“Country” Can Be Anywhere

IMG_3684-3It seems like almost everyone, including myself, proudly associates country music with the great state of Texas. Born and raised from a tiny little town in northeast Texas, I’ve always associated myself with being “country”. My accent definitely doesn’t hide where I’m from either. And everyone knows that country music and country people always come from Texas, right? Wrong. I discovered that maybe country music and country people could be from any state.

This past holiday break I got the chance to visit a friend who is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She told me that she had gotten us tickets to see Garth Brooks live. I had heard the name before, but for some reason I just couldn’t think of any of his songs. I soon discovered that Garth Brooks is actually from Tulsa. Like anyone would do, I googled his name to figure out if he was even that good (because, obviously, he’s from Oklahoma not Texas). It turns out that he is the world’s sixteenth best selling artist of all time. I was shocked. This guy must be worth seeing!

When my friend and I arrived at the concert, it seemed like we were the only people under 50 in the whole place. But I didn’t mind, because Garth’s music was pretty catchy and I found myself having a lot of fun even if I didn’t recognize a single song. The performance did include bright flashing lights and a few props, but nothing like a Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry concert might have. Simple is good, I thought, because it allows the performer to show their talent without huge distractions. I looked around at the audience and people were dancing and having the best time of their lives. My friend explained to me that Garth Brook actually retired a few years ago to spend more time with his family. He decided to start touring again, and his first priority was coming back to his hometown to perform.

He did seven shows in a row in Tulsa, and we were attending his sixth. That requires a lot of energy and dedication! Okay, now this guy was really growing on me. It was then that I realized that “country” isn’t just about being from Texas, wearing cowboy boots, and riding your horse with a Texas flag flying in the front yard. Country is about keeping things simple, and honoring your humble roots. Garth Brooks may be from Oklahoma, but that doesn’t really make him any less authentic than any other country star. But don’t get me wrong, if I had to choose between George Strait and Garth Brooks, I’d choose the Texan.


Filed under Live Music, New Country, New Traditionalism, Texas

2 Responses to “Country” Can Be Anywhere

  1. Dusty Hixenbaugh

    First, I’d like to say that I can’t believe you didn’t know who Garth Brooks was. That’s not really a comment about you, but about me — it makes me feel old to think that someone who was EVERYWHERE when I was a kid is now kind of a forgotten precursor. Anyway, I think you’re right that country singers use their place of origin to build their “authentic” country persona. But Oklahoma is still pretty “country” as compared to, say, Massachusetts.

  2. Justin Cole

    I agree with the sentiment that country can be anywhere. Originally, I felt the same way that “country” is confined to Texas and other southern states. It wasn’t until I was on a mission trip in 8th grade that I realized to be considered “country” is not just dependent on where you’re from. I met a group of guys from West Virginia that loved country music, fishing, rodeos and other activities generally associated with being country. I think a perfect example of this is the Brantley Gilbert song “Country Must Be Country Wide”. As far as you getting to see Garth Brooks, that is awesome. I cannot wait to see him this summer when he comes to Texas.

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