Monthly Archives: December 2015

Country Music & The Blues

The beginnings of Country Music and the beginnings of Blues are very similar. These genres were first recorded in the 1920s, and at the time the difference between country, then called hillbilly music, and the blues, then called race music, was really only the race of the artist, which was often confused. The famous Bluesmen of the 1920s like Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Mississippi John Hurt sang mostly traditional and religious songs, later moving onto songs about other topics such as personal and cathartic stories. These types of songs were also sang by those such as Jimmie Rodgers and Eck Robertson. If you listen to the songs of this period one after another the similarities between these two genres of music are apparent

In the time since the beginning of these genres Country and Blues have have undergone many changes and gone in many different directions. For blues the biggest change was during the Great Migration when many African Americans moved out of the rural south for big northern cities like Chicago. During this time the blues was electrified and artists like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf were revolutionizing the genre. In the meantime country, music was undergoing many changes like honkeytonk music and the Nashville sound. At this time country music and blues were definitely distinct and very different despite sharing similar roots.

Today I think that blues and country are closer than they have been in a long time. There has been a push towards more traditional ways for each genre while also having a modern spin. I am glad to see this trend because hearing new music from two of my favorite genres. Gary Clark Jr. is one of the artists keeping the blues alive and revolutionizing it at the same time. He keeps the iconic electric guitar and soulful lyrics while adding a modern sound. On the country side of things Chris Stapleton, winner of the 2015 CMA Male Vocalist award, is leading the movement back to a more roots based music with his own modern spin.

Listening to these two artists really shows the similarities that they have in their music. These two genres shared similar roots as traditional music that were initially recorded as “hillbilly” and “race” music. The genres grew up in the 1900s into very different types of music but due to their roots and changing tastes the genres are beginning to become more similar.


Filed under Americana, Blog Post 4, Hillbilly

Best Female Country Songs of the 90s

When you think about 90s country, the success of the female country scene comes to mind. This was the age that brought a more contemporary sound to country music. This was the period when huge stars like Faith Hill and Shania Twain made their career debuts. Women were leading the charts with their girl-power hits. Women became serious contenders in country music, and these hits could give bro-country songs a run for their money. There are so many great hits from men and women during this era that changed country music, but here is a look at my opinion of the top 5 female country songs of the 90s.


5. Trisha Yearwood “She’s In Love With The Boy”

Writers: Jon Ims

Album: Trisha Yearwood (1991)

This forbidden love song told a story of a young small-town couple trying to gain approval from the father. It spoke to girls everywhere who were experiencing young love in the rebellious teen years.  It was Yearwood’s lead single from her debut album, made it to No. 1 on the singles charts, and launched Yearwood’s wildly successful career.


4. Faith Hill “This Kiss”

Writers: Beth Nielsen Chapman, Robin Lerner, Annie Roboff

Album: Faith (1998)

This song was every girl’s anthem with the up-beat music and catchy lyrics like “centrifugal motion” and “perpetual bliss.” It brings to life the feeling of a first kiss with your crush. This song was one of Hill’s early crossover hits, which launched her into the pop direction. You can still hear this one on the radio, as it remains relevant in contemporary country.


3. LeAnn Rimes “How Do I Live”

Writers: Diane Warren

Album: You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs (1997)

This song launched Rimes’ career as it stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 69 weeks. Rimes was only 14 years old when the song reached success. Although Yearwood also recorded this song at the same time, Rimes still earned a Grammy nomination, and it remains one of the biggest standout songs of the 90s.


2. Martina McBride “Independence Day”

Writers: Gretchen Peters

Album: The Way That I Am (1994)

This song may have never made it to No. 1, but it was one of the greatest and most controversial country songs in music history. The song received mixed responses due to the depiction of domestic abuse, which was visualized in the music video. However, McBride won two CMA Awards and a Grammy for Best Country Song. In 2014, Rolling Stone ranked the song in their list of 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.


1. Shania Twain “You’re Still The One”

Writers: Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Shania Twain

Album: Come On Over (1998)

Shania Twain was one of the best country singers of the late 90s. “You’re Still The One” was Twain’s first Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit and remains one of her most successful singles. This song, written by Twain and her then-husband, won two Grammys and beat out Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Now that’s a pretty remarkable achievement. Twain went on to be one of the most influential female country singers of the 90s.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Country Pop, Lists, Reflection, Women

Country Beyond the Music

When I saw Rhetoric of Country Music as a class option last spring during registration, I immediately signed up. I figured, I listen to country music a lot of the time, so this class should be fun and interesting. I totally underestimated how much I would learn about the different kinds of country music, improve my blogging and rhetoric skills, and genuinely enjoy learning about older artists who I previously had no knowledge of. Since acquiring more knowledge on the genre, experiencing different “country” activities has had a whole new meaning.

  1. Two-Stepping the Night Away

In September, my friends and I boarded a bus to an unknown destination. All we knew was to wear a country looking dress and cowboy boots (my favorite shoes.) The bus ride was long, about 45 minutes, but we entertained ourselves blaring country music and dancing the whole way there. We arrived at Coupland Dance Hall in Coupland, Texas, which had a southern-comfort atmosphere and a HUGE dance floor. While I had a great time at Coupland, there are many other options closer to Austin for people wanting to two-step:

  1. I’ve Always Wanted To Go To Nashville…

But it looks like for now I will have to stick with Nashville the TV show. I first heard about the show a few years ago, and my sister watched it religiously as it aired on ABC every week, so I ventured to watch a few episodes. The cast list has two of my favorite actresses as stars in the show: Rayna Jaymes and Hayden Panettiere. While I fell in love with Rayna during her time on Friday Night Lights, I love her as Connie Britton on the show. Hayden was introduced to me as a Disney actress, I think it was Ice Princess, and how typical of a young Disney star to emerge as a talented singer as well as actress. While I didn’t know about Lennon and Maisy before the show, their cover of “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers is better than the real version in my opinion. This show does a great job of producing songs with a nice country twist to them.

  1. Kacey Musgraves…. I Feel Like I Know Her Personally

As I did some browsing through Texas Music Magazine’s online site, I came across a feature written about Kacey Musgraves and I felt a sense of pride. Something about dedicating 2 weeks worth of research into one person connects you on a weird, personal level with them, even though it is definitely one-sided, I feel like I know everything about her and coming across an article written so positively about her makes me feel like one of my good friends is being honored. The article described why she was deserving of being the magazine’s artist of the year, and many of the points the author hit were running right along with mine! It felt cool knowing that I had similar thoughts with an artist who gets paid to write for a famous magazine.

Rhetoric of Country Music will be one of those classes that I will specifically remember as a favorite college class. It was a class I looked forward to every day because I knew I would learn something new that interested me every time I went to class. I learned more about a genre I thought I was an expert in and I learned how to be a better writer. Classes like these are the most valuable in my opinion because they combine the interests of students with academic progression, which is the most beneficial for learning.

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Filed under Austin, Blog Post 5

A Semester With Country Music

4 Year Old Me without an appreciation for country music but dressed as though I came up with it.

4 Year Old Me without an appreciation for country music but dressed as though I came up with it.

If you asked me before this semester what my favorite music genre was, country music wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, I have been surrounded and submerged by country music my whole life. My family thrives on the sound of George Strait and finds inspirational messages in songs by Trace Adkins. I live in a country music world, but still country music wouldn’t have fazed me.

If you ask me today what my favorite music genre was, it would be hard for me to not pick country music. I have grown up with country music and have several favorite country songs, but now I appreciate country music. I understand its differences and likeliness to other genres and love it just the same. This boot-scootin’, jean-wearin’, heart-breakin’ genre is not only about boot-scootin;, jean-wearin’ and heart-breakin’, but so much more.

Here are some ways I experienced country music this semester:

justin and chris

Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton’s “OMG SOSOSO GOOD” performance at the 2015 CMAs.

Watching the CMAs – My oh my, do I love award shows! Award shows really get me goin’ and this year’s CMAs were one of my favorites without a doubt (this is coming to you from someone who watches EVERY award show, EVERY year). As I’ve stated in a previous blog post, I love Justin Timberlake and Justin Timberlake performed with Chris Stapleton so that was just the best. In all seriousness though, the best part of the CMAs was seeing all of these random pairings of performers perform together. The fact that Fall Out Boy was at the CMAs is beside me. The Country Music Association really made a point to prove to viewers that country music can push the envelope and work with other genres to create something really great.

An assortment of my hidden gems.

An assortment of my hidden gems.

Exploring Old Country Records – When I got a record player a couple of years ago, my grandparents gave me all of their old records. After realizing there was no Taylor Swift or Justin Timberlake 33’s hidden in the mound of records, I had cast them aside. I hadn’t even touched the stack of dusty, worn out records again until this semester when we I heard some names in class that I sworn I had seen somewhere else. Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Buck Owens, Johhny Paycheck, Wanda Jackson, Kenny Rogers and many more can be found on 33’s in my drawer of vinyl records. Who knew?! I’ve had the best time getting to play these vintage records on my relatively new record player. The best part has been singing along to songs and having my parents or grandparents question my knowledge of the artist or the song. They might be old, and their covers might be falling apart but the music on them is as rich and new as ever. (AND HEY… I actually like them!!!)

May 2015 Texas Music Magazine

May 2015 Texas Music Magazine’s E-Zine

Reading Texas Music Magazine – Being a journalism major and a fanatic of all things entertainment (including the music scene), Texas Music Magazine is right up my alley and displays work that I hope to someday emulate. I read the most recent edition from May 2015. This edition covers everything from the 50th Academy of Country Music Awards to David Letterman’s influence on music with his final Late Night show to a Q&A with Texas singer/songwriter Tom Russell. Texas Music Magazine definitely strays toward country music but does incorporate other genres where they see fit (for example, they discuss the naming of pop singer Phil Collins as an Honorary Texan). Texas Music Magazine is a must read for anyone interested in country music or the Texas music scene!

What a long semester of country music it has been, and I’ve loved every minute of it! Shoutout to Dusty for making this class so entertaining, while also teaching us everything there is to know about country music!

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Filed under Blog Post 5

Two-Steppin’, Turn Tablin’, & Line Walkin’

This post is kind of long, and for that I apologize, but I had a lot to say.

Walking into this class, I thought I knew everything there was to know about country music, basically just from listening to it on the radio growing up. However as the semester draws to a close, I know far more about the genre than I could’ve ever imagined. I can write 2,000 word essays on country artists I didn’t even know the name of, I can recognize landmarks and important relevant places that I previously would’ve walked right past without a second thought. I’ve come to appreciate different sub-genres of country that I’d never listened to before and I have a new-found understanding of how difficult it was to branch out in country music and its sound.

de686788-7402-4c3f-ba5c-c9bfc0bf41e1At the start of the semester I somehow got roped in to going two-stepping at that new dance hall that replaced Midnight Rodeo, Dance Across Texas. Dancing is NOT my forte, and country clubs are not my favorite place to venture, but it was Ladies’ Night so it was free which meant I wasn’t completely opposed to the idea- couldn’t be too bad right? Wrong. My toes got stepped on way more often than I stepped on anybody else’s toes, and it was impossible to find a dance partner that didn’t call me darlin’ or sweetie or something of the like. Maybe I’m just not as into the cowboy southern charm as I’d like to think I am, but it was real difficult to find anybody worth a second dance. I was also one of very few ‘ladies’ sporting blue jeans and not a sundress or cutoffs. The music selection wasn’t really up to par either, they mostly played Country Top 40 and “DJ Wade” (who I’m convinced was just a dude they found that pays for Spotify) played around 6 Luke Bryan songs in under two hours. Maybe I went on an off night- if you’ve had a great time at DAT then I’d love to hear about it, but I can’t say I was impressed. As for those boys in the photo, they turned out to be high schoolers, so yeah, all in all a pretty rough night.

ricky2Ricky Skaggs is one of those names I would have scrolled right past on my newsfeed before taking this course, so when I saw an album of his at Half Price Books I decided to check him out; although I’ll admit Reba McEntire and Kenny Rogers made it a tough choice to make, let me tell ya. The album I listened to was “Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine” at a friend’s who begrudgingly let me use their record player; I guess she’s not a Skaggs fan. Overall I thought it was decent (hold your fire), but I think we listened to more interesting songs of his as a class. A few of the songs stood out for me, namely the two where he plays the mandolin: “Don’t Get Above Your Raising” and “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed” which it actually turns out is originally a Merle Haggard song and the statements he uses to describe the woman were all advertising slogans from the time. These were definitely the two most enjoyable songs to listen to on the album, along with “You May See Me Walkin'”, and “Lost to a Stranger” for their angsty heartbreak themes. Everything else seemed to have a kinda particular sound, and I wasn’t really into it, if you wanna check out Ricky Skaggs I recommend selecting a different album but it’s pretty popular so a lot of people probably disagree with me- I probably should’ve went with the Kenny Rogers record in hindsight.

tumblr_m92mzuD3WH1qbabvao2_500Last night, when I realized I had to finish this blog post, I sifted through my parent’s shelf of ancient DVDs and with no luck, decided on “Walk The Line” to rent on Amazon, and let me just say, Reese Witherspoon displayed a refreshing amount of acting capability considering the last thing I saw her in was Hot Pursuit (blegh). I honestly enjoyed both the Pheonix and Witherspoon renditions of the Carter/Cash songs throughout the movie, even if it sounds a little more Sinatra than it does Cash country- I wouldn’t have expected Reese to have anywhere close to the vocal presence that she shows in the film. The movie seemed very one-sided, and I would’ve liked to see things from an alternative lens than the constant “Johnny and June” angle we are fed, but it’s an intriguing movie and didn’t seem to drag too much. My favorite part was definitely the onstage proposal, I really thought Carter was going to say no, but he manages to convince her (and me) that he’s worth a shot. There are so many cute moments between them throughout the film and I’m really glad I saw it.

At the start of the semester, I didn’t know that country music even had a hall of fame, I had no idea that it extended past the borders of Toby Keith’s “Boomtown” and Martina McBride’s holiday album. This class totally changed my perspective and I appreciate so much more about both the history of the genre and the lives of people involved, the music itself is not the only thing I pay attention to anymore. At my family’s thanksgiving Chris Stapleton came up, and for the first time I think ever I knew more stuff about a country artist than the rest of my relateds. I hope you had as much fun reading about my experience as I did writing about it.

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Filed under Blog Post 5, Dancing, Reflection