Prior to this class, I tolerated country music. If it was on I would not be upset, just indifferent really. I did always enjoy any country song if the singer would say “Can’t” with such a twang that it sounded like “Caint.” Although I still cherish the twangy, slight mispronunciation, of words, country music has become so much more to me. It not only has become the only music to fill my car, but the music that drives my thoughts throughout the day.
Walk the Line
“That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”-Steve Martin in “Grand Cayon.” As somebody who has seen 58 of the top 100 movies rated by IMDB, it is no secret that I love cinema. I think that I fell in love with movies because of the stories they tell, and looking back at this class I fell in love with country music for the same reason. Songs like Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses” could easily be adapted into full length films. From the first essay on, finding out the story behind every country song made listening to it even more enjoyable. For no song is this truer than Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line.” In the movie with the same title, Joaquin Phoenix portrays Johnny Cash to perfection. Each and every internal demon that Cash faced throughout his hard life was played up to perfection. Phoenix’s dark eyes gave viewers a window into Johnny Cash’s soul, and it was wonderful. In this scene June Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon) lectures Johnny and the band about walking a line. Although I doubt it sprung up as quick as the movie suggests, this lets you see into how one of the more recognizable songs in country music was created. Whether it was explained by a Hollywood film, or Dusty in class I will always love learning what inspired a great country song.
Dancing Across Texas
As some of you read about in my last blog post, I recently went two stepping. This was an experience that was uncomfortable at first, but quickly grew on me. I would have never been able to do this without being exposed to country music by this class. If it wasn’t for the familiar voices of George Strait, Cody Johnson, and Randy Travis I would have been a nervous wreck out on the dance floor. After having my own two stepping experience, songs like George Straits “I Just Wanna Dance With You”, Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance” and of course Brooks and Dunn’s “Boot Scoot Boogey” have instantly become more relatable. With a helpful push from this class I was able to take a step out of my comfort zone and have a great night.
As a swimmer I am up early all too often. Sundays are the one day that are free of practice, and free of alarm clocks. For some odd reason, I chose to get up at the crack of dawn to go wait in line for Franklin’s. “Alright folks, only three and a half hours to go! Thanks for coming out and waiting!” exclaimed the head cook of at Franklin’s Barbecue. We were about tenth in line and I was about ready to give up and go back to bed, it was still only 7:15. Just as I was having these thoughts Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm” began playing. I figured that if a little boy could shine shoes with a smile, I could at least wait in line for the best BBQ in America. As Johnny Cash songs kept playing, I got some full country nostalgia. Talking with two friends about everything we experienced in our first year as Longhorns. Our time in line flew by as barbecue filled our noses, and memories filled our minds. It was almost like we brainstorming for a country song of our own. With a nostalgic conversation, Johnny Cash playing, and the best smell in Texas I was ready to grab a guitar and start strumming up the next hit country song. This thought would have never crossed my mind had I not been exposed to country music through this class.
I can’t say enough great things about this class and the experiences that it generated for me. I hope that Dusty finds a way to keep it going as he moves on the next phase of his life as country roads take him home to West Virginia. I feel extremely fortunate to have ended up in this class, and I feel bad for every University of Texas student that didn’t get a chance to take it. Whether I hear it in a movie, on a dance floor, or in line at the best BBQ joint in Texas, I can confidently say that I love country music, and attribute most of that to this class.