I was never a country music fan until...now. I guess it has to do with the fact that I now live in the "real" South and travel through some small cities in Georgia and South Carolina where the only radio stations with a strong signal are country music stations. The truth is I never really gave the music a chance. When people would ask what type of music I like I would say what I think most people say -- "I like just about everything, except for country music". I used to say that it's all about your girl leaving you and driving in your pickup truck with your dog. The funny thing is that it really is about that -- except for maybe the dog. But there is more -- a lot more. I love a good story, and a good storyteller. That is why I am a fan of old school rap -- not today's crap. I mean Tupac, Biggie Smalls, A Tribe Called Quest, etc. Like a good book, you could visualize the story they were rapping about. Country music is a lot like old school rap. Every song is a story. I suppose all music tells a story, however most songs from the other genres that I like from groups like Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Van Halen, Weezer, GNR, etc. are more abstract. For me it was all about the instruments for the most part. Obviously I heard the words, but I didn't really listen to them.
Every country music song (at least the ones I like -- which I suppose are probably classified as modern, or new country) tells a story where you visualize yourself or someone you know or something you can relate to just like old school rap does -- at least I do. The stories are not always about love lost (although many are); but a lot about new beginnings. The themes seem to revolve around either God, country, or family; or all 3 in one sometimes. I think the word or theme that best encapsulates what country music means to me is about having strong moral character. This is something that I aspire to have -- and frankly, I think we all should aspire to have. I don't know about the demographics of country music listeners, but my guess is that most are white and God fearing and come from and/or have large families. Most are probably conservative. And most probably voted for McCain although like me, only because they didn't like the alternative. I think most probably are extremely disappointed with the moral decline in family values in this country. So, they are a lot like me.
Country music sings about having personal responsibility, being a good parent, being true to yourself, humble, and about hard work. These are all qualities that we should have but unfortunately so many of us do not. The worst thing is not that we do not have all of these qualities, but that we do not care to have them. We live in a culture about me, me, me. And what you can do for me. Every day that passes, we move further away from what made this the greatest country in the world -- these traditional values that the greatest generation (WWII) perfected and are systematically being eliminated in our society today. We have gone from personal responsibility to victimhood. From making decisions based on moral principles to doing what is easy and does not offend anyone. And I am sick of it. I want to do something about it but don't know how. How do I make my voice heard? Like everything else I suppose, it all starts in the home. Just like Country music. Home. Family. God. Love. America...not necessarily in that order.
Here are a few excerpts of some country music lyrics that tells the stories I like...
"I thank God for my life
And for the stars and stripes
May freedom forever fly, let it ring.
Salute the ones who died
the ones that gave their lives so we don’t have to sacrifice
All the things we love
Like our chicken fried" Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band
"I've been to church
I've read the book
I know He's here, but I don't look
near as often as I should
Yeah, I know I should
His fingerprints are everywhere
I'd just slow down to stop and stare
opened my eyes and man I swear
I saw God today" I Saw God Today by George Strait
"And he bowed his head to Jesus
And he stood for Uncle Sam
And he only loved one woman
(He) was always proud of what he had
He said his greatest contribution
Is the ones HE'LL leave behind
Raised on the ways and gentle kindness
Of a small town Southern man" Small Town Southern Man by Alan Jackson
"before she knows it shes a brand new bride
in her one bedroom apartment and her daddy stops by
he tells her its a nice place, she says itll do for now
starts talkin bout babies and buyin a house
daddy shakes his head and says, baby slow down
cause your gonna miss this
your gonna want this back
your gonna wish these days
hadnt gone by so fast" Your Gonna Miss by Trace Adkins