Monthly Archives: May 2015

Country Music Summer Survival Guide

Summertime has become a country song cliche. But it’s no wonder there are so many songs about sunshine, sand and bikinis. Summer is great time of year! Country artists sing about reality and true feelings. Well, the joys of warm weather and vacation are real and worth singing about! This summer soak up the country music! Get your fill of country at a country music festival. I was surprised to see how few summer country music events are held in Texas. I found 3 Lone Star State festivals that sound awesome! For the Texas Country Crowd, Crudefest is in Midland may 14-16th. 3 full days of country! Audience members can set up camp on the grounds in a tent or RV. Lots of attendees bring 4 wheelers to sit in and watch the concert. Jason Boland, Josh Abbott, Whiskey Myers, Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen and Casey Donahew will be performing there.


Another Texas Country Festival is Homer’s Backyard Ball in Amarillo, Texas. It will be held May 16th. Performers include Granger Smith, Reckless Kelly, Randy Rogers Band, Hayes Carl and Kimberly Dunn. This festival also hosts a cook off and activities like mechanical bull riding. For those who like pop country The Texas Thunder Festival is August 21-23 on farmland in Glendale, Texas. Brad Paisley is the headliner! Some other the names playing are Florida Georgia Line, Big & Rich, Joe Nichols Thomas Rhett. This festival also gives the option of camping on the festival grounds. Another 3 full days of country.

If you can’t make it to one of Texas’s few festivals. I’ve come up with a few summer playlists that will do the trick. Hottest country songs for this summer for pop country listeners according to XM channel 56 and Vevo are:

Dierks Bentley- Say you do

Keith Urban- Raise em up

Tyler Farr- A guy walks into a Bar

Billy Currington- Don’t do it

Kenny Chesney- Wild Child

Sam Hunt- Take your time

Florida Georgia Line- Sippin on Fire

For my personal summertime jams I’ll be listening to something far less commercial. I love country songs that fly under the pop radar. They have to have a good beat, meaningful lyrics and more traditional country instruments. Absolutely no rapping. If a song has a bass, fiddle or even acoustic guitar, count me in! Here is a list of recent summer country song for listeners like me.

Kacey Musgraves- Biscuits

The Damn Quails- Fool’s Gold

Whiskey Myers- Anna Marie

Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen- In the Next Life

Granger Smith- Silverado Bench Seat

Turnpike Troubadours- 7&7

Josh Abbott Band- Oh Tonight

Then there are the songs that are so precious because of the memories they carry. Songs that raised my generation during the summertime when school was out and so were the popsicles. A 2k summer playlist for those who love the memories from 5-10 years ago:

Alan Jackson- It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

Kenny Chesney- When the Sun goes Down

Tim McGraw- Something Like That

Deana Carter- Strawberry Wine

Zac Brown Band- Toes

Brooks and Dunn- My Maria

Keith Urban- Days Go By

Brad Paisley- Mud on the Tires

The kindest blessing I can think to leave with you is this: I hope each day this summer is like a summertime country song.


Filed under Lists, Live Music, Texas

Home Sweet Country Home

Listening to Brad Paisley’s “This is Country Music” gives anyone a great overview of what country music is to a lot of people and clues the clueless into the values that it speaks to. However, there’s one line in the song that I think is majorly overlooked. In the second bridge, Paisley sings “This is real, this is your life in a song / Just like a road that takes you home / This is country music.”

I hadn’t thought about it much until I really started reading the lyrics, but that line characterizes the feeling I get when I listen to country. I think we all know it too—the comfort of turning down familiar roads and all the memories that start to flash across your mind’s eye. Your body moves almost as if on auto pilot because your mind is elsewhere. A pleasant, almost nostalgic feeling pervades my thoughts. It’s comfortable. It’s what I know.

Country music has been the soundtrack to my entire life. From the time I was born, it was engrained in my brain that George Strait is the King and that Alan Jackson is his right hand man. In fact, Alan Jackson’s “Livin’ on Love” was probably the first song I knew word-for-word since we played it coming home from church every Sunday. It’s like my family’s song, you know how boyfriends and girlfriends have “their song” or whatever, my family has one, too.

As I grew up, I learned that I could like things that weren’t just what my dad listened to—though raising me on the greats definitely influenced my taste. I became interested in different kinds of country especially female singers like Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and others. Admittedly, they’re more pop country and it wasn’t a real shock to anyone when Taylor Swift left the scene to explore new avenues and a larger audience.

But something struck me about what she had to say at the CMA’s this year talking about when she left. She said that country music would always be her home and where she got her start. I think giving the genre that kind of recognition was important to fans everywhere because while we no longer lay claim to her as a community, we would welcome her back if she wanted to make a return. For me that speaks volumes about the community and sense of home country creates. Like Lynden’s mom said, country music is one of the most forgiving communities—from exploring new genres to problems in your private life, if you admit you’re wrong country will welcome you home. (Start at 3:52)

So whether country means literal home to you or just mimics the feeling of home, I think the community as a whole is, as Mrs. Orr said, like a family. We’re all connected by the common ideals that country promotes and a cohesive fan base that will support you no matter what which is something a lot of genres don’t have.

What’s your country story? Are there any songs or moments in country music that define your life? Do you agree that country music is like a home? Or do you think I’m crazy? Let me know in the comments! (Except that last one, I don’t need to know about that one).

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Filed under Reflection, Song Analysis

The Most Important in Country Music?

johnnycWith this being my last blog post of the school year, I wondered what I would write about. After doing quite a bit of brainstorming and still coming up with nothing I decided to search the internet for a topic that might catch me by surprise. While searching, I came across a post that listed “The 10 Most Important People in Country Music.” This was something that caught my attention because I feel that an argument can be made as to who the most influential or most important people in country music are.

raycI remember at the beginning of this course Dusty gave us a list of several artists and bands and asked us to list the top ten people who we thought were most influential to the genre of country music. When we did this exercise I was actually pretty surprised to find out that artists such as Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Aerosmith had such big influences on country music (according to CMT). There were also artists on the list who I would’ve guessed to be higher up and artists who, in my opinion, should’ve been a bit lower.

One of the things that the AXS article mentions which I agree with is the fact that the sound of country music has changed so much over the course of the years. Their inclusion of George Strait, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash as some of the greatest contributors to country music is also something that I can easily agree with. However, there are some artists who I question why they are considered the “most important” in country music.

The list of artists doesn’t seem to have an order as to which artist is most and least important on their list. A short description is given about each artist and/or their music as to why they are considered to be important or to have made significant contributions to the genre. The artists noted for being the most important in country music include: Johnny Cash, Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, The Judds, Dolly Parton, Luke Bryan, Faith Hill, George Strait, and last but not least Hank Williams.

While I’m not trying to be mean, I feel that Luke Bryan and Taylor Swift could easily have been replaced by someone who has been around longer and has made a bigger impact on country music such as Willie Nelson, Reba, or even Elvis. I actually found it rather amusing that the reason AXS provided for Luke Bryan’s importance to country music was because of his “signature booty shake” and his ability to “make grown women swoon” with his song lyrics. This might just be my personal opinion but I think it should take more than booty shaking in order to make it onto a list of country’s most important figures.

luke bryan shake it lukebryan women

Feel free to let me know what you think of the list compiled by AXS. Who do you think should’ve been included in this list and who do you think should’ve been left off?

Bailey, Tiffany. “The 10 Most Important People in Country Music.” AXS. 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 3 May 2015.


Filed under Lists, Reflection

Country Songs from Movie Soundtracks

After watching Country Strong, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw, again for my Country Music Experiences project, my obsession with the movie’s soundtrack quickly came back. I love all the songs so much, particularly “Give in to Me,” “Coming Home,” and “Me and Tennessee.” It got me thinking, what are some other great country songs that came from movie soundtracks? After looking through my music, I found a lot that I love that I didn’t realize or forgot were from movies. Here are some of my favorite country songs that come from movies.

I love this song because it showcases Gwyneth Paltrow’s surprisingly amazing voice. Before seeing Country Strong, I had no idea she had such a great voice and was capable of singing a ballad like this one. It’s a beautiful song, and in the movie, it is Paltrow’s Kelly Canter’s final performance before she commits suicide. I would like the song on its own, but the context in which it is performed in the movie gives it a more special quality, because of the emotion with which Paltrow sings.

This is another song from Country Strong that I really like, and it is a duet performed by Leighton Meester and Garrett Hedlund. It is a love song, and is sung with a lot of emotion. In the movie it is the beginning of the twos’ characters finally getting together after tension throughout the whole movie, so it is a great song in the context of the movie.

This is a song released by the Charlie Daniels Band in 1979, but was also featured in the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy starring John Travolta. I have loved this song for a long time, because I grew up listening to it because my dad loves it. I had no idea it was in Urban Cowboy until we watched it in class, and that adds something to the song because I can see how people would dance to it at rodeos and dance halls.

This is a duet by Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix from the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line of a song that Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash sang often. I really like their cover of it, it is more upbeat and fun the original, and I really like Reese’s voice as June. When reading the comments on YouTube, I found that some viewers even like this movie version more than the original.

Finally, I really like Blake Shelton’s cover of Footloose from the 2011 version of Footloose. His voice is deeper than Kenny Loggins’s original recording of the song, and since Shelton is a country superstar this was a hit song. This version of Footloose is much more current and country than the original song from the 1984 movie, which makes it better in my opinion.

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Filed under Lists, Movies and TV

The Gatlin Brothers: Famous Artists or Just Family?

IMG_4837The entire semester I have learned so much about the country music world in class, yet I never realized how close I’ve been to the real country music world in my own dorm. My friend Lauren Gatlin (you might recognize her last name from the Gatlin Brothers) has grown up around the country music industry her entire life and often spends a casual weekend backstage in Nashville. She was kind enough to spend a little while chatting with me about her father, and even called him during our interview. Her father is Rudy Gatlin, one part of the famous three-part brother band, The Gatlin Brothers. They sing a three-part harmony where Rudy takes on the high harmony. One of the brothers, Steve, plays the base and the other two play the acoustic guitar.

The Gatlin Brothers were huge in the 1970s and 80s, and their music is considered by most to be classic country, but they create gospel music as well. Larry, Steve, and Rudy may be superstars to the average country music fan, but to my friend Lauren they are just family.

Just like any other normal person, these three brothers lived an average childhood in the small town of Abilene, Texas. They all started singing at a very young age as sort of a family hobby. Lauren’s father, Rudy, went on to Texas Tech and it wasn’t until after college that the brothers decided to officially form their band.

Together these brothers won a Grammy in 1976 for their hit song “Broken Lady”, the same year they officially decided to join together as a band. You may recognize them from their other songs such as “All the Gold”, “Houston”, “Night-time Magic”, and “I Don’t Wanna Cry” just to name a few.

However, their success and passion for music hasn’t stopped since. Just three years ago they won the Pioneer Award at the Academy of Country Music Awards. They are also members of the Grand Ole Opry. Rudy, now 62 years old, and his two brothers continue to create music to inspire others. Lauren revealed to me that they are actually working on another gospel album, because that is what they are most passionate about at this time. Lauren told me that her father Rudy and his brothers love reaching out to people on a spiritual level. They have been reassured several times of their positive influence by receiving letters of thanks from fans who turned their life around because of The Gatlin Brother’s songs. Not only is Lauren’s father successful and famous, he’s also a great Christian man and father.


After hearing everything about the Gatlin Brothers from one of their own family members, I was blown away by how normal brothers could reach such high success through simple hard work and dedication. By this point in the conversation I was so fascinated by Lauren’s normal experiences that would be an experience of a lifetime for me. She attended the most recent Academy of Country Music Awards that many of us watched and wrote about for the class. Lauren has met Hunter Hayes, Kenny Rogers, Taylor Swift, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Little Big Town, Lee Brice and many other famous country music performers.

Even though Lauren’s father is friends with famous artists and is famous himself, he still maintains a normal family life in Dallas while his two brothers still live in Nashville. It just goes to show that famous artists are real people with real lives, and all they really want to do is create music and make others happy.


Filed under Awards, Classic Country