Monthly Archives: January 2016

Country Music in my Community

IMG_3942Normally people belong to multiple types of communities where people identify themselves. For me, in this part of my life, the most significant community I take part in is the UT men’s tennis team. The guys on the team are the people I am with at least five days a week. We are all very close on the team, most likely because we can all relate to one another. Not only because we play tennis, but because we all relate to each other on what it is like to be a student-athlete, and the struggle it is having to practice for almost 5 hours a day and still having to work on our academic duties.

Nine out of the twelve players on the team are from Texas, and they all listen to country music. I am from Mexico, so I personally do not know much about country music; I just listen to whatever the guys on the team are playing without even knowing the names of the songs. They love to play country music when we are in the bus travelling to matches, so I have learned the lyrics to some of the songs. The playlist we play on our home matches also includes a couple of country songs that the team in general likes. They do this because it gets them fired up and excited for the match with those songs. For the members of the team who do not like country, there are other songs that we enjoy in the same way they enjoy country.

I am uncertain whether some of the members listen to any songs in particular, but I know one of our seniors is a big fan of a country band named “Florida Georgia Line.” He told me he likes this group because normally country songs and country singers tend to be sad and somewhat depressing and this group gives of a better vibe and makes him happier.

I do not think the team uses country music as a way to distinguish themselves from other communities. They just enjoy and listen to country music, in my opinion, because it is what they are used to as Texans, and is part of their southern culture. As a community, I have to say we don’t avoid country music. However, there are two French guys on the team who absolutely hate country music and always want the rest of the team to stop playing it and are always complaining because they do not want the tennis team to be seen as the team who listens to country music. The reason that the French guys on the team dislike country is because they probably have a hard time relating to the lyrics of country music since their culture is different. Although they have been more patient about it lately, so who knows, they might end up liking it after all.


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 1

A Different Perspective

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 9.25.59 PMBorn and raised on the other side of the world in hot and humid Singapore, I never listened to country music. I was surrounded by every genre of music except country. We associated country music listeners with rednecks, hicks, and cowboys.

I came to the U.S. under the impression that I would always despise the awkward sounding twang that always seemingly sang about trucks and religion. This different perspective of mine would change when I committed to swim for the University of Texas.

I am a part of the Men’s Swim and Dive Team, and even on my recruiting trip, guys would listened to all types of country music. I sat there pretending to like country but in reality, tried to block it out by either talking to others or play on my phone.

A year and a half later, I’ve slowly become accustomed to country music. Guys on the team such as Will Glass and Jack Conger listen to songs such as, “Outlaw Women” by Hank Williams Jr. and “Creepin” by Eric Church. I wouldn’t say the Swim Team uses country music to distinguish us from the rest, but most guys on the team are from Texas so they grew up listening to country.

However, we could relate ourselves to country music. In my opinion, country music symbolizes a laid back lifestyle with strong morals and beliefs. Most guys on the team are religious and very family orientated. I’m an only child, but I feel as though I have 35 brothers. We eat, swim, and even study together on a daily basis and that allows us to form a strong bond.

I can’t think of another group on campus that has to jump into a freezing pool and 6am in the morning, go to class, and then hop into the pool again at 3pm. Now, you might question what does this have anything to do with my community and country music. Well, country music reminds me of my family and home. When I listen to country, it transports me 10,000 miles away back to Singapore where I’m with family and friends. It reminds me that I also have a family here and that very thought gives me a sense of security that I can rely on any of my team mates for help.

Who would have ever thought that country music would have brought me closer to my team by appreciating what they have given me- comfort and love.


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 1, Outlaw, Texas, USA

Outside My Southern Comfort Zone


silicon_valleyAs a college student, one of the biggest choices I’ve had to make was where to work after I graduate.  Last year, I was lucky enough to land an internship with a technology company in Silicon Valley, California and get a taste of work life.  I was excited to be in the heart of technological innovation, but I didn’t realize was how different the community would be.

The first time it really hit me that Silicon Valley is very different from my home state of Texas was at a company party.  The party was “country” themed and I was extremely excited to two-step the night away.  Once I got to the party, I realized that this “country” themed party was not what I expected at all.  People were wearing comical combinations of plaid and animal print, the barbecue had pineapples in it, the cornbread was dry, and nobody sang when the band played “Sweet Home Alabama”.  My coworkers, most of whom were from Asia, California, or the North-Eastern United States, asked me if that was what Texas is actually like. I couldn’t say no fast enough.

One thing that really stuck with me was that nobody seemed to have even recognized any of the country music, not even the pop-country artists like Carrie Underwood or Lady Antebellum.  In fact, many of the Americans seemed to actively avoid country music.  To them, country music is associated with ultra-conservative hillbillies who spend their days drinking beer and cleaning guns which is definitely not the type of person a liberal California techie can identify with.  My other coworkers, who hailed from Korea, Japan, India and China, had never even been exposed to country music before.  Even after showing them some of my favorite country songs, they weren’t keen to start listening to country music because the songs weren’t relatable for them.  There are almost no Asian country artists and many of the subjects of country music like big trucks, football, small towns, and American patriotism did not resonate with them.

After the party I was feeling very homesick. How could I live and work in a place where so few people share the love of the music I’ve grown up with?  Eventually I came to realize that there were many people from different cultures at my workplace who also wanted to share their own favorite music.  Even though nobody else could name a George Strait song, we were all able to bond over our universal love for music and appreciation for each other’s cultures.


Filed under Blog Post 1, Class work, Reflection

The love relationship between Texas and Country music

Billy+Bob's+TexasI was born and raised in Texas and never plan on leaving. This is the place I call home, and it has made me into the man I am today. Just as Texas has shaped me, country music has also influenced my community and I. Everywhere you go in Texas, people are listening to country music. Country music helps tell the lives that Texans live, as well as helps get us through our days. TEXAS IS COUNTRY MUSIC, AND COUNTRY MUSIC IS TEXAS.

The people of Texas listen to so much country music we have even made a sub genre of country music, which we cleverly named Texas country. This is music for the Texas people, made by the Texas people. Texas country is usually a little “rougher” and less polished than Nashville country, and in some cases is more highly regarded by the Texas community.

Country music has also made the Texas community fortunes, and creates jobs for many Texas citizens. There are Honky-tonks in every large Texas City, where the community flows to Friday and Saturday nights to enjoy country music’s best. Here they spend money on tickets, booze and memorabilia, which is taxed in order to support the community. These Honky-tonks also hire bar tenders, sales members and managers, which creates employment opportunity for the community. Many times the musicians that these people flow to see are Texans. After all, the king of country music is from South Texas. George Strait has made enough money to buy a large nation singing country music. Many Texans have followed his lead and moved to Nashville to chase their dream of making a living off of country music.

Texans enjoy country music because the songs become their life anthems. The musicians sing about the things we care about here. We love our trucks, mommas and hunting in the great outdoors. Everyone watches football on Sundays with their families and friends. We love to have a good time with friends, and drink beer at the ranch or lake. We also love our country, and remember those who sacrifice their lives for our freedom. This is what country music is based on and what the musicians preach, the songs even unite us as a community. When we are sad we listen to slow country music to go along with our pain. Up beat country music can also accommodate our Friday and Saturday nights out with friends. Texans have always listened to country music; it is passed down from generation to generation. It is the one genre that people of all ages can unite and listen to, and has even helped instill Texas values and beliefs into our younger generations. We love what the songs preach, love the people who sing the songs, and you can bet we will do everything to make sure country music stays a part of Texas culture for years to come.

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Filed under Blog Post 1, Texas

Growing Closer

A community I belong to is my group of friends, best friends to be exact. Despite high school being a place where you discover yourself and your interests, I managed to meet 5 stranger sand they became my best friends. All of us of with similar, yet different backgrounds, nationalities, aspirations and taste.

Each one of us has a distinct music taste. Some of them prefer Spanish music, others like pop while others are into rock, and others like country. Personally, I fall into the category that listens to a little bit of everything.  Every time we get in a car, the big debate breaks out, who’s music choice will we be stuck listening to the whole ride? You definitely want to be the one who gets the aux cord, so you aren’t miserable if you hate the other person’s music choice. And I’m sure many people can relate to this. Luckily for my group of friends, we’ve come to be in these situations so often that we now like each other’s music, and although we may not be crazy for the genre, we’re at least able to tolerate it!

The one genre that brings us to agreement is country music. Yes, there are debates over who we think is a better artist whether it be Sam Hunt, Hunter Hayes, Kenny Chesney, George Strait or Johnny Cash, but it allows us to come together and share something. Now that we have gone off to different colleges and cities, we’ve grown a bit apart, but whenever we are together or are logged on to our group chats we mention new music we are currently into or songs we are relating to at the moment.

Since my friends are hispanic, our other friends and family aren’t used to listening to country music. I don’t think that they have anything against the music, but it isn’t something that the majority of the hispanic community is listening to in huge numbers. It sometimes sets us apart from the rest of the group and when we choose country music to play with others, we get a look of bewilderment and a “you like country music?”. The fact that it sets us apart from the rest allows us to come together more because it is something we share with one another. Country songs are about telling stories and being able to relate to one another which is why it’s able to bring my group of friends closer together. Music has the power to make people happy and bring them together, but country songs in particular are about people and different kinds of relationships. And due to this it gives us a kind of bond that we wouldn’t be able to experience in other ways.


Filed under Blog Post 1, Class work