Monthly Archives: September 2015

Taylor Swift: Country Artist, Pop Artist, Superstar, My Idol

Taylor Swift is a household name (even for those who live under the pop culture rock). Swift, a phenomenon in the world of music, has impacted both the country and pop genres; but also, most prevalently, my life.


My first photo with Taylor at her Speak Now World Tour in 2011.

My love for Taylor Swift began when I was merely ten years old. Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas means that you’re subject to many country radio stations; thus, it was hard for me to listen to something other than country music when traveling in the car with my family. I remember the first time I heard “Tim McGraw,” Taylor’s first single, echoing through the speakers of my moms suburban – it was magical. I was finally listening to my kind of artist, singing about younger issues and I was hooked. Being used to listening to George Strait and Brooks and Dunn on country radio did not prepare me for this moment. There was a teenage country girl artist who I could idolize as I did Britney Spears (pre-2007 head shave, of course).

Taylor’s arrival to the country scene is what made her so immensely popular; she appealed to a completely different audience, bringing so many new ears to the country music genre. A much younger demographic was drawn to this new genre of music which is something that country music wasn’t ready for and that country music listeners are still hesitant to accept.

Whatever the issues that people have with her (I will never understand), she WAS country at the beginning of her career. Yes this revelation is coming from girl with a life-size cardboard cut-out of Taylor in her room and tickets to see her in concert next month, but also from someone who knows country music and appreciates it for everything that it offers.

Taylor’s dreams of becoming the next Faith Hill would be surpassed but her country roots are what would get her there. In the early days of her career, she opened for multiple country idols, including, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley, just to name a few. Although she was a few decades behind her headliners, her music fit the country music bill. In her first single, Tim McGraw, Taylor describes heartache with a “boy in a Chevy truck that had a tendency of gettin’ stuck on backroads at night.” This song would plant her in the country world, which is exactly where she wanted to grow.

With constant success at country music award shows and sold-out tours, Taylor began to grow beyond country music with successful crossover hits like You Belong With Me on her second album Fearless, to which she won a VMA at the MTV Video Music Awards as the first country music artist to do so. Now, people who didn’t already love the curly, blonde country singer were starting to get more submersed in her music.

This is what I love about her; her music has never changed. All of her songs are the same kind of impactful. Her early sound made her a country artist, her later sound made her a pop artist, and her self made her a superstar. Taylor Swift should be listed under both country and pop, if you ask me. She has pushed the envelope and introduced so many listeners to country and pop music. For a fangirl like me, it’s difficult to remember a time where she wasn’t a world figure but impossible to forget where she started and what that sounded like.

“Taylor’s impact is huge on country music. She’s really helped broaden the perception of what’s intrinsic with a country song but you can present it in so many different ways,” said Keith Urban and I couldn’t agree more. I will forever be grateful for the girl who made me fall in love with country music and taught me what a good song and what good writing looks and sounds like.


Filed under Blog Post 2

Midnight Rodeo

IMG_0209Not many people in Texas can say they don’t know how to two-step. I however, had never had that experience until recently. A couple weeks ago some friends and I decided to go to Midnight Rodeo for fun. Going to midnight rodeo seemed like a fun alternative to our usual Thursday’s down on good ole 6th street. I distinctively remember walking into that dark venue. I could hear the “clicking” of boots all around me, smell the slightest hint of beer from the bar, and see a crowd around the dance floor. It was the definition of a Texas dance hall.

Many girls and guys watched others dance around the floor like elegant swan swimming through the lake. I had no idea how many different way people could make two-stepping their own. You could tell there were classical two-step moves, but couples added spins, flips and twirls to their routine. If you’ve never two-stepped before (like myself), it was definitely an intimidating site.

Sure enough, my friend pulled me to the dance floor and began two-stepping. Now, it’s a very easy dance once you get the hang of it, but different songs have different speeds which means you need to adjust how fast or slow you two-step. Thankfully, my friend was a veteran two-stepper and he was patient enough with me. As soon as I got the hang of the basic two-step, he could tell, then began adding in twirls to the mix. It was a crowded dance floor and you have to move to the music so you don’t run into anyone. He lead me around people so smoothly, even I was in shock.

They played many songs, but I’d have to say my favorite part of the night was when they played “Copperhead Road” and every single person in the venue stood up and began to line dance. I know this isn’t two-stepping, but it was neat to see everyone be able to participate (especially the people who didn’t have partners to two-step with). The stomping of boots and hollering of people proved to be unusually comforting for me. It’s probably because it represented a community of people who have something in common coming together to enjoy a dance with one another. Overall, the experience was new, fresh, and exciting for me. I love doing things outside of my comfort zone and this definitely proved to be worth it.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Dancing, Texas

Dixie Traitors or Dixie Outlaws?

Almost everyone in America during the year of 2003 knew about the dramatic public announcement made by the Dixie Chicks during a concert in London. This caused a massive stir when the group announced that they were “ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas,” and that they were not in support of the war and violence that was occurring. Many people saw this as complete and utter disrespect for America, the government, and most importantly the U.S. troops who were sacrificing their lives on behalf of the country. The group even saw a major decline in record sales and popularity.

the-dixie-chicks-protestGrowing up, the Dixie Chicks were my all- time favorite singers. I spent hours listening to their CD’s on my boombox, making up dances to their songs with my friends, and memorizing the lyrics that glorified girl power and being a southern girl. When the London concert incident happened, I could not have been more upset. I had so much respect for those women, and looked up to them very much, so when my parents told me I was no longer allowed to listen to them I was simply heartbroken as a little girl. I come from a conservative, Republican family, and I know I was just one of hundreds that banned the Dixie Chicks’ music from their household.

I can see exactly why what the Dixie Chicks did was disrespectful and dishonorable, but looking back on historical artists of country music many of them were so widely known or popular because of their “outlaw” status. After reading and learning about Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard to name a few, I realized that the Dixie Chicks could easily be considered outlaws. They didn’t go to jail or shoot anyone, but they stood up for what they believed in while bashing very important figures, and did so in a highly public manner. Clearly their rebelliousness didn’t produce a positive result or increase their popularity as some outlaws experienced, but they were acting out in classic outlaw behavior that was very prevalent in country music throughout history. They didn’t care what their label or fans would think, but wanted to say what they were feeling, even if it was disrespectful and would cause a major backlash. Very similar situations and decisions are what gave some artists in history that very reputation of being an outlaw. However, because the Dixie Chicks were displaying the opposite of patriotism, which is such a huge part of country music, there is no way that they could receive any type of positive feedback from it. There’s no turning back once you do something like that. But is rebelling this drastically not outlaw status even more?


Filed under Blog Post 2

Outlaws: A Concept of Country Music’s Past or a Thriving Genre?

When I think of outlaws I think of the gunslingin’, trash-talkin’, do-no-gooders who ruled the old west in the 1800s. Little did I know until this past week that outlaw refers to a certain genre of country. An outlaw, according to, is some one who is a rebel or a non-conformist. Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson characterize the true meaning of an outlaw in country music. Their collaborative song “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” pokes fun at the definition of a classic cowboy saying, “They’ll never stay home and they’re always alone. Even with someone they love.” The song continues to define the classic cowboy when ironically Jennings and Nelson epitomize the opposite of such. The country music outlaw does not allow record producers and popular culture to define the meaning of a cowboy and country music. They are the free spirits and trailblazers of country music that set the pace for the rest of the pack.


Willie Nelson (pictured on the left) was tired of the clean cut style the Nashville culture encouraged him to pursue, so he moved to Austin, grew his hair out, and wore a bandana—a tangible sign that he was fed up with the mainstream definition of country. Waylon Jennings also grew weary of the controlling Nashville labels that told him he could not play his guitar in recording sessions and that he must dress a certain way. Both of these men had enough…and they did something about it.

The outlaw movement reigned in the 70s, but what about outlaws today? Can we still find them roaming the charts of country music like those that went before them? Has the definition of outlaw evolved so much today that there is no such thing as a true outlaw like Nelson or Jennings? Luke Bryan makes it clear to everyone that he, indeed, is NOT an outlaw due to the fact that he does not “do cocaine and run around“. Thanks for the clarification, Luke! Bryan’s laughably skewed definition of outlaw proves the idea that outlaw is a term loosely thrown about in the country music world today, giving us reason to doubt anyone could truly hold that title anymore.

Although it is highly contested, many would argue that Eric Church is a modern day outlaw. He began his career as an outlaw by getting kicked off the Rascal Flatts tour for refusing to follow directions and outplaying the rest of the band. Church also stays true to his own music and writes many of his own songs–unlike many mainstreamers who work very closely with the record labels, resulting in generic, crowd-pleasing hits.

M_KaceyMusgravesGun630_120513What about Kacey Musgraves? She is quickly gaining a presence in country music with many awards, nominations and top of the chart hits. She clearly earns the title of outlaw with the unique and controversial topics she explores in her songs. In her chart topping hit “Follow Your Arrow”, Kacey unveils the truth that no matter what you do in life people will criticize you so “you might as well just do whatever you want.” It is this kind of mentality that influences Kacey’s music career, earning her the outlaw title.

So there it is.  Being an outlaw does not mean you have to fly under the radar or even be a pioneer of country music’s past.  It means embracing your true identity regardless of what others may think. Although true outlaws are difficult to come by today, they exist and they are thriving.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Outlaw, Reflection

Lakeside Country

It’s a Friday afternoon, you just finished school and are heading out to the lake with all of your best friends. Once you get there, you unload your things, put your swimsuit on, and walk out to the dock to catch some rays. But you’re missing something. Where’s the music? One of your friends goes to plug her phone in and what kind of music does she play? The answer is simple and almost universally known, country music.

31308_1489712649196_8351342_nReflecting on my childhood days at the lake, country music always seemed to be around. No matter if it was in the car on the way there, on the boat racing in the lake, or in the kitchen during dinner, the sweet sound of country music had always somehow made an appearance. It was never a burden to hear the sweet sound of a banjo or guitar resonating throughout the house. Everyone always enjoyed it, even if it wasn’t something they listened to regularly. For example, my dad is not the biggest fan of country music and never exposed it to me growing up. However, he always tolerated it at the lake and even sang along. What is it about the lake that brings out the country in everyone?

holger-leue-american-flag-on-boat-lake-coeur-d-alene-coeur-d-alene-idahoWhen thinking about this question, my mind revolved around ideas of our country, family, and liberty. Normally, people go to the lake for Labor Day, the 4th of July, and other holidays as well. These holidays are for families and friends to celebrate our country, reconnect and reminisce with one another, and also just love on each other. Are those not some of the main topics of country music? When everyone is together as a unit, it brings out a very noticeable, yet ineffable power and mood that enlightens everyone’s time spent together. Country music simply adds to it.

Going to the lake usually implies some type of boating and water activity. There is nothing more soothing than closing your eyes, feeling the wind against your skin and listening to some country. Many country songs convey this feeling. According to Great American Country, a majority of the top 10 Boating Songs are country songs. Artists like Zac Brown Band and Kenney Chesney sing songs about how boats are an escape from life and provide a type of freedom. Also, a handful of country music videos involve boats and the lake. I am guilty of repeatedly watching Kid Rock’s music video to “All Summer Long” when I was in middle school. But now the song and the image of him cruising on his boat always pops into my head when I’m out on the lake with my friends.

Freedom, love, and patriotism are found in a majority of Texans and also found at the lake. In the end, I think it is these traits that country music efficaciously sings about that make Texans turn the volume knob a little higher at the lake.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Texas