Author Archives: Abby Bourland

My Country Development

I have grown up in a house that absolutely does not believe in country music. My dad always said, “I would like country music, but I don’t drive a pick up truck or sleep with my sister.” A little extreme if you ask me, but his perspective has kept my knowledge of country music and history in the dark. I have learned more about prominent country artists and the evolution of country music in the past 15 weeks than I have in the past 15 years.

The rhetoric of country music class made me more eager to discover what exactly I had been missing out on. One thing that really sparked my interest was learning about the outlaws. These artists were the transcendentalists within country music, and I admired their talent, dedication, and passion towards making brilliant music despite what others thought. So I was beyond thrilled when I found out Willie Nelson was playing in Fort Worth over Thanksgiving break.

Willie Nelson Concert

IMG_3927This man is a legend, and I got to see him live! The turnout at Billy Bobs was unbelievable. It was amazing to see generations of people there. There were kids my age, their parents, their parents’ parents, and quite possibly their parents’ parents’ parents. Everybody was singing along, dancing, and screaming “Willie Nelson!!!” as he sung some of his famous hits like, “On the Road Again”, “Always on My Mind”, and “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”.

Although our seats were pretty much right next to the entrance, I was analyzing him from the big screen. He is a magnificent performer and took a maximum of two breaths between every song. He sang non-stop for 90 minutes while flawlessly playing the guitar and throwing multiple bandanas to those lucky fans in the front row. His voice was a balance of smooth and nasally with a smoky age to it, while his music offered flavors of bluegrass, Nashville, and folk.

Willie Nelson StatueIMG_3934

His concert led me all the way to his statue in Austin. I was hungry for more information on Willie Nelson and his impact. The singer’s acclaimed musical talent is what prompted the creation of the statue in the first place. The bronze statue was “inadvertently” unveiled on 4/20, which further denoted the stoner reputation Nelson has. His thriving musical career as an outlaw in the country music industry has permanently, pun intended, made him a legendary icon.

Dixie Chicks’ Documentary

After discussing the outlaws of country music in class, I thought about the Dixie Chicks and wondered if they belong under this category after their scandal. I decided to revisit the band’s political mishap and watch their documentary, “Shut Up and Sing”. The main singer, Natalie Maines, decided to disclose a small comment during one of their shows, “…we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas”. This left their career severely wounded and caused families, fans, and American citizens to trash their various Dixie Chicks CDs. Although The Dixie Chicks voiced their honest opinion, they disrespected a large quantity of people in the US and were reprimanded by and removed from multiple radio stations. This same mindset of ‘doing what you want and not caring what others think’ can be found in many prevalent country artists in the ‘70s that are viewed as outlaws. However, such artists, like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, were fighting against Nashville, while the Dixie Chicks were fighting against a bigger and more political problem. Still, such rebelliousness, even though not in the same boat as Jennings and Nelson, can somewhat be considered outlaw.IMG_3936

Since the beginning of the 2015 fall semester, I have done a complete 180 and learned so much about the most popular and historic music genre in Texas. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to take this class and the chance to understand country music in a new light. Watching documentaries about famous country artists, attending a concert of a legendary country icon, and seeing 2000 pound statue of a country singer in the center of downtown, Austin, all help process the impact country music has had on Texas and the people who live in it. I am truly excited to continue my learning and apply what I know to future events.


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 5

Bringing Back The Country In Miley Cyrus

Through the pits and peaks, highs and lows, and ups and downs, it is still evident that Miley Cyrus is musically talented. Starting her career at an early age, Cyrus has always been exposed to the music industry. People now recognize her as a trouble making, rule breaking, pop culture artist who always has her tongue sticking out. However, what some people may have forgotten is that somewhere deep within Cyrus’s heart lie her innate country roots.

miley!!!!@@!!Having Billy Ray Cyrus as a gene donor, Miley Cyrus was born with country in her blood. Many may not see it now, especially since Miley has done a 180 on her appearance both musically and physically, but Cyrus once was young country phenomenon.


Cyrus was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, otherwise known as the home of country music. She grew up on a family farm and lived a country life. Cyrus quickly adopted the love of country music by constantly being surrounded by country music icons, such as her own father, Billy Ray Cyrus, and her godmother, Dolly Parton.

For 5 years, Miley Cyrus devoted her time to having a hidden identity, known as the pop-singer Hannah Montana. Cyrus and her secret identity had a comedy sitcom on Disney Channel, Hannah Montana, which augmented Cyrus’ fame and fan base. Within the show, Cyrus oscillated between the characters of Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana and also between music genres of country and pop.

miley-cyrus-billy-ray-cyrus-dolly-parton-25-years-of-dollywood-jolene-duetIncluded in the show was Billy Ray Cyrus, who coincidentally played the role of her father. Sporadic musical performances by him and country guest appearance Dolly Parton, who also coincidentally played Miley’s godmother, demonstrated the importance of country music to the Cyrus family. It also spread the love of country music to the Disney Channel viewers.

Towards the end of the Hannah Montana series, the “Hannah Montana Movie” was released. Within the movie were country songs that became an instant hit. “Hoedown Throwdown” had kids and teenagers raving about and dancing along to the fast-pace, country banjo beat. On the other hand, “Butterfly Fly Away”, a duet by Miley and Billy Ray, had a slow guitar tone, sounding like a lullaby, that shined a light on the special relationship of a father and daughter, which is a common theme sung about in country music today. Although this duet was popular among the country crowd, their other father-daughter collaboration, “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” made it on the country charts and was nominated for CMT Music Award during the CMT Music Awards in 2008!

As years passed, Cyrus outgrew her Hannah Montana phase and wandered away from her country past. She chopped her hair and started living a life that her fans, and parents of fans, did not condone. Although this drastic change had led people to lose faith in her, Cyrus continues to prove them wrong by recording covers of songs by country legends. Cyrus’ cover of “Jolene” and her country-modified version of, “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”, originally sung by Dolly Parton and Bob Dylan respectively, dropped several jaws. Cyrus continues to cover songs and put a country twist on them, alluring her past country fans and keeping them on their toes. Could this possibly foreshadow the direction of all of her musical productions?

Many think that Miley Cyrus’ pop culture music and lifestyle are just a phase and that soon she will snap out of this funk. Judging by the sounds of her current recordings and knowledge of history repeating itself, it may be destiny that Miley disposes of these habits and reverts to her original country ways.3977141851_378b02e767


Filed under Blog Post 4, Country Pop, Movies and TV

The Country in Spotify

Times are changing, and the way we listen to music is changing too. In 2001, Steve Jobs changed the way we listened to music through his new media player and library called “iTunes” on the new iPod invented. iTunes has been an excellent way for artists to publish their music and become known.

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However, by 2008 Daniel Ek changed the game and came out with Spotify, a music library which enables users to stream music instead of downloading it first. A lot of people adore Spotify because it resembles a social media in that it lets its users follow other users, their playlists, and albums and hit singles of famous artists as well

Every genre of music has multiple playlists available to them, and one of the most popular, loved and favored is Country.


Generations and generations of country music are now available for all to hear. From the ageless, remarkable baritone voice of Johnny Cash, to the prominent ‘King of Country’, George Strait, and all the way to the youngest Grand Ole Opry inductee, Carrie Underwood, Spotify is teeming with some deep rooted and pop cultured country music.

It’s intriguing to note the differences in the sounds of country throughout the ages. The wide range of country artists displayed show the progressions of country music from past to present. Country stars, such as Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Dolly Parton denote the twangy, original country music of the past, while Chris Janson, Thomas Rhett, and Jana Kramer are examples of newer artists that depict the more hip hop gravitated style of country. Although time begets change in popular music, Spotify has made the popular music of the past easily attainable.


The overabundance of country playlists can be overwhelming, but it’s engrossing to discover which songs belong in the most followed playlists. Take the playlist ‘Hot Country’ for example, with almost 2 million followers. It is easy to determine who the most prominent country artists of today’s pop culture are.

It’s a no brainer that Luke Bryan, George Strait, Carrie Underwood, and Tim McGraw have a couple of songs on this playlist. However, many of the artists listed were unfamiliar to me and had songs that drifted toward the newer and more pop sound of bro-country. Bro-country seems to be the more contagious and more prominent type of country listened to in today’s world. There must be something appealing about the combination of rock, hip-hop, and country music.


For other playlists, it really depends on the mood you’re in. Are you looking for some tunes to jam to at a tailgate? Listen to ‘Chillin’ on a Dirt Road’ that has upbeat songs like, ‘Somebody Like You’ by Keith Urban, or ‘Honey Bee’ by Blake Shelton.

Or possibly you’re into a serious and calm mood and just want to listen to soft country. Maybe the “Country Coffeehouse’ with songs like ‘Before These Walls Were Blue’ by Wade Bowen or ‘A Woman Like You’ by Lee Brice would be a better fit.

Maybe if you want to get crazy, you can even listen to ‘Canadian Country’! But why waste your time when you can listen to some good ol’ American country.


With the improvement of technology through the years, country music has been able to reach out to more of its fans and keep them well entertained. Pits and peaks of different subgenres in country music will continue to oscillate as time moves forward. But I wonder with more advancements to come, will country songs and artists of the past be infused and combined with country music in the future?


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 3

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

The Country in Fort Worth

As told from Urban Dictionary, “Fort Worth is the craziest dopest place in Texas”. From a different perspective, Urban Dictionary also says, “Save yourself some time and just move to Dallas.” Twenty years ago, I was born in Fort Worth, Texas and with every passing year, the love for my city grew. The people I familiarized myself with, including my family, friends, peers, etc., all felt the same way. When people ask where I am from, I simply say I am a Fort Worthian, or I originate from the Worthiest of Forts. Living in this great city for my entire life has led me to build a permanent and meaningful community. Those who are Fort Worth bred are proud and share a unanimous collective effervescence. This mutual feeling was accumulated most prominently in schools, where kids would share their ideas and family customs. The Fort Worth public school I attended allowed us to listen to our iPods during recess, and some teachers let us listen to them during class or passing periods. Music is one of the things that enabled me to bond with my fellow classmates. A wide array of genres was also blasted at McLean Middle School. One of the more prominent types of music blared was country music. Growing up in Fort Worth has inadvertently exposed me to the world of country music. Texas is teeming with country music, whether you think it or not. Living in Fort Worth supported the introduction to this type of music. One event that endorsed country music was the Fort Worth Stock Show. At the end of every January and beginning of every February, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo comes to life. The promotion of livestock, horse and bull riding, petting zoos, roller coasters, and country music all coincide into a dollop of fun. This is just one of the factors that constructed my outlook on country music. When high school rolled around, more and more of my friends started going to country concerts at Lone Star. Mardi Gras Texas Style was the one country concert that every kid from Fort Worth and Dallas attended. Bands such as Randy Rogers Band, Turnpike Troubadours, Cody Johnson Band, and more, play their music. Being involved in the Fort Worth community really and truly helped formulate my outlook and perspective on country music. A song that everyone loved in middle school and high school, probably even today, is Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band. This song was huge in Fort Worth. Radio stations including 99.5, 95.9, and 96.7 all repeatedly played this at the same time, almost as though they planned it. Listening to Zac Brown automatically lifted any dark clouds and always put my friends and me in a good mood.


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 1, Class work, Texas