Author Archives: Erin McAtee

About Erin McAtee

is a senior Biology and Spanish major at The University of Texas. She plans on attending medical school in the fall, and spends her time leading the Longhorn Band and interpreting for Spanish-speaking patients at a Volunteer Healthcare Clinic in Austin. She has been in Texas since the age of 10 but didn't discover her love for country music until 10 years later. Her favorite artists are Zac Brown Band and Tim McGraw.

Walk the Line: The Music of June Carter Cash

imageGrowing up, I have many memories of listening to music in the car while on trips. While it was sometimes the radio, or Christmas music around the holidays, I specifically remember listening to the Walk the Line soundtrack with my mom after she watched the movie. We would alternate between Johnny Cash’s deep, booming voice and Joaquin Phoenix’s well-executed covers of the Cash originals. This weekend, I watched Walk the Line for the first time and while I was impressed with the story of Johnny Cash, I was particularly struck by Reese Witherspoon and her portrayal of June Carter. June was a popular female singer, having gained fame from her early performances with the Carter Family. Her portrayal in the film is more focused on her relationship with Cash, but her talent as a singer is also notable. I decided to put together a list of my favorite June Carter songs, including some performed by Witherspoon in the movie.

5. “Juke Box Blues”

This song was one of the first I heard in the movie that really sparked my interest in June Carter. The song’s instrumentation is really simple, featuring drums, slide guitar, and brief moments of piano. However, June’s swing with her voice and lively personality drew my attention in a song with repetitive melodic lines.

4. “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”

June Carter first recorded her cover of this song in 1999 at age 70 on her album Press On. The song is just as simple in instrumentation as “Juke Box Blues”. Her version of this song is unique in her subtle vibrato, use of dynamic contrast at the end of each line, and her hints of swing between notes.

3. “Ring of Fire”

This song is most famously known as one of Johnny Cash’s greatest hits, but it was interesting to learn that June Carter actually wrote the song and recorded her own version. Her version changes the rhythms and uses more stereotypically “country” instruments, like fiddle and percussion instruments.

2. “Wildwood Flower”

This song reminds me a lot of “Juke Box Blues” in its repetition of the melodic line. Her pronunciation of the lyrics in the song helps to make it unique, like “flor” instead of “flower”. While the song is sad and could get monotonous, June Carter’s voice is upbeat and positive, implying that she has emotional strength to get through depressing times.

1. “Jackson”

This song is definitely my favorite of June Carter’s, largely because it features Johnny Cash in a duet. Their chemistry is evident in this song, with hollers at each other during their individual features. In addition, the song is fun and upbeat, and the harmony between Cash’s deep sultry voice and Carter’s fun scooping soprano make the sound unique.


Filed under Country Symbols, Movies and TV, Women

Erin’s Experiences in Country Music

This semester through my Rhetoric of Country Music course, I dedicated some of my time into exploring the history and culture of country music. I attended an Eric Church concert in Austin, watched Walk the Line, took a picture with Willie Nelson’s statue, and read a copy of Texas Music Magazine.

This semester through my Rhetoric of Country Music course, I dedicated some of my time into exploring the history and culture of country music. I attended an Eric Church concert in Austin, watched Walk the Line, took a picture with Willie Nelson’s statue, and read a copy of Texas Music Magazine.

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Filed under Austin, Class work, Reflection, Storify

“Take Your Time” Video Has a Surprising Theme

imageEvery morning on my drive to school, I listen to The Bobby Bones Show broadcast on a country radio station in Austin. During spring break while listening, Bobby, the show’s head personality, was discussing Sam Hunt and his newly released music video for “Take Your Time”. Interestingly enough, the music video revolves around domestic violence, a highly publicized topic in the media since Ray Rice was charged with assault on his wife in 2012. After having listened to the song, I was surprised by the message of the video; it seemed to me like a song about romance, and a guy who wants to treat a girl right. After much discussion on the radio about how the music video fits with the song, I decided it was worth looking into.

The video opens with a confusing fight scene between two unrecognizable people, and the song starts with Sam Hunt walking away from the camera. The video alternates between these two people interacting and Hunt walking down a street. Hunt and the woman have multiple run-ins, but don’t actually interact. This woman takes care of cleaning up after her boyfriend, evident by the large quantity of beer bottles in their home. After the first chorus, the woman and her boyfriend are seen fighting, which takes an emotional toll on the woman. After he gets in a fight in the bar, the couple gets into a fight and he hits her. She proceeds to lock herself in their room while he is outside the door, and begins packing her clothes and her son to move. As she’s about to get into the car, her husband starts hitting her again. Sam Hunt comes up off the street and intervenes, allowing the girl to get away. The video closes out with the boyfriend walking off and the woman and baby safe, but with a large bruise on her cheekbone.

After watching the video, I can completely see how the song connects with the theme of the music video. His lyrics say “I don’t want to steal your freedom”, which clarifies that his intentions are only to help her, instead of taking advantage of her vulnerability in the situation. He also states that “[he] ain’t gotta call you mine”, implying that his interest is more focused in helping her with her situation than fulfilling his desires. Overall, I thought the music video was extremely relatable and deeply intertwined with the lyrics of the song. Sam Hunt portraying a character who acts a Good Samaritan is a great image to perpetuate as he gains more momentum in the music industry. I fully support the belief that the song and the movie follow the same plot line, and I think Hunt does a good job bringing a negative situation to public attention without being depressing.

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Filed under Music Videos, Reviews

Assessing the Grammy’s, Country Music Style

The Grammy Awards reign as music’s most important award show, but not necessarily to country music. The country genre is generally not recognized by the major awards, like Best New Artist and Song of the Year, but the awards within the the genre help to provide it with more exposure. In particular, the performances by country artists allow the genre to perform for a new audience, and show off their unique production and performance style.

Miranda Lambert’s performance of “Little Red Wagon” started witimageh her showing off an incredible and well-planned outfit. She wore a black jumpsuit which emulated a Top-40 mantra, but reflected her roots with some snazzy cowboy boots. Her set design featured neon red lights, fireworks and smoke. But the most interesting part of her performance was the censorship by CBS of some of the lyrics. I’ve listened to a lot of her songs, and while mainly on the radio, I’ve never picked up on any of her content to be remotely inappropriate. After doing some research (or just googling the lyrics), I was kind of surprised that an entire line of her song was bleeped out for the use of one common expletive. Truthfully, it took away from the end of what was a spectacular live performance by Lambert.

imageThe second country performance of the night was by Eric Church, who got the opportunity to sing “Give Me Back My Hometown” in addition to being nominated in four categories, including Best Country Album for The Outsiders. Unlike the radio edit, the instrumentation includes a banjo melody that really brings the country roots to the Grammy’s stage. The backdrop contained stop motion film of various scenes featuring destruction of many hometowns throughout the world. At the bridge, the film shows all the scenes in reverse, providing the audience hope for the end of city violence. I thought his performance, while his sunglasses added an always interesting element, was really well put together and a highlight among a lineup with many emotional performances.

Brandy Clark, in addition to being nominated for Best New Artist and Best Country Album, got to perform an acoustic version of her song “Hold Your Hand” with Dwight Yoakam. I haven’t actually heard Brandy Clark before, and didn’t know how big of a deal she was, until I noticed she was nominated for Best New Artist among big names like Iggy Azalea and Sam Smith. The performance was the most natural of the night, and the smooth alto voice of Clark drew my attention to the song.

imageOverall, I thought the country performances of the night all showcased unique aspects of country music: acoustic guitar, banjo, and an uptempo powerful confidence. In particular, I hope to hear more of Brandy Clark on country radio — I think she’s soon to be a force to be reckoned with.

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Filed under Awards, Live Music, Movies and TV

Saturday Night Live: Where’s the Country?

SNL1674_BLAKE_SHELTON_FULL_EPISODEA couple weekends ago, Saturday Night Live gave a country musician the chance to host the show for the first time since Taylor Swift headlined in 2009. While the episode didn’t get the greatest ratings, it allowed Blake Shelton to get country music back onto an important musical stage. In an era where country music is put on the back burner to feature artists whose musical tours are more of a production than a performance, Blake Shelton may have opened the door for country to be featured on television again.

After realizing I hadn’t heard country music on SNL in recent memory, I stumbled upon a CMT timeline of country hosts and performers since the show’s inception in 1975. In the earlier years of Saturday Night Live, country artists were featured in higher frequency. In the year 1982, both Johnny Cash and Charlie Daniels Band performed on SNL within weeks of each other. Willie Nelson has been featured as both a musical guest and a host/participant. All three of these artists drew attention to country music through televised media, whether they were in a skit mocking country music or performing their songs to a sold-out crowd. However, only two artists performed on SNL in the entire decade of the 90s. So my question is, what happened?


The 90s might be a musical decade highlighted by the rise of stars like Britney Spears and *NSYNC, but many great country groups enjoyed sound careers during this time. Even since the rise of the boyband, Justin Timberlake has been featured on SNL multiple times. Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s In Love With The Boy” is a song I remember hearing as a kid, before I even got into country music. Alabama received multi-platinum success on several albums from the 80s through the 00s, but they were never a host or performance feature on the sketch-comedy show.

While country music is less popular than Top-40 style pop, the artists are frequently commended for their fan interaction and genuine persona in an industry in which these traits are few and far between. Wouldn’t a people-pleaser be a great choice for the host of SNL? Someone who could work well with others in a skit and is also able to give a great live performance at the end? I’d be curious to see what the producers of SNL have to say about their continued decisions of a lack of country music presence.


Filed under Live Music, Movies and TV, Reviews