Monthly Archives: February 2015

My Ultimate Miranda Lambert Playlist

With Miranda Lambert’s huge success of winning the Best Country Album Award at the Grammys for her album Platinum, I began reminiscing on some of her old albums and decided to compile a playlist of my all time favorite Miranda Lambert songs, although there’s no way I can fit ALL of my favorites I’ll do my best!

“Gunpowder & Lead” has to be one of my absolute favorites. Growing up Lambert’s family took in abused women and children. She wrote this song for those women, describing how she herself would handle an abusive relationship. Although it covers a dark topic the song is a kickass girl power jam.

“Mama’s Broken Heart” was actually given to Lambert by Kacey Musgraves, one of the original writers along with Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally. It’s about a girl who gets her heart broken and starts acting out because of it. When people in the town notice the girl’s behavior her mom is informed and tries to put her in line. I love this song because it perfectly describes the crazy emotions that go through your head when you get your heart broken.  I actually got to see Brandy Clark perform this when she opened for Jennifer Nettles this past summer!

“Only Prettier” is one of Lambert’s snarkiest songs, written about two groups of girls that cannot get along and think the absolute worst of one another. The song is about Lambert’s group of friends saying the only difference between the two groups is that hers is prettier.

“I Wanna Die” describes the singer’s relationship with a guy who she knows is a complete jerk, but wants him anyways. This song is super relatable for just about any girl on the planet.

Now we transition to a group of deeper, more meaningful songs. The song “Over You” was actually written by Lambert and Blake Shelton about Shelton’s old brother, who was killed in a car accident when he was a teenager. Lambert added the song to her album Four the Record to honor Shelton and his brother’s memory.

“The House That Built Me” holds the biggest personal connection for me. Written about a young woman going back to the house she grew up in to visit and try to find a small piece of the person she used to be. When this song first started playing on the radio my mom always told me it reminded her of me because she knew I was going to grow up and leave home (Virginia) someday.

I’ve always loved “Famous in a Small Town.” My dad grew up in a small town and whenever we go back to Alabama to visit I’m constantly reminded of this song. Everyone knows everything about everyone else. This past summer I went to the mall with my dad and my aunt and they saw at least 2 people they knew in EVERY. SINGLE. STORE. It was the longest shopping day I’ve ever had, needless to say this song is not an over exaggeration.

One of Miranda Lambert’s newer songs, “Automatic,” is another great track. I love it because it’s one of those songs that brings you back to your roots. It reminds us all of simpler times before we had internet to do everything and before we started living in this “instant” society. I think it’s a great reminder that we need to work for the good things in life.

Kerosene is by far my favorite Miranda Lambert album, and as many of you may know it was her first album. All of the songs on the album are very simple, such as “I Can’t Be Bothered,” “New Strings,” “Kerosene,” “Me and Charlie Talking,” and “Bring Me Down.” These songs make me think of the battle between the Texas Country and Nashville Country subgenres that we’ve been discussing in class. This album is very much Texas Country and each song has a very raw sound.

Miranda Lambert has been very successful with 5 hit albums, countless music awards, and years of sold out tours. She is a strong woman with admirable morals and amazing talent. Her country music style changes with each album and I can’t wait to see what she does next. What are some of your favorite Miranda Lambert songs? Leave them in the comments below!


Filed under Awards, Music Videos, Reflection, Song Analysis, Women

Waltzing with the Debutante

Honky Tonk Debutante by Christine WarrenLast week, the Rhetoric of Country Music class had the pleasure of welcoming the author (and country music expert) Christine J. Warren to class. She spoke about some of country’s early subgenres, shared great stories about the development of Austin’s live music scene, and read a couple of passages from her book Honky Tonk Debutante: The History of Honky-Tonk Music as I Care to Tell It (2014).

With this post, I wanted to share links to a couple of projects that developed from Christine’s visit. First, she mentions the class on her own blog (“Reality on the Half Shell”), and she even includes photos of the card we signed for her.

Second, I included an interview I did with Christine in the new episode of the Zeugma podcast series. Zeugma is sponsored by UT’s Department of Rhetoric and Writing, and it generally addresses topics related to rhetoric, technology, and popular culture. I am contributing to all of the podcast’s Season 3 episodes, but the new one on “Honky Tonkin'” has the clearest relevance to our class. Anyway, if you have about 20 minutes to spare, I’d love for you to check it out.

Do you have any lingering questions from Christine’s presentation? What do think of her blog post about us and the “Honky Tonkin'” podcast?

Let us know in the comments!

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Filed under Austin, Class work, Honky Tonk

Assessing the Grammy’s, Country Music Style

The Grammy Awards reign as music’s most important award show, but not necessarily to country music. The country genre is generally not recognized by the major awards, like Best New Artist and Song of the Year, but the awards within the the genre help to provide it with more exposure. In particular, the performances by country artists allow the genre to perform for a new audience, and show off their unique production and performance style.

Miranda Lambert’s performance of “Little Red Wagon” started witimageh her showing off an incredible and well-planned outfit. She wore a black jumpsuit which emulated a Top-40 mantra, but reflected her roots with some snazzy cowboy boots. Her set design featured neon red lights, fireworks and smoke. But the most interesting part of her performance was the censorship by CBS of some of the lyrics. I’ve listened to a lot of her songs, and while mainly on the radio, I’ve never picked up on any of her content to be remotely inappropriate. After doing some research (or just googling the lyrics), I was kind of surprised that an entire line of her song was bleeped out for the use of one common expletive. Truthfully, it took away from the end of what was a spectacular live performance by Lambert.

imageThe second country performance of the night was by Eric Church, who got the opportunity to sing “Give Me Back My Hometown” in addition to being nominated in four categories, including Best Country Album for The Outsiders. Unlike the radio edit, the instrumentation includes a banjo melody that really brings the country roots to the Grammy’s stage. The backdrop contained stop motion film of various scenes featuring destruction of many hometowns throughout the world. At the bridge, the film shows all the scenes in reverse, providing the audience hope for the end of city violence. I thought his performance, while his sunglasses added an always interesting element, was really well put together and a highlight among a lineup with many emotional performances.

Brandy Clark, in addition to being nominated for Best New Artist and Best Country Album, got to perform an acoustic version of her song “Hold Your Hand” with Dwight Yoakam. I haven’t actually heard Brandy Clark before, and didn’t know how big of a deal she was, until I noticed she was nominated for Best New Artist among big names like Iggy Azalea and Sam Smith. The performance was the most natural of the night, and the smooth alto voice of Clark drew my attention to the song.

imageOverall, I thought the country performances of the night all showcased unique aspects of country music: acoustic guitar, banjo, and an uptempo powerful confidence. In particular, I hope to hear more of Brandy Clark on country radio — I think she’s soon to be a force to be reckoned with.

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Filed under Awards, Live Music, Movies and TV

Country Music at the Grammys

One of the biggest nights for the music industry took place on Sunday. The 57th annual Grammy Awards took place in Los Angeles and there were countless big name artists present. Hosted by L.L Cool J, the show featured many live performance as well as a star studded audience. I, being a award show junkie, sat down and was ready for a great night. Unfortunately, what I noticed this year is the underrepresentation of country artists. There are four categories that are specifically tailored to the country genre. However, only one was announced live on the air. I found this quite disappointing seeing as I am a huge fan of country music and most of the artists I love weren’t even present.

The winners of the night were not necessarily my picks but the competition was pretty tough. Miranda Lambert was the only country artist to receive her award for Best Country Album on air. Carrie Underwood won in the category of Best Country Solo Performance for her song “Something in the Water” while The Band Perry took the Grammy for Best Group Performance. In the final category of Best Country Song, the Grammy went to Glen Campbell for “I’m Not Going to Miss You.” I really wish they would have presented these awards live and give these artists, as well as the nominees, the recognition they deserved. A list of all the winners  can be found at

The first country performance of the night was by Miranda Lambert. She performed her song “Little Red Wagon” which I had not heard before. I have seen many of her previous performances, but this one was definitely edgier. She was dressed in black leather from head to toe, and the added pyrotechnics created an energetic atmosphere. The song itself was shocking since I thought it sounded like it was influenced by rock music. Her performance was great but I think it was more of a crossover into contemporary music rather than her typical “twangy” sound.

eric_church_463034182Eric Church also performed “Give Me Back my Hometown” at the show. It was a typical performance for him. He stood center stage strumming his guitar, all the while sporting his famous sunglasses. Once he concluded, the focus shifted to Brandy Clark who then performed “Hold My Hand” with Dwight Yoakum. Seeing Dwight was a surprise since I had no reason beforehand to expect his presence at the show. Nonetheless, this duo sounded fantastic.

While I love awards shows representing all genres of music, I am grateful for the ones that deal strictly with country music. I love seeing all my favorites artists enjoying themselves on a night of music, awards, and glamour. However, the Grammys were quite entertaining as a whole. Congratulations to all the winners, but especially to those artists representing country music.


Filed under Awards, News

“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