n' flags (a certain red, white and blue flag seems to receive particular attention) and a whoooooole lot more talkin' 'bout prayin' and goin' to church and readin' the Good Book... and stuff like that. But hey....I am but one lil ol' liberal-minded non-God-fearin' Canadian girl...who am I to judge?? And, I guess one could also say that Country songs are offensive in a way that they do offend some folks' musical taste. But those overly-sensitive snobby and judgemental countrymusicophobes sure don't know what they're a'missin'.
Also, I have to admit that Country artists do a pretty crap job of covering pop songs. I question the decision making process that leads them to cry "YES...that is the pop song I choose to countrify!!!". Some examples of questionable choices of cover songs are... "Life in a Northern Town" , "That's All", "Better Be Home Soon" and perhaps my least favourite "If I Were a Boy" ...oh Reba. Really?? Really Really???
So "Crap at Covering Pop Songs" goes directly in the Country Music "Con" column.
But back to the good stuff....As an added bonus there is a wonderfully inordinate number of mighty fine-looking country singers. Ain't nothin wrong with that.
It is my opinion that these well-crafted stories recounted by beautiful people in large hats have it all...They're happy. They're sad. They're funny as hell. They're sad. They're unbelievably poignant. They're sad. They can make you laugh...They can make you cry...They become a part of you. And... they can make you cry. An emotional rollercoaster all decked out in denim and plaid, wearin' a cowboy hat and sportin' them shiny pointy-toed boots.
I am totally serious about the emotional rollercoaster stuff. Just the other day, I had tears streaming down my face as I listened to a song about child abuse and then the very next song
had me chuckling out loud (COL) because the dude was singing about picking up a girl at a bar, taking her out into fields of wild flowers and the forest where he wants to kiss her in the sticks and then go home and check her for ticks. Awesome. Give it a little listen..."Ticks"
One of my absolute favourites tells us that "rain makes corn.....corn makes whiskey...whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky". Hilarious. I also like this one...it's called "Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer". Or how 'bout this one..."Pray for You" Trust me...it's very funny. And then there's "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" .... Don't I know it!!!
And these cowboy guys really know how to treat their women. These songs are so loving and sweet and respectful...and sexy??!! Who knew??
There are loads of songs about family. Here are some of 'em: "Haven't Even Heard You Cry" " Just Fishin'" "A Father's Love -The Only Way He Knew How" "He Didn't Have To Be" "Voices" "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away""The House That Built Me" "My Daughter's Father""In My Daughter's Eyes" "Anything Like Me"
Honest and realistic songs about relationships "You Tell Me" "I Run To You""Would You Go With Me"
So really, the whole reason I wanted to write about Country Music is that I wanted to create a forum in which to share some really great songs that most of my friends would never in a million gazillion years listen to. And, I personally think that "we all got a hillbilly bone down deep inside". I'm just spreadin' gospel of the awesomeness that is Country Music.
To wrap things up... I'll leave you with my top 3 songs
"Don't Take the Girl" ,"I'll Walk", "Alyssa Lies"