Monday, June 1, 2015

A Good Day to Try Something Old

Yesterday morning I hopped in my swaggery mini van with a hot Earl Grey and a bowlful of cherries, headed for who-knows-where, Indiana.

It was one of those days where you feel like maybe the world chose you, all slanted streaming sunshine and the kind of back roads that have you screaming down a hill just to stop at the bottom at one of those train crossings with no gates or lights, just a sign, and you breathe quick, look both ways, and power across, hoping those rails are defunct and the sign's just too pretty to go anywhere.

If I had more confidence in my skills and more wind-proof hair, I'da spit those pits right out the open windows while I drove.

It wasn't long before I was too far from home for my programmed radio stations to queue up, so I did what I do, I pushed that SEEK button, landing smack dab on a country song.

I used to hate country music.

I had a friend in high school who was a maybe-crush but more of a probably-never, one of the best guys I knew who mailed a birthday card just two miles up the road from where he lived when I turned 18. He was always playing us country music and it made me feel like such a hick, though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't flooded with heartache the first time I heard "Don't Take the Girl" in a van full of my favorite people, weeks before high school graduation.

Country music just wasn't my jam. I was more of a Metallica girl, and you think I'm joking. I was Alice in Chains and Scorpions with Duran Duran on a better day, and a little left-over Out of the Grey and Whiteheart.

I was like a Dilly Bar, only opposite; sweet exterior masking a crispy, cold core.

At least that's what I told myself.
It was my only rebellion. I had to make it count.

Sometime during the second half of college (read: 1996, when I fell for Cute Maintenance Boy) the melody flipped and the next ten years were a loop of Diamond Rio, Blackhawk, Joe Diffie, and SheDaisy, with one of the best lyrics in all of country music history, "When I look to the left, see his sun-tanned hands, his muddy river hair and his thousand acre plans, I'm all shook up like a quarter in a can. Ain't life the passenger seat."

Yes. Yes it was.
Cory didn't have muddy hair, but he did have longish hair, mannish forearms, a couple of hogs, and at one time, a pick-up truck named Floyd with a rusted out floor-board.

I was way shook up.

And so it was. I was in love, and only Garth, Sammy, and JoDee understood.

We should've known it was a bad sign when Dixie Chicks finally put out an album that rivaled their debut, then vanished without a trace.

Country music was all jacked up.
It was a big ol' mess.

And it only got worse.

But where was I?
Oh, yes.
In my minivan.

When that frequency zipped to a stop, I knew it was country, but I didn't immediately hate it. I didn't picture gelled wannabe-cowboys wearing jeans from The Buckle with flap pockets and aggressive stitching.

After three decent songs in a row, I wondered if my musical worldview was about to shift again. I mean, I am on the cusp of 39.  Then a song came on with the most hilarious, spot-on, fist-bump lyrics EVER and I wondered even harder.

I don't know any of the singers. I didn't recognize voices. I DON'T KNOW NADA.
But Maddie and Taye (?? I have never heard of them, thank you, Google) were right on, as proven by the next handful of (catchy, not-heinous) songs ALL referencing interchangeable "girls" wearing "little white tank tops", being generally "hot", and even, indeed, dancing "barefoot".

What happened to a love song, man? Don't guys sing about their wives anymore? George Strait must be turning over in his King-size bed.

Forget the Kardashians and Breaking Bad.
The downfall of society will surely be country music.

Who knew???

Having time for reflection, I remembered that the last time I fell into the country music rabbit hole I ended up tricking Ann Voskamp into playing a song about a "girl" poppin' out of her bikini top IN THE KITCHEN WHERE SHE BAKES BREAD FROM SCRATCH AND SPINS THE WORDS THAT MAKE US WANT TO BE HOLIER.

I'll bet she took December 30th clean off.

All of this to say, the good news is, country music appears to be trucking back to its country-boy roots.

The bad news is, country music country boys only seem to care about drinking and objectifying women.

And other things.

But they do sound like they're back in Wranglers.

And that ain't nothin'.


  1. shut yo' mouth.
    with love,
    this country music lover
    {and yes, it will be the downfall of all mankind and we'll all go down dancing}

  2. SHANNAN! Sam Hunt will make you smile. That is all.

    1. He actually filled me with despair with his weird rap/slow-talking thingy!

    2. That one is weird, but YouTube "house Party," and "Leave the Night On." Not a good one to lead with, Sam!

  3. Ugh! Yes. Country music has broken my heart. It seems I spend more time seeking than finding when it comes to country music these days!

  4. Hahahaha this is so great! I needed the smile today! I met my man whilst country line dancing AND had a country western wedding complete with hay bales, cowboy hats, bolo ties and lace up cowboy boots under my dress!!!!! I'm not much of a listener of country music anymore because -you're right- it ain't what it used to be!!! I do miss those dancin' days <3

  5. I kept reading and reading and reading thinking "surely this whole post isn't just about country music- there'll be something deeper coming". AND THEN IT WAS!!! Day made.

    1. Some days this is just as deep as it gets around here. :)
      Thanks for putting up with me!

  6. Yes! Your post made me this of this video that I had to dig up and share. How did country music come to this??

  7. I love your posts.
    The end.

  8. music
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  9. What??? ^^^

    That comment made me forget what I was going to type. Oh, yeah, I grew up with country music blaring from the music room at my grandparents home. My granddaddy played steel guitar in a band that played radio and barn dances. And I HATED it. Of course, I was very young. When I got a little older I realized I didn't really hate it. I hadn't understood it. Then a funny thing happened. All those country songs by Tammy and George, Loretta and Conway, George, and Hank were just over my head when I first heard them. So, yes, I like(d) country music. You are right about the drinking and objectifying women in country music nowadays. I can barely stand to listen to any current song now except something like Automatic by Miranda Lambert. I'm picky, I guess.

  10. 'Forget the Kardashians and Breaking Bad.
    The downfall of society will surely be country music."
    This made me giggle right out loud.

  11. There is precious little country about country music these days. :-(. It's all catchphrases they think have to be included...the Maddie and Tay song pretty much sums it up (and actually pulls lyrics from recent hit songs by male country singers). And, to top things off, quite a few of the newer guys wear skinny jeans.

  12. Shannan, seriously, I don't know how much longer I can keep reading your blog before I just give. it. up. about this trying to be a writer thing. You have a gift I can't even wrap my mind around. How DO you come up with never-before-in-the-history-of-the-world ways to turn everyday things into sheer poetry. You kill me, yet somehow I can't stop reading you/torturing myself. :)

  13. I love country music and there is some really good stuff out there right now. Men: Eric Church and the Zac Brown Band. But the really really really good stuff these days is being done by the woman, all over the place, all the time, and hardly being played on the radio: Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe, Angaleena Presley, LeeAnn Womack, Lori McKenna, to name a few. Go listen. Love it.

    And my radio favorites this week:
    Love Me Like You Mean It, Kelsea Ballerini
    Girl Crush, Little Big Town

  14. I listened to country in the early 90s and loved me some Vince Gill, Brooks & Dunn, Garth and Trisha Yearwood....still do. Every time my 8 year old niece is in my car she asks me to turn on a country station. I oblige by turning to the "classic" country which turns out to be Vince, B&D, Garth and his wife. She immediately exclaims from the back seat "that's old school country" to which I reply, "when you have a car you can listen to new school country". She sees no humor in that.

    Oh.....what kind of point and shoot camera did y'all get? I'm in the market for a good one....I mean a cell can only do so much and I don't want a heavy one to lug around in my purse.

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  16. Yeah. The country struggle is real! Girl, you gotta try Pandora "90's Country" it's just like the good ol' days!!! All the good old stuff. Give it a shot.