Author Archives: Candace Edgley

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

What Happened To The Wreckers??

the wreckersEverybody has that one album on their iPhone that transforms the “Shuffle All” button into something more like a shot of social cyanide when they’re handed the aux cord. For some people it’s Hannah Montana or Demi Lovato, but for me its Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp’s one and only album: Stand Still, Look Pretty.

The Wreckers had a short run, with very little success, but when I heard “Leave the Pieces” on the radio in February of 2006 it put me on the edge of my seat; my 12 year old self was so convinced she could relate.  The Wreckers were like, my Dixie Chicks for over a year, and when I listen to them now I still enjoy the hell out of it, I can listen to all 12 songs without being annoyed, even if deep down I know I couldn’t do that with any similar artists. They DID win a Grammy in 2006, so their music wasn’t all shame inducing. If you haven’t heard any of their music, or if you’ve only heard “Leave the pieces” and “My oh my” I strongly suggest checking out some of the other songs on that album- they’ve got some great lyrics.

They’re country-pop to the core, but strong female duos in this genre are few and far between, and I think they made a great run out of it, even if it was short and sweet. The 1950’s had The Davis Sisters, the 80’s had The Judds, the millennials have Maddie & Tae, and I had The Wreckers in 2006.

When the duo broke up in 2007 I was devastated, and I’m still secretly holding my breath waiting for them to make a comeback, as pathetic as that may be- I think because of their premature termination they get overlooked a lot- and even if I wouldn’t bump them in my buddy’s jeep on the way to 6th, I think they deserve more credit than people realize. It was definitely a poor career move on their part to split up in favor of pursuing their own solo music careers, because they’ve yet to release anything even remotely noteworthy since their split, I can’t imagine why they’d decide to split after such impressive feedback… Michelle Branch collects eggs from chickens in her backyard and Jessica’s current situation isn’t discernible, maybe she’s in “Tennessee” with the one that got away.

I hope this post leads you to rediscover (or maybe just discover) The Wreckers and their brief country music career.

“‘Cause I can guarantee / Things are sweeter in Tennessee”


Filed under Country Pop, Women

How Do You Like Me Now?

unnamed-1I inherited my love for Toby Keith from my mother, along with a pair of boots signed by him at
the Harris County Fair circa 1996. The only thing we ever listened to in the kitchen was his “Boomtown” album. Artists like Toby, Tim, and Kenny were pretty much the extent of my country music awareness until I turned 10, and I don’t have any complaints about it at all.

Toby Keith Country MusicI knew for sure I would be a “Whiskey Girl” when I was in the 3rd grade; I was wrong… so, so wrong- whiskey does NOT make me frisky, whiskey makes me sob uncontrollably. That being said, Toby Keith is known for rambunctious, “Get Drunk and Be Somebody”-esque songs. He gets a bad rap for being some kind of ignorant wash-up who killed country music, but I think that’s pretty unbased as far as his music is concerned.  He’s had his controversies, but he HAS great music. “I Love This Bar” as much as the next girl, and I wanted to share a few of my favorite songs both performed AND written by Keith that don’t really embody what most country fans would consider a typical TK song.

“Woman Behind the Man” is from his Boomtown album, and it’s a far more compelling love song than “Whiskey Girl” could even come close to. The song displays a capacity for love that an everyday country music fan wouldn’t begin to imagine possible of Toby. Similar in theme to “Stand Beside Me” by Jo Dee Messina, it’s a great example of women being viewed as equals and a healthy relationship, not based on tattoos or blue jeans.

“Every Night” is another example of Toby engaging with a more sensitive side, understanding the heartache and pain that a woman he is interested in is dealing with. It’s far from a boot stomping, beer drinking, all-american honky-tonk jive.

I love “Yesterday’s Rain” because even though the lyrics themselves are unabashedly miserable, it still manages to be a catchy song with a lively instrumental. It’s pretty typical country (albeit corporate) but it still stands out from the general Toby impression.

This is probably the most popular of the songs listed, and most people wouldn’t list ‘stoner’ as one of Toby Keith’s characteristics, it would fall farrrr below drunk and obnoxious; this song goes to prove just that. However, the song does mention his “great contact high” and he gives in and smokes again at the end of the song, so I like to think he came around at least a little bit. Also it’s just a fun TK song that I think is at least a little bit different from his typical rowdy redneck bad rap.

Hopefully after listening to these songs (and checking out his albums to find more on your own), you too will admit that his work has many dimensions, and I also hope to swing some fans in his favor- he’s a fun guy! I’m not saying he’s the next Albert Einstein, but his music doesn’t constantly cycle between tramp stamps, trucks, and red solo cups.


Filed under New Country

Montgomery Gentry

It’s so easy to forget that artists are people with real lives and traumas, not just singer/ song-writers that gain life experience solely for the purpose of putting it in a song. Eddie Montgomery is the better half of the musical group ‘Montgomery Gentry’ alongside Troy Gentry. This past week, Eddie Montgomery’s son was involved in a fatal car accident, a horror I can’t even begin to understand. I spent my entire life listening to Montgomery Gentry on the radio in the car and never once did I wonder about either of their families, or the things they might be dealing with. Upon further investigation, I learned that Montgomery had to undergo treatment for prostate cancer, was divorced by his wife (in the same month), AND closed a restaurant he owned all in under a few years. Doesn’t sound like an easy road to walk to me. I couldn’t have told you ANY of that but I sure can spout their album history off from memory, I could probably hit most of their singles as well.

The duo released their first album in 1999, and ‘Lonely and Gone‘ is one of my favorite country songs to date. Their southern rock influence, in tandem with their small-town, proud and loud personalities makes them one of the cooler country music artists in my opinion, aside from Gentry being kind of a dick, I try not to focus on that too much (exhibit A of people blatantly ignoring a musicians personal life and only caring about their music), alongside my personal favorite Toby Keith. Steven Huey of Allmusic referred to them as “multi-platinum country megastars noted for a soulful twang and a big black cowboy hat” and “rowdy redneck rebels who still hold small-town values”, and I really don’t think I could put it better myself. From ‘Daddy Won’t Sell the Farm” to ‘Work Hard, Play Harder’ their sound has been consistent, rambunctious, and in my opinion, it’s been great.

I don’t know if its really a problem that in lieu of scandal or controversy American culture cares more about the song than the artist behind it, I mean to be fair the singers probably appreciate the distance it gives them. Hunter’s death just brought it to my attention. The personal lives of songwriters are the only thing that influences their songs and we care so little about one and so greatly about the latter.  RIP Hunter, and my condolences to Eddie Montgomery.


Filed under Blog Post 2, News, Rockabilly, Southern Rock

ATX: My Favorite Beach


My freshman year at UT felt like one long, endless, horrible day. It was my backup plan to say the least, and a place I ended up due more to my parent’s desires than my own. I actually paid for housing at A&M! (dark days for me)- Austin was not a place I wanted to be; it was a dirty hippie town with too much pop culture for me to handle. I spent my days dreaming of the east coast, of the beach, just wanting to get away. Between the “foreign car drivin’ [frat] dudes”, their “road rage attitudes”, and a pretty nasty oral infection: my freshman year went a LOT like Blake Shelton’s day in “Some Beach”.

[Editor’s note: Shelton’s YouTube account apparently does not allow this video to be embedded in posts published on sites like this one.]

Shockingly, once I left my dorm room and ventured out into the UT atmosphere- aside from just going to class and back- I realized maybe I was being a little close-minded. I joined a spirit organization on campus, the Texas Angels (also very much instigated by my mother, she’s very persuasive), and began to branch out a little more. I found my niche in an otherwise overwhelming city and I have gained several close friends over the past year, I definitely wouldn’t move to the east coast now, even if I had the opportunity.

Everyone told me how incredible Austin was and how much I was going to love UT before I left, but I was way too fixated on a some beach fantasy to even give it a shot. Every time I listen to this song I want to go back in time, grab myself by the shoulders and scream STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES! THE BEACH SUCKS IT’S JUST SAND IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES AND JELLYFISH AND THE OCCASIONAL WARDROBE MALFUNCTION! Blake Shelton was clearly having a rough day, but out of that came a really catchy song with a very happy vibe that makes me think even Shelton knows he’ll feel better tomorrow.

tumblr_mk9f79EoKN1riqywyo5_250I’m not sure why this song still makes me think of my freshman year of college, maybe because I’d still love to live a life in constant vacation-mode, or because you can’t get take a trip down 35 without getting honked at by some road-rager at least once, but regardless, I turn the radio up every time it comes on. As I’ve grown to love and engage with the beautiful city of Austin, I’ve also grown to realize that Austin is a city where I can truly be myself, I can interact with great and interesting people, I can even drink a margarita and I don’t have to worry about when the last time I applied sunscreen was. ATX is my beach.


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Filed under Blog Post 1