Monthly Archives: February 2016

I Don’t Have an Accent, But My Lyrics Do

Tips-for-Writing-Lyrics-to-Your-First-SongI don’t get it. Why do I write song lyrics in a country accent? I don’t sing with an accent, speak with one, or even think with one, but I write with one. The words that I write on any sheet, I always read back to myself as if it’s a country song. It’s not like I only listen to country music. My iPhone contains many different artists and genres, like (admittedly) Justin Bieber’s album, Travis $cott, Jeremih, KISS, etc. Even if it were only country…in that sense, I would write in a British accent if I only listened to Ed Sheeran. It’s wild to me because I began loving country music only 14 months ago. I used to never listen to country music, so every lyric written was just in Lee’s voice. Now when I write, it sounds like a man named “Buck” or “Levi” is singing through my brain onto the paper. I struggle to find my own voice in my own lyrics. I can’t pinpoint why, and it drives me insane.

I’ve come up with two possible reasons for my odd situation. The first is that most of the stories seem to sound BETTER with a country accent. Like “Good Directions” by Billy Currington, it just makes things seem more meaningful, or even more experienced. I guess it’s because auto tune is less noticeable for country, all country beats seem man-made, and the lyrics can be understood, unlike today’s rappers like Future or Fetty Wap. The second reason is most likely the more accurate reason. Is it is because country lyrics are so much more relatable than anything else? I mean, it ranges from cars to going out at night, but there’s never anything too out of the ordinary.

While most hip-hop singers or rappers have lyrics that contain profanity, Lamborghinis, or a plethora of women, country music lyrics make the artist seem like a normal human, with an exceptional singing voice and reason to sing. Jake Owen’s “What We Ain’t Got” is a prime example of one of the most relatable songs I’ve ever heard. Take a listen if you haven’t heard it.

There’s no country verse (that I’ve heard) that talks about acid and lean like A$AP Rocky, none about getting dirty money like Jordan Belfort, and none about dealing drugs and needing to contact “the plug.” Believe it or not, I do not sell drugs; I do not drop acid or sip on codeine; I do not even know how to make dirty money if I tried, so I can’t relate to these lyrics. Here’s my attempt at writing a rap, right now – “I’ve got two tattoos, one of my mom and one of my shoes.” Who can’t relate to that right? Here’s a quick attempt of a lyric that I’d actually write — “I’d wrap my fingers in your chenille blanket, wondering when you’re gonna stop faking.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can only think that John Mayer or a country star could sing those lyrics.

No, I don’t have tattoos. Yes, I tend to drink from a Red Solo Cup. My mind is stuck in reality, as well as country, where people sing about jobs, dancing, a significant other, or home. I’d say I’m more interested in John Mayer or (recently) Bieber when it comes to what I want to sing like. I don’t sing with a country accent. Why do my lyrics have one?

*This video contains profanity*

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Filed under Blog Post 2

The Most Famous Stuffed Horses in Country Music

IMG_1091My family and I have attended many country concerts across Southern California in the past eight years. In 2012, we began to notice stuffed horses in the front row of concerts for artists such as Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, and Keith Urban. After seeing two grown men dressed in red, white, and blue suits get on stage with Luke Bryan and perform “Country ‘Boy’ Shake it for Me” while holding stuffed animals and wearing flashing horse necklaces, I had to know the story. I learned that this was not the first time they performed with Luke Bryan on stage. In fact Luke called them out from the crowd by name at a concert in Georgia and invited them on the stage.  (Video of them begins at 1:05)

My family and I met Joshua Zeyak, 30, in October 2013 IMG_3253at a Luke Bryan Concert in San Diego, CA where he was tailgating wearing a bright green shirt with his name printed on the front, hot pink shorts, a horse belt buckle, and cowboy boots. We recognized the stuffed horses sitting on top of his truck right away and began the conversation.

One day in 2009, middle school teacher Leo VanWarmerdam, 28, used small plastic animals to reward his students for good behavior in his classroom. Later that night, at a bar in Corona Del Mar, CA, he discovered the animals were still in his pocket. Having some fun, Leo placed a small plastic horse on the rim of his drinking glass and passed the others around to his friends. Soon after, the entire bar wanted to join in the fun leaving Leo with no more animals.

The next time out country music fan, Josh, a friend of Leo’s, brought a bigger version of the plastic horse for his cup, and the obsession grew from there. Whenever the horses were brought out strangers at every bar, party, or concert wanted to get involved!

IMG_1092Eventually the horses grew in size and now are familiarly recognized at country concerts across Southern California. Men and woman of all ages are drawn to the horses and the personalities behind them.

After meeting Josh and his sister, Jenna, in San Diego our families began to plan what concerts we were going to next. Three years and over 25 country concerts later, I can say that Josh, Jenna, and the rest of the “pony” group are like family to me.

In order to capitalize on the popularity of these horses we finally decided to create a following for them on social media. As a Public Relations student I was automatically chosen to take charge of this task for “experience” as my dad said. I don’t know how promoting stuffed horses will look to future employers, but in the end it was all for fun and games.

IMG_4111We now have a Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and website for Pony Boys USA! Here is where we share our fun experiences within the country music world. Whether it’s on stage at concerts (pictured on the right with Eli Young Band) or backstage hanging out backstage with artists’ people get a kick out of the crazy fame these horses have gained.

It may be a strange connection to country music, but Pony Boys USA and all the people involved have enhanced my experience as a country music fan. Not only do I attend more country music concerts but I also get the chance to learn how to make a website and promote a new brand. I have no idea where this will go, if anywhere, but the bottom line is we have a great time and I enjoy the added benefits of watching my “brother” sing on stage with Keith Urban all because of some small horse obsession.



Filed under Blog Post 2, Concert, Country Pop, Keith Urban, Live Music

March=Rodeo Season

March is just around the corner and that means three things to my friends and me. Spring Break, March Madness, and the Houston Rodeo. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo takes place throughout the month of March and dominates most of my friends’ social calendar. For those not from Houston, the Houston rodeo is one of the largest entertainment and livestock exhibitions in the world. It has a carnival and nightly concerts featuring popular country singers as well as some pop singers. If thats not enough, the people who put on the rodeo insist on selling cheap concert tickets so everyone can afford to enjoy the Rodeo festivities. For comparison’s sake, I went to the carnival and Blake Shelton concert for $18.

My first time at the rodeo was when my mom took my siblings and me nearly 18 years ago. She dressed us up in boots, jeans, flannels, and cowboy hats and we had the best time. She took us to the rodeo every year and insisted on going to see her favorite country singers in concert, but we hated the loud noise. As we grew older and began appreciating the music, we began going more than just once a year and now attend the rodeo almost three times a week during “rodeo month”.

Like I said before, my friends and I went to listen to Blake Shelton last year and loved every second of it. He not only plays great music, but he engages the crowd and puts on a great show. He joked about his work on The Voice, and just seemed like an all around great guy. I’m so glad we got to see him live because it really gave me a new perspective on celebrities. I had previously considered him just another good country singer, but his performance really made me respect him as a person and now I listen to more of his music.

I left out one important aspect of the Houston rodeo: the food. Everything is deliciously fried, battered and topped with powdered sugar or chocolate (or both). I tried my first fried oreo, fried ice cream, fried cookie dough, fried coke, and fried snickers at the rodeo and now frequently fry my own candies at home, despite my doctor’s warnings. Every trip to the rodeo leaves me feeling gross and yet oddly satisfied with my dietary choices.

The Houston rodeo is the best month of the year and we are all lucky to go to school so close to Houston. As soon as Spring Break comes, you can bet that my friends and I will drive back to Houston, ready to rodeo (yes, it is a verb too). We’ll cheer on the random cowboys we have never heard of, pay way too much money to go on somewhat unsatisfactory rides, eat gross amounts of fried foods, listen to excellent music, and have an overall great time. I love rodeo season.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Houston Rodeo, Live Music

Country Music Through a Different Cultural Lense

fernandez_vicenteComing from a smaller Mexican city 80 miles south of San Diego, my childhood consisted of minimal exposure to any form of country music. While it was possible to hear the iconic melodies of George Strait and Willie Nelson, they held no significance to me. While Mexico has it’s traditional mariachi and ranchera music, of which I’m not too fond of, it seemed as if country music was no more than an American equivalent to said genres. Because of this preconception, it is safe to say I wasn’t changing the radio station to the top 10 country countdown on a regular basis.

However, much of this changed when I first started going to school in the United States. I was shocked when I learned how prominent country music was within the college life, as I knew little to no people back home who enjoyed the “Mexican Country Equivalent.” Suddenly I was being introduced to artists like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, which sounded very different compared to music I initially associated with country. Even still, I was far from a fan and preferred most other types of music.

One of the first true experiences I had that started to open me up came when I was traveling with the tennis team to Tulsa last fall for a tournament. I started talking to one of my teammates from Kansas when I noticed he was listening to “Remember When” by Alan Jackson, and had told him I wasn’t a fan of country music. He couldn’t believe it and started playing various songs from his country playlist, which included both the old school classics and more pop-oriented hits of today. I felt uncomfortable as it seemed like he knew every single word to the songs while it was just my first time hearing most of them.

While this didn’t necessarily change my opinionimages much on the subject, although I enjoyed a few of the songs played, it made me realize that it was hard to classify country music as all sounding the same with similar messages. It wasn’t until I listened to the song “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley that I truly starting enjoying country music. Unlike many of the other messages preached by typical country songs about girls and trucks, I felt like this song was one of the few I could truly related to, coupled with the combination of the male and female voices singing, and became my favorite country music song to date.

Although I may not have been raised in the country environment, nor enjoy it near as much as some of my friends, I can now enjoy and appreciate country music far more than I ever have.


Filed under Blog Post 2

Radical Rednecks

I’m sure most of you who read this title were a little confused, while others of you probably could think of a few times that your favorite country artists said something that went against the staunch-republican-country grain. What may surprise you, though, is that there are more country artists that lean left (in one way or the other) than you think. Here’s a brief list of artists that don’t fit the conservative stereotype of country music completely like you might think they do:

  1. Kacey Musgraves

Alright, this one might be blatantly obvious. Kacey Musgraves’s second single was “Follow Your Arrow,” a song advocating, well, doing whatever the hell makes you happy. This was a very risky decision considering she was just starting out in her career and didn’t have a solid foundation yet, but it’s been met with approval (and some disproval) by her younger target audience. The most obvious “offense” against the stereotype that Musgraves commits is the mention of “kiss[ing] lots of girls, if that’s something you’re into”—it’s no secret that Kasey is a supporter of marriage equality, but did we know that she also supports the use of marijuana? “When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint.” She also makes mention of sex before marriage *gasp*. So risqué, Kasey.

  1. Toby Keith

Are you shocked? I am. With his harsh twang, I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that Keith is a “bleeding heart liberal,” but apparently he is. According to the Witty Bitches website (The name makes me question credibility), Toby Keith advocates for marriage equality, universal healthcare, and women in combat. But, here’s the kicker: he banned guns from his Virginia restaurant. WHAT?! Toby Keith hates the Second Amendment??? Okay, I’m clearly hyperbolizing, but still.

  1. Tim McGraw

Wipe your tears, everyone. Tim McGraw told People magazine that “It’s innate in me to be a blue-dog Democrat.” He and his wife vehemently support President Obama. SURPRISE he also advocates for gun control. And you thought you knew him…. It’s a crying shame.* Actually surprising, though, is that his song “Red Ragtop” touches on the issue of abortion and lyrics indicate that a couple who becomes pregnant decides not to keep their child–very controversial, indeed.

  1. Garth Brooks

Depending on how much you know about Garth Brooks, this might be surprising. Brooks sang at Obama’s 2009 inauguration and is a “long-time democrat.” His song “We Shall Be Free” speaks about being free to love whoever you chose and “worship from our own kind of pew.” He apparently also sings songs about civil rights, race, and domestic violence, some less controversial causes.

  1. The Dixie Chicks

Possibly one of the most obvious on this list, the Dixie Chicks are known for their criticism of President George W. Bush. Perhaps this doesn’t make them liberal, but it certainly puts them at odds with many conservatives. At a show in London in 2003 (introducing the song “Travelin’ Soldier“), lead singer Natalie Maines told the crowd “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”

  1. Willie Nelson

This list would not be complete without our pot-smoking, quasi-religious, country folk star. It is said that once he offered up a joint to Jesus (sweet Willie), but he still believes in reincarnation and wrote a book called the Tao of Willie, detailing Taoism. As you can probably guess, he advocates for the legalization of marijuana. Despite all the criticism that he receives, many country-lovers of every sociopolitical background love their Willie Nelson.

There are many more that make up this list, but these I feel are the most relevant. Regardless of political agendas or causes advocated, we still love our favorite country artists—Keep on keepin’ on.

*note: I am being highly sarcastic and exaggerating in this entire article, especially here.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Garth Brooks, Politics