I Like Country Music

Posted on March 1, 2011

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That is something I never thought I’d say.  Until last summer, I had never given country music a chance.  Occasionally I had enjoyed it as a novelty — like when we had to learn the “Achy Breaky Heart” line dance in middle school gym class — but it was never to be taken seriously.  At high school dances I would become furious when the DJ would throw on the one country song everyone but me seemed to know: “Fishin’ In the Dark.”   I would stare bewilderedly at my friends as they sung along to every word.  “We’re all suburban kids from Minnesota,” I thought.  “How could this song possibly appeal to you?”  Apparently I didn’t realize the ironic nature of my CD tower at home, filled entirely with West Coast gansta-rap.

Between “Fishin’ in the Dark” and now (at least 12 years later), I honestly can’t remember listening to a single country song, unless you count “Ghetto Cowboy.”  After 9/11 I remember reading something about a new Toby Keith song saying something about “putting a boot in your ass because it’s the American way,” with the “your” seemingly referring to anyone brown.  That was all the evidence I needed to stay the course of avoiding this genre.  If music was playing in my periphery and I heard a hint of twang or a southern drawl, my brain would automatically tune out whatever came next.

When I moved back to Minnesota last spring, I started DJ-ing to make some quick money.  Depending on the venue or the city (hello, Shakopee), there would be varying levels of country music requested.  I HAD to play it.  It was my JOB to play country music.  Not only that, I had to know what country songs were currently popular, so I could keep the hoedown going even without specific requests.  I started listening to K102 off and on for research.  Slowly I began to get into certain songs, enjoying them ironically at first (or so I thought).  Then I started to notice the thematic similarities between country music and my beloved hip-hop (which will eventually be the subject of its own blog post), and enjoyed it academically.  Finally, I ended up just flat-out loving it because I couldn’t not love it.

If you’re feeling open-minded, I’ve posted the main songs that turned me onto country below.  Give them a few listens.  If you don’t dig a few of them at least a little, then you are a certified grinch.

Zac Brown Band: “Chicken Fried”

‘…and the radio uhhhhh-oh-ohhh-wuhhhh-ohohh-wup.’

As a vegetarian, I know I shouldn’t like this song.  But not liking this song would be like not liking smiles.  Check out “Colder Weather” for more Zac Brown Band goodness.

Jason Aldean: “My Kinda Party”

‘Hell, why drive when you can stay with me?’

This song kicks ass.  I’ve yet to meet a Jason Aldean song that I haven’t liked.  To have your ass kicked more, check out “She’s Country.”

Josh Turner: “All Over Me”

‘Grab your shades, and your string bikini, and your Coppertone 45.’

My predilection for this song, as well as “Chicken Fried,” I think stems from the fact that I’m turning into a real adult.  The portrait of the good life painted in songs like these naturally appeals to me more now than, say, chugging Grey Goose in the VIP of da club rollin’ on dubs with strippers poppin dat bubb.

Toby Keith: “Bullets in the Gun”

‘Every gun was on us, and every heartbeat pounded.’

My college girlfriend once told me that she wished the song “Ghetto Cowboy” was two hours long.  That’s how I feel about “Bullets in the Gun.”  It’s an entire Western in less than three and a half minutes.  As much as I dislike Toby Keith for the same reasons I dislike Larry the Cable Guy, this song is a masterpiece that transcends the whole boot-in-ass/git-r-done mentality.

Big and Rich: “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”

‘What? What?’

Yes, this song is gimmicky and stupid, but it is gimmicky and stupid in a perfect way –similar to R Kelly’s “(Remix to) Ignition)” or… any other song ever by R Kelly.  Blast this one.  It will make you feel drunk, even if you’re not drinking.

Josh Thompson: “Way Out Here”

‘When it comes to weight, brother we pull our own.”

Creepy xenophobia aside, this song more than any other makes me long for the freedom of living in some shack in the middle of nowhere.

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Posted in: Pop Culture