Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Confessions of a Country Music Convert
If you’re reading this, you've probably heard of country music. I have too. But, until a year ago, I had only heard of it…and then I started to listen to it. The decision to start listening to country music was not mine , but exclusively attributable to my brother and sister telling me that from this moment on, “Patrick all of the presets in the cars will be country...even if it means button 5 and 6* are both tuned to K102.
*Funny story: About 12 years ago, I was in the car with my siblings waiting in the church parking lot for our parents, when I had a brilliant idea. I was in the back seat and wanted to change the station without crawling up to switch it. So, I grabbed an extendable umbrella, aimed it at preset number 3, pressed the umbrellas button, and the button shattered. That’s what I love about Sundays. But it’s alright, we replaced with a mancala stone...its looks as good as new. Except it doesn't work. And it doesn't look very good either.
So after complete bombardment from musicians like Bombshell to Lee Bryce, I realized that my fears of contracting tractoritis and dreaming about my truck...after I bought one that is...were completely unfounded. I found that a lot of the songs had stories like Springsteen and big band jams like Dave Matthews – two musicians that I had and have a strong affinity for.
In fact, a staple activity of my high school days was, when we would come home from hanging out, my homeboy and my best friend Joey and I climbed into his big green tractor* and listened to our song Darlington County (it wasn’t ours in the sense that T-Swift suggests, just something we bonded over). Usually it was when there was trouble with girls , one of us knee deep in a problem, had friends in low places, or we had to meet in the middle to solve a policy problem.
*A small, green Geo...which unfortunately does not have camouflage
In college, I hosted (or, more accurately, held by myself) what I called Dave Fridays. After a long week, when it was finally Friday and Friday afternoon classes had concluded, I went to my dorm room, tuned into a Dave Mathews Band-exclusive playlist, and partied barefoot and crazy (or, more accurately, cleaned my room).
While my music tastes changed gradually during high school and in college, the most drastic change happened when I became enchanted with country music. To be fair I haven't abandoned Bruce and Dave or any of my other past music repertoire. I go back to them frequently. Country music, however, has allowed me, from this moment on, to take a back road.
After my siblings introduced me to the possibilities of country music, I realized that having a few more stations on the radio dial – where the typical number of songs played an hour was so small – wasn't a bad thing. About the same time my siblings showed me how to eat chicken fried with an American honey barbeque sauce, I began a job where I drove about 20 minutes to and from work each day. Even though Gary Eichten provided intriguing and insightful interviews, music was a welcome reprieve after sitting through a couple hours of committee testimony at the Capitol.* Every day, these 40 minutes** would have been filled with REM and OAR, but with my new-found interest in country music, I let Jesus take the wheel and I decided to turn on the radio to K102.
*The committee meetings mostly dealt with natural resources, muskie spear fishing in the dark houses, or regulations about cleaning this gun (safely and with proper training).
** With the colder weather winter (not all the way back to December , more like January or February), it took a little while in order to have the engine’s sparks fly. While I waited for the heat to come on in order to unthaw my frozen toes, I got in about another 10-15 minutes of music.
So, after almost a year of taking on lots and lots of country music, I can officially report that I don't have strange compulsion to buy a truck, or a farm, or drink beer out of a red solo cup and I do really like country music (except for that last song...if you can call it that). The stories are great and messages are wonderful. Some may say that I am just enchanted with the ideas of sharing your love story, to love like crazy, living in the present, telling someone to take a chance, to breathe, to live in reality. But this is what life is about. I knew that these stories, lyrics, and jamming riffs existed in Bruce and Dave, and now I know that they exist elsewhere too.
I’m better than I used to be about recognizing songs on Pandora or the radio and I want to continue to listen to more. Am I the only one who has added T-Swift and Tim McGraw to my music library? Probably not. But, it does demonstrate that I don’t know where my music tastes will end up over my next thirty years.