Saturday, March 31, 2012

Confession: I Like Shitty Country Music

There are many who may scoff at the idea of driving down the road, blaring twangy, formulaic, nonsensical country songs and totally rocking the fuck out.  If you're my husband, your head probably just exploded after even reading about it.

I've learned to embrace it: I like shitty country music.

Rob likes to say I was "musically abused" as a child, but the fact is my parents just listened to country music a lot because that's all there was.  I grew up in a town of 140 people that at the time had approximately one radio station that came in well, and even that one was based in a town two hours away. That radio station played one thing and one thing only, and that was country.  I won't waste your time with hipster qualifiers like "it was only real country like Johnny Cash*," this was the country that everyone refers to when they say, "I like all music...except for country."

I know every single word to most of Alabama's songs (especially this one, which I'm totally listening to right now).  Tim McGraw's song "Can't be Really Gone" still makes me cry just as it did when I was 9 years old and my best friend had just passed away.  The first non-Raffi song I can actually remember enjoying was a Hank Williams Jr. song and when I rediscovered it a few months ago I listened to it approximately 10 times in a single day. The first cassette tape I ever owned was Lorrie Morgan. I went ballistic when last fall GMC had a week-long series devoted to the best country songs of the 1990s--and I could sing every last one. When my iPod is dead and won't play in my car, I find a country station; I may roll my eyes at lines like "go together like a pair of bookends," but secretly my blood is pumping, both to the older songs from the 1990s and more recent ones.

Country music is the music I grew up to. It's the music I bonded with my sisters over as we were dancing to "Romeo"in our living room.  It's the music that defined various life events for me.  It's the music that reminds me of my dad and my mom, and the music I'm sure will make me think of them long after they are gone.

Though I wouldn't admit it at the time, it's the music that I turned to when I fell in love with Rob.

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Rob's trying to shake the love of country music out of me.

It's also the music I forsook in fourth grade when I changed schools and most of my new friends hated it.  I pretended to like rap and also went through an embarrassingly obsessive period with the Beatles, which was more about trying to be unique and interesting among my fifth grade peers than an actual love for the music.  It wasn't until high school when I met my unrepentant music snob husband that I opened the door to music that had some of the same qualities as country, but admittedly with a lot more talent and soul (like this and this). This music now makes up the bulk of what I listen to.

Modern country is saccharine and terribly written and cliched, I know you guys. I know it's basically pop music with a southern accent and a steel guitar.  The model upon which country music is built is by far a model that I think should be replicated; attractive men and women are essentially plucked from various sources, trained to hold a guitar and fed songs about Amurrica and small towns and lovin' one another and the flag and the flag troops.  Some of it could even be considered downright offensive (if you can't stand it that long, fast forward to 2:24 for the "reggae" breakdown). Though I think these conventions aren't unique to country music, they somehow seem more obvious and to many, less forgivable.

Putting all of this aside, I still rock out to it and it still makes me happy. Though for a long time I felt shame for my affinity toward country music--helped in no small part by my husband's incessant mockery--as I've gotten older I've begun to slowly pad my iTunes collection with songs from my childhood and new country songs I have found in my covert car missions.  Rob may always skip past them on my iPod when we're driving, but I know they're there if I ever want a trip down nostalgia avenue.

So here we are, friends. My name is Caitlin, and I like country music. And if I don't express much enthusiasm your Bon Iver-packed playlists, it's because I'm probably too busy listening to "Honky Tonk Ba-Donka-Donk" and "Hillbilly Bone."**

*For the record, I also really really like Johnny Cash and so-called "real" country. Also, bluegrass is the shit.
**Also for the record, I know these songs are objectively terrible, but you can't deny that they're catchy as hell.

15 comments:

  1. I love country music!! Living in the UK of course country music is ever even heard over here, but I adore it! I get told I am weird a lot because of it, haha. Unfortunatley for me I only really know the modern stuff because it's not the kind of music I was exposed to when I was young, but I'd love to know some of the best old country songs to download!

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    1. I love how much you love American music and such :) I'm not super well educated on older country but I LOVE Johnny Cash...all his classic stuff like "Walk the Line," "The Man Comes Around," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Boy Named Sue," etc.! If I think of anything else I'll let you know :)

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  2. I got teased at school because I DIDN'T know the words to country songs; everyone thought I was pretending to be cool, but really my parents just didn't listen to it. Then I grew up and got teased for knowing all the words to Joni Mitchell and for recognising both Vivaldi and Charles Mingus; everyone thought I was an arty poser, but really that was what I had grown up with. You can't win either way. Embrace the music you love!

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    1. Sounds like your parents/you had awesome music taste! I didn't get into classical until I took up violin in 6th grade and even then it was a very passive interest. Rob had a much more rounded musical education as a child so can't understand why I like this crap, haha. Sorry you got made fun of for it, kids are ridiculous.

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  3. lol that makes me feel better about my recent blog confession that I like some STYX music. Embrace it!

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  4. I love this post! Even though I don't listen to country, I know there are some...questionable...albums in my collection that I'm not quick to 'fess up to. Music that I blast when I'm alone in the car and have the windows rolled up. I'm with Sarah Rooftops, embrace the music you love!

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  5. We can like Shitty Country Music together Caitlin!

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  6. So funny. I grew up in Boca Raton (not country at all) but my dad had a mid-life crisis at 40 and started wearing cowboy boots and listening to country music. (this was when Dallas was the number one show on tv so it was not so weird). My Dad is in no way a cowboy but loved that country and my sister and I know the words to all the country music from riding in his sportscar!

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  7. Dude it took me so long to admit that I liked the country music. My husband who is a freaking musical snob, always tells me it's too simple to be music, but whatev. If you don't already you need to follow blake shelton on twitter, that guy makes me laugh my ass off!

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  8. Caitlin!!! I love you!!! Okay I am going to read this in full (and watch your video links) when Judah isn't sleeping right next to me, he is a bit to young to be dreaming about "Honky Tonk Ba-Donka-Donk" ha ha ha

    PS one of the main reasons (well actually I lied bc I have a billion other main major reasons) but one of the reasons why I fell in love with and married my husband was because when he sings he sounds just like Johnny Cash :-)
    Tim McGraw always makes me cry
    and Alabama is classic <3
    and when I was pregnant with Judah I always played country music and bawled my eyes out and drove around singing to him, I think thats why he loves country music so much :-)

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  9. Those are NOT terrible songs! They're the nest songs ever. And I agree Johnny Cash is the bomb. I used to think I was going to marry him. I cried myself to sleep when I found out he died.

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  10. I love country!

    I prefer post rock (my favorite being Godspeed you! Black emporer!) but country has a definite place in my heart... Alll country... The good the bad and the ugly.

    I think I just like music tho

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  11. I was also "musically abused" as a child. I know pretty much every Shania Twain song and can't un-know them.

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  12. I love country music. Country and classic rock with a little bit of some other stuff thrown in for good measure.

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  13. randy owen from alabama is related to me. how cool am i to you NOW?

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