Author Archives: Hannah Evans

A Whole New World of Country

Four months ago, I was one of those girls that “true” country music fans hate. Most of my favorite country songs fell into the “bro-country” genre, and were from the likes of Luke Bryan, Chris Young, and Blake Shelton. I’m happy to say that the Rhetoric of Country Music class has opened my eyes to a whole new world of country music. This course has not only taught me extensively about the history of the genre, but has allowed me to better experience the country music scene here in Austin and beyond. Three of my favorite experiences are listed below:

1. Texas Music Magazine

I read the November 2014 issue of Texas Music Magazine to get a flashback to what was happening in the country Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 6.23.21 PMmusic world a year ago. This issue features a variety of interesting, well-written content including: a discussion of Miranda Lambert at the CMA’s, a review of Glen Cambell’s documentary I’ll Be Me, an interview with James McMurty, a Q&A with Steve Young, and more! I was expecting to see a greater representation of genres, but the content in this issue makes it quite clear that country dominates the Texas music scene (yay!).

2. Sturgill Simpson @ ACL Weekend 1

IMG_2410In a sea of alternIMG_2422ative and rap artists, I found the time to catch Sturgill Simpson’s show on Saturday, October 3rd at the Austin City Limits music festival. My country-music-loving friend tagged along with me, and despite not knowing much of Sturgill Simpson’s music, we still had a great time listening and (making an attempt at) dancing. My favorite song he played was Railroad of Sin; all of the guitar solos were so much fun! Overall, it was definitely an older crowd and the atmosphere was a lot more calm than most of the other shows I went too. I didn’t get a chance to see Dwight Yoakam so I’m glad Sturgill Simpson was there to provide me with my country music fix!

3. Dallas (2012)

giphy (11)Despite being a radio-television-film major, I’m not a big television-watcher. In order to broaden my horizons a little bit, I decided to check out a few episodes of the show Dallas on Netflix. Unfortunately, this show reminded me exactly why I don’t enjoy TV dramas and soap operas (sorry Dallas fans!)–I found it to be painfully overdramatic and ridiculously corny. For those who haven’t seen the show or it’s 1978 CBS predecessor, Dallas follows a family who strike it rich drilling oil in the great state of Texas. Despite my distaste of the plot and acting, the first few episodes did include some great country songs–one of my personal favorites being Josh Turner’s “Your Man”From what I gathered, the series provides a decent mix of country songs from different sub-genres and time periods. It also included many songs from different genres (alternative, rock, etc.).

Coming into this class this past fall, I was a little worried about not being as knowledgeable about the older artists and the history of the genre as some of my peers. Although this worry turned out to be true (I embarrassingly didn’t know who Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, and Alan Jackson were four months ago…), I am so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to expand my country music horizons.

Whether it be through reading a magazine, seeing a live show, or watching a television series, this class has helped me enjoy the genre in a whole new way. I have gained a deeper understanding of country music’s progression throughout time, and grown to appreciate the genre and its impact. Listening to country will truly never be the same!


Filed under Blog Post 5, Reflection

Justin Moore: The Real Champagne Papi

To anyone who has ever made fun of country music (I’m looking at you dad!), please watch this video. Then, watch it again. Then go ahead and remind me how “all country music is meaningless and sounds the same” while you jam to Drake in the background. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that “Hotline Bling” is quickly taking over the U.S. It’s quite scary that a song about receiving a booty call from an ex-girlfriend is virtually more well-known than all of Justin Moore’s songs combined.

giphy (9)On Tuesday Nov. 3, Phoenix radio station KNIX Country 102.5 posted a video of Justin Moore reading the lyrics to “Hotline Bling,” demonstrating the song’s senseless (and just plain dumb) lyrics. Featuring Moore’s southern accent and sarcastic tone, the hilarious video quickly went viral and was played more than five million times the day it was posted. On YouTube, most of Justin Moore’s more-popular music videos have a maximum of ten million views for the entire period they’ve been online. One could argue that “Hotline Bling” has made Justin Moore more famous than his hits like “Small Town USA” and “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” did!

Justin Moore grew up working on his grandparent’s cattle farm in a small town in Arkansas. He began singing at the age of two, and continued to pursue his dream of making music throughout his youth. Upon graduating high school, he moved to Nashville where he eventually earned some opening spots on tours with artists like Luke Bryan, Trace Adkins, and Brooks & Dunn.

In 2008, Moore released his first single, “Back That Thing Up,” and made it onto Billboard’s “Country Top 40” chart. He released a second single, “Small Town USA,” in 2009; it reached number one on Billboard’s “Hot Country” chart and paved the way for his self-titled debut album.

Fast-forward a few years and Moore is still going strong. In 2014 he received the New Artist of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music Awards. He just released his (cleverly-named) latest single, “You Look Like I Need a Drink,” on Oct. 30. while he continues to work on his fourth album.

Justin Moore is a great example of a kid who had a dream, and reached it through hard work and dedication. I am hopeful that he’ll continue to release high-quality work and mark his territory in the country music world. Move over Drake because Justin Moore is the real Champagne Papi.

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Filed under Blog Post 4, Music Videos, Reflection

5 Seriously Creepy Country Songs to Get You in the Mood for Halloween

When creating the perfect Halloween playlist, country music probably isn’t the first genre that comes to mind. But, from a song about Hank William’s ghost to one about a Voodoo witch, this list of 5 country songs might prevent you from getting a full night of beauty sleep. Listen/read/watch at your own risk…(cue evil laughter)

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1. “Midnight in Montgomery” (1992) – Alan Jackson

Written by Alan Jackson and Don Sampson, this song tells the story of a creepy encounter with Hank William’s ghost. Filled with imagery of a chilly and windy night, you can’t help but feel a slight urge to sleep with the lights on (and avoid Montgomery at all costs). The narrator questions whether the ghost “was ever really there” or just a figment of his imagination….I guess we’ll never know.

2. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (1979) – Charlie Daniels Band

Written and performed by the Charlie Daniels Band, this song recounts a fiddling contest between a boy named Johnny and the devil. It alludes to the classic motif of the deal with the devil. The intensity of the fiddles keeps you on your toes throughout the whole song. But (spoiler alert) thankfully Johnny wins the contest in the end so you can rest a little easier.

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3. “Marie Laveau” (1974) – Bobby Bare

Written by Shel Silverstein and Baxter Taylor, this song is about Marie Laveau—a 19th century Voodoo practitioner. The upbeat tone of the song really contrasts the creepy story Bare tells. But, the hissing/howling sound that Bare makes as Laveau kills each victim is enough to make you cringe. This song is a warning for men: treat every woman well because you never know when she could actually turn out to be a witch…

4. “(Pardon Me) I’ve Got Someone to Kill” (1978) – Johnny Paycheck

There’s no beating around the bush in this song composed by Johnny Paycheck and Aubrey Mayhew; his intentions are clear and concise. He sings about killing a man who took his woman away from him. He doesn’t care that he’ll “surely die” for committing this murder since he’s a “dead man anyhow” without her. Lesson learned, Johnny: don’t mess with a cowboy’s girl.

5. “Country Death Song” (1984) – Violent Femmes

With a name like Violent Femmes, it’s pretty obvious that this artist probably isn’t someone you want to take home to mom. In “Country Death Song”, Femmes tells the story of real event where a man intentionally threw his daughter into a well and then hung himself. Enough said.

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The storytelling nature of country music transforms these songs into “ghost stories” in a sense. If you remove the instruments/melody and simply read the lyrics aloud over the campfire in the woods…you’d probably make a few people wide-eyed and paranoid. If you’re looking for a last-minute Halloween costume, Hank William’s ghost or Marie Laveau might be the perfect fit. Party safe.

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Filed under Blog Post 3, Lists, Song Analysis

Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time”: A Music Video Review

sam-hunt-instagramDebuting his first full-length studio album Montevallo in late 2014, Sam Hunt is fairly new to the country music scene. Upon first listening, I found him to be fairly similar to the rest of the up and coming bro-country singers; he didn’t appear to have an incredibly distinct sound or look (though I can’t deny that he’s completely gorgeous), and his lyrics seemed to discuss nothing more than beautiful women. This was also my first impression of his song “Take Your Time” (2015)—I thought it was simply about trying to pick up a girl in a bar. However, after watching the music video for this song, I now have a deeper understanding of the song itself and a heightened respect for Sam Hunt as an artist.

The “Take Your Time” video is a completely unexpected presentation of the song as it tackles the difficult and raw topic of domestic violence. The video starts off happily by showing a woman, her husband/boyfriend, and their baby shopping together and enjoying kisses on the forehead. However, the story quickly turns dark as the man’s alcoholic tendencies and anger issues are exposed. Sam, watching these events unfold as a bystander, tries to find the best way to intervene. At the end of the video, he finally fights the man off while the woman and her baby escape in a beaten up pickup truck.

Sam’s lyrics “I don’t wanna steal your freedom / I don’t wanna change your mind / I don’t have to make you love me / I just wanna take your time” discusses his hesitancy in intervening in what appears to be an unsafe and troubling relationship. Sam is put in a difficult position as he struggles to find the courage to trust his instincts and take action. He isn’t trying to get the girl to fall for him, but instead is truly concerned about her well-being and wants her to “take [the] time” to get help.

I am completely impressed with Sam’s use of this video to promote social change and make a statement about something so real and under-discussed. Bringing issues to light is one of the first steps in creating change, and this song is the perfect example of how musicians possess the power to fight for causes that they care about. I’m excited to see where the rest of Sam’s career takes him, and am hopeful that he will continue to use his talent and passion to make a difference—ultimately encouraging others to follow in his footsteps.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Bro Country, Music Videos, Reviews, Song Analysis

Country Music: California’s Forbidden Fruit

Where I grew up in southern California, country music is like a forbidden fruit. If you think about it, talk about it, or listen to it (God forbid), you’re inevitably evil. No one in their right mind would find country music pleasant to listen to. If you ask your average civilian from my hometown what their favorite type of music is, it would likely go something like this: “Uhm I’m in to rap, hip hop, indie…I mean I love a little bit of everything…oh, except country, of course”.

Of course.

Similarly, my dad always jokes that if it isn’t about trucks, beer, breaking up with girls, or your dog dying, “it ain’t country”. This is a reasonable observation, but it hurts my heart a little nonetheless.

Despite the lack of country music enthusiasts within the area I grew up, I can’t complain about much else. Surrounded by palm tress, in-n-out, and the beach, I feel very fortunate to consider myself a part of the southern California community. But living here for 18+ years has definitely had an impact on the way I view this genre of music.

For example, it’s considered common courtesy to ask the passengers in your car if they like country music before tuning your radio to the one country station that’s available. I cut people a little slack though, because up until the summer before my junior year of high school, I was the same way. The genre had no appeal to me whatsoever and I just didn’t like the way it sounded. It took stumbling on the playlist “Country Favorites” on 8tracks to get me hooked.

The playlist features artists such as Luke Bryan, Chris Cagle, and Gary Allen. I found every song to be incredibly catchy and evoke this positive feeling of nostalgia that I had never experienced with other types of music. The collection of songs touched on everything I dreamt of about the perfect summer: having a boy fall hopelessly in love with me, driving down a long road and singing at the top of my lungs, staying up and watching the stars, making memories with lifelong friends, and whatever else I thought was cool when I was 16.

Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” was the epitome of this summer dream I had. He discusses the feeling of invincibility that many experience when they’re a teenager. Many young people long to “never grow up” and feel as if “[they’re] comin’ alive” as Owen sings.

It’s possible that the negative connotation southern Californians generally associate with country music is due to the fact that the genre tends to be associated with Southern culture. They may assume it doesn’t relate to their own lifestyle or beliefs. However, many of the ideas surrounding growing up, feeling on top of the world, and falling in love are universal, and therefore completely compatible with the lifestyle of a typical southern Californian.

tumblr_nfneiv8TdB1rcrcdeo1_1280In the next few years, I am hopeful that more country artists will begin sprouting up from the west coast, and more people will start to love the genre as much as I do. And maybe, just maybe, Jake Owen will eventually change his lyrics to “a southern California summer, barefoot blue jean night”.


Filed under Blog Post 1, Class work, New Country