Cliche Country… That isn’t Terrible!

When I tell people that I like Country music, about half the time they say something along the lines of, “they just sing about the same stuff: trucks, dirt roads, and drinking.” Whenever I hear this I try my best to tell that person about the heartbreaking and inspiring country songs that also exist regarding a number of different topics, but in the back of my mind I know that most of the chart topping country has been dominated by such topics. In this blogpost I would like to highlight country songs with cliche topics that aren’t terrible, because every cliche is based on a truth that these songs nail right on the head.

First off is the ever-popular topic “trucks”. It seems to be the first thing that people go to when they think of country because just about every country star can be seen in or by one in their music videos (yes, even Taylor Swift! ) As a proud truck owner myself I understand the appeal – trucks are utilitarian and offer the ability to be prepared for more situations, allow the driver to make it to more places, and you can beat the car up a bit too. One of the best country songs that sing about trucks is “Drive” by Alan Jackson. In this song he sings about driving, “an old half ton short bed Ford,” with his father and how that was one of his favourite memories that he hopes to share with his daughters.

The second topic that country singers love to sing about, and country haters love to complain about are dirt roads. Singing about driving down a dirt road to a secluded spot is a staple in country, but I don’t think singing about such things is bad at all. In my experience driving down a dirt road has almost always resulted in an amazing memory. In Brooks and Dunn’s song “Red Dirt Road” they sing not just of the fun they had there but of growing up and experiencing important moments of life like, “Where I drank my first beer,” and, “Where I found Jesus.” So next time you see a dirt road, take a lesson from the multitude of country songs and see what’s down there.

Finally, if one thing in country has been consistent throughout the ages it been singing about drinking. From honky tonks and airplanes to tailgates and mexican beaches, country singers have drank there. In this case I think that critics may be right, country singers always have and always will sing about drinking but just like drinking I think that in moderation these songs are a good thing. They are stress relievers. Of all the drinking songs out there I think that one of the best, and a top contender for my all time favorite song, is “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson. This song is all about letting loose after the world has been too harsh, which is something that can be good if done right and something that everybody can relate to.

The critics of country music will always complain that all the artists sing about the same things. While I think responding by telling them “there is so much more to country music” is true I think that also belittles some amazing songs. So next time somebody complains tell them that there is more to country music, but that songs about dirt roads, and trucks, and drinking aren’t all bad too.


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8 Responses to Cliche Country… That isn’t Terrible!

  1. Stephanie Sebo

    I just love the song “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson. It has always given me such a relaxed feel. I think the meaning also goes deeper. While it is a song about drinking, I think it plays on the feelings of destressing after a long day, or maybe even just a long week. I’ve been listening to this since I was little, so of course I wasn’t drinking at the time, but I have honestly always been relaxed and made happy when I hear this song. I’m also a fan of Jimmy Buffet, so anything where he pops up, I enjoy.

  2. Morgan Lohmeier

    It’s so true that country fans and non country fans alike know that many songs within the genre reflect one of the three topics you described. However, what country-haters fail to see is that these topics within country songs are so relatable for most country fans, and therefore are great topics to draw in a great country-loving crowd. I have never owned a truck myself, but can still relate to all the truck songs after having worked and lived out on a family ranch. Dirt roads are also relatable for this same reason that I’ve grown up with many drives down meaningful dirt roads. Great post.

  3. I agree with you John (and also Morgan) that topics like drinking and driving trucks have become so popular because a lot of people can actually relate to them. From my perspective, it’s when country singers and songwriters stop even trying to come up with other relatable experiences (Dolly Parton wearing a coat her mama made out of scraps, Tim McGraw riding a bull named Fu Man Chu) that it becomes a problem. Country music is about these things and more.

  4. Darah Welch

    This is very interesting to me because it seems like a lot of what I have written about in this class so far has been a defense against people who say that country music only discusses these topics. It is true that some of my favorite songs hang on to these cliches like no one’s business. It is also interesting because you name just about any cliche topic that every genre covers in general and there are most likely several country songs that discuss those same topics. Every genre has cliches yet it seems as if there are so many cliches to choose from that they all even out in the end.

  5. Kayla Miracle

    I really like this post because I think that typical country songs don’t get the credit that they deserve. I understand that people who don’t like country music might downplay the importance of the main topics that are sung but to people who relate to this genre, these topics are everything. I love the song choices you chose to include because all three are some of my favorite country songs. Songs like “Drive” and “Red Dirt Road” always make me feel nostalgic even if they don’t 100% pertain to my life. “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” is one of the best songs to (exactly what you said) lay on a beach to. It’s this kind of feel-good music that always makes me feel like it’s summertime even in the end of October when I’m drowning in school. I really appreciate this post, thanks for sharing!

  6. Amanda

    I really like that you chose to defend the existence of these themes in country music, rather than deny that they are the center of it. Personally, I find myself taking a strong liking to a lot of the “cliche” songs that so many people talk negatively about, especially “Red Dirt Road” that you mentioned. That was one of my favorite songs growing up. I think that even though these songs may include a basic or cliche theme, it’s important to not overlook them, as so many may actually include a great story or captivating lyrics, or even just a really fantastic beat/ instrumentals. The only thing we have to remember when realizing that some of these cliche songs are good, is that country music is still much more than the few themes that those 5 songs are built around. Yes, the themes may be cliche, but they can still be important, but there is also much other themes that are prevalent in country music songs. Overall, great post.

  7. Caitie Labay

    I can completely relate to this blog post! Most of my friends here at UT are who I like to describe as “ACL-ly” because they are very into lesser known music that “has a deep and artistic message” (I’m not hating on ACL, I attend the festival too, these friends just seem to have a superiority complex about it!). They are always hating on my country music tastes, saying that the songs are superficial and have no meaning to them. I agree with you that many country songs are focused on what would seem like lame topics (like trucks), but often they have a much deeper or more sentimental message behind them. Bravo to you for pointing out that cliche is not always bad!

  8. Alyssa Buchanan

    Your song choices were on point. “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” is an all time favorite for me. My baby cousin had it memorized at age 5 and him dancing around singing “pour me a hurricane” was always a great source of fun during the holidays. This topic of “cliche” country music is always brought up. Just about every time I talk about taking this class someone asks “have you heard the mashup of four country songs that have the same tune and basically say the same words?” Your point is so true though, just because the songs might be cliche, that doesn’t make them bad. Don’t you think the same thing could be said about what rappers sing about?

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