Note: This is an example of Blog Post 5, in which you are asked to reflect on different experiences you had over the course of the semester.
Three of the things related to country music that I have done throughout the semester that have shaped my perception of the genre include watching the Dixie Chicks Documentary “Shut Up and Sing,” exploring new featured Country artists in an issue of Garden and Gun Magazine, and attending a Jerry Jeff Walker Concert at Gruene Hall. Each of these things has given me a unique insight into what the world of country music has to offer.
Let me first dive into “Shut Up and Sing” and explain my take on it. To start, you should know that I am a huge Dixie Chicks fan and had never actually done the research to find out why they fell off the face of the planet about 13 years ago. I knew it had to do with slamming Bush but I didn’t know what exactly was said and why it had such a huge effect on their career. After watching the documentary, I can see why their words upset so many people. In short, Natalie Maines, the head singer, expressed that she was ashamed the President was from Texas regarding his decisions on the war in Iraq. Her comment caused radio stations to ban their music from being played as a consequence. This documentary has shown me just how conservative the world of country music is at large.
Secondly, I have learned more about Country music through my discovery of several artists featured in Garden and Gun Magazine. These include Aubrey Sellers, Parker Millsap, Margo Price, and Andrew Combs. Of these, my favorite is Parker Millsap. He brings a kind of different flavor to the country scene. His music has a country sound with a little bluesy, rock and roll feel. I typically am not a huge fan of genre mash-ups but for some reason Parker Millsap does it for me. Through this discovery, I have broadened my horizons and become more open-minded to different takes on Country Music.
And lastly, my experience at Jerry Jeff’s concert at Gruene Hall has left a lasting impression of why I love Country Music so much. When you look around and not a soul in the crowd is wearing something other than cowboy boots, you know you’re in good company. I have been to several Jerry Jeff concerts in the past but something about Gruene Hall made this one particularly special. It was a two-steppin, singing every word to every song, surrounded by good people kind of night. I can’t think of a better way to see one of the greats do what he does best.
Each of these experiences has shaped my view of Country Music. Whether it clarified a characteristic of the genre, opened my eyes to new aspects, or solidified why I am such a fan, I have learned something from each one. My perception over the course of this semester has been stretched and has grown into a deeper appreciation for the greatest type of music known to man. I am now that much more confident that Country Music is my all time favorite type of music.
Chris Stapleton is new but old and he’s the real deal. He was born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1978 making him 38 years old. He moved to Nashville in 2001 to begin his music career but settled as merely a songwriter for 15 whole years. That’s a lot of time to put in to make hundreds of songs that ultimately became someone else’s. Six of those songs became number ones including, “Never wanted Nothing More,” by Kenny Chesney, “Love’s Gonna Make it Alright,” by George Strait, and “Come Back Song,” by Darius Rucker. The problem is, everyone knows these songs but there’s not a chance anyone knows Chris Stapleton wrote them. It’s about time he gets a little credit around here. He finally got behind the mic in 2015 and started making a bigger name for himself. His debut album, Traveler, did really well and won this small town country and bluegrass artist tons of awards. It reached number one on the Billboard 200. He also won awards for Best Male Vocalist, New Artist of the Year, and Album of the Year.
The best thing about Chris Stapleton is that he is a new artist but he has an older more authentic style of music than everything else on the radio right now. He’s not in it for the fame he just loves playing good music. Nashville Scene Magazine said, “While critics agree that Stapleton’s literally overnight success is changing the trajectory of modern country music, ushering in a new era of commercially viable substance, success isn’t changing the man himself.” He seems just like a really talented normal guy who happens to be climbing up the fame ladder. Knowing that he is a humble guy makes me appreciate him and his music that much more. You get the sense that his music is organic, true to who he is, and just a form of self-expression. He clearly loves what he does and that kind of passion goes a long way. The humble artist told Nashville Scene magazine, “I think it would be radical to have this little, tiny stage that only fits the band(…)The audience can get as close to you as they want to get, on the floor, and not a lot of bells and whistles, and [we] just walk out there and play music. I think that would be a radical thing to do in an arena-type setting. I think if I went and saw that, it would blow my mind.” He wants to bring back the good ole country we once had and move past the modern day poppy crud. I’m all for Chris and I think he has the potential to really impact the world of country music. Keep doin your thing Chris Stapleton, we’re really picking up what your putting down.
He isn’t called the King for nothing. George Strait is one of the most popular and influential artists of all time that will forever go down in history as one of the best. He holds a record for 57 number 1 hits. Let that sink in for a second… 57 songs that were ranked as number 1! If that isn’t enough validation for his nickname, I don’t know what is. He is third only to Elvis Presley and The Beatles for having the most gold and platinum albums in the history of music. He is the only artist from any genre ever to have a top ten hit song every year for thirty stinking years. He is the man!! He has always been one of my favorite artists because he really knows who he is. He stays true to his “traditionalist country” style and definitely rocks his cowboy hat. He isn’t some wannabe or try hard country artist, he’s the real deal. He is known for being one of the main artists to bring country back to its roots and away from the upcoming popular style of pop country that started in the 80’s. With his first single in 1981, “Unwound,” he started what would soon become a very successful 35-year career full of hit songs, none of which wavered from his original traditional style. If you look at every song he has sung throughout the years, his style truly remained the same. From his first hit, “Fool Hearted Memory,” to his latest hit album “Cold Beer Conversation,” George has stayed true to the artist he once was and has proven to be one of the most authentic artists around. Taste of Country says, “So many of Strait’s most recent releases could be found on albums from the ‘80s, ‘90s or ’00s, and “Cold Beer Conversation” is no different. It’s smooth and timeless, but subtly different from all that have come before it.” When I think of what makes a song or an artist country I think of the twang in the artists’ voice, the simple instruments like guitar and piano, and the story-like lyrics that touch on the life of a cowboy. George Strait has all of these aspects in each of his songs, which in my opinion makes for some real country. Some of my favorite songs of his are “Check Yes or No,” “Carrying your love with me,” and “The Chair.” He is a pro at writing love songs. George Strait really knows what he is doing and for that he will leave a huge mark on Country music. His legacy goes on as the King of Country Music. All hail King George!
Florida Georgia Line is a duo that formed out of Nashville in 2010 that has brought an interesting twist to Country music since their start. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard met at Belmont University in a worship group on campus and there dreamt up the idea of becoming a famous country duo. And not to my surprise, who else but the Nickelback producer, Joey Moi, was the one who discovered them. This seems only fitting because the two bands in my opinion are very similar. How would I describe Nickelback Fans? There are two kinds. One group of fans is full of fervent followers who listen to Nickelback and Nickelback only, go to every concert, and proudly proclaim them as their favorite band. The other group of fans is full of followers who only secretly listen to Nickelback songs in fear of being shamed by the rest of society. These two groups of fans are the same for Florida Georgia Line followers. Because many people hate on the band, if you love them, you either shout it from the mountaintops or you secretly know every lyric while denying ever having heard of them.
Florida Georgia Line has three albums comprised of very catchy songs, I’ll admit, but they are in no sense of the word Country. On their website they even admit to being different claiming to be, “artists who defy trends to pave something new, something original, something maybe a little shocking at the time.” I would say their style is definitely shocking… Do you think King George would listen to their new album, Anything Goes, on his way to the rodeo? I don’t think so. In my opinion, they are just another pop band that happens to have a little twang in their voice. Since forming in 2010, Florida Georgia Line has brought something totally new to the Country Genre. In the past 5 years they have had five number 1 singles on Country radio charts, which makes me wonder who is actually listening to these stations. But let’s talk about one specific hit single that has brought much controversy to Country Music listeners…
Cruise (Remix). Bum bum bummm. Now let me ask you something, when is it ever okay to pair a Hip Hop rapper, Nelly, with a small town duo who claims to be Country? The two just don’t go hand in hand. The country rap single has been detrimental to classic Country Music because now other artists like Thomas Rhett with I Feel Good (ft Lunchmoney Lewis) and Blake Shelton with Boys ‘Round Here (ft Pistol Annies & Friends) think it’s okay to mix the two genres. Music is split into genres for a reason and it should stay that way. Florida Georgia Line and the other artists I mentioned have the potential to really do well because each one is very talented, but please for the love of Country Music, steer clear of these poppy lyrics and featured rappers.
I come from a Texas sized family who for over 7 generations have owned a South Texas cattle raising and farming ranch. I have grown up going down there my whole life for hunting trips, family reunions, rodeos, or just a free weekend to get away. The most obvious thing to do while your driving down a country road with nothing in sight but mesquite trees and brush piles is listen to country music. For that reason alone I clearly associate my favorite place in the world with my favorite kind of music. My dad grew up on the ranch and dreamt only of being a cowboy for the rest of his life (that didn’t stick, he’s an investment manager now…) but either way South Texas is what makes him happy. I love my dad. I love my whole family. We are all very close and we spend a lot of time together down there with country music always playing in the background of our constant conversation. Country music, you could say, bonds my number one community that is my family. From Robert Earl Keen to Jerry Jeff Walker to Big George to ole Willie, we probably know every lyric to every last ‘real’ country song. A 7 hour trip from Fort Worth, where we’re from, to Kingsville, Texas makes for a lot of hours of music and it is always country.
I am the youngest of four kids and I look up to all of them. What they think is cool, I think is cool. If my family listened to techno music, let’s be real, I probably would too. They liked Alan Jackson, so I liked Alan Jackson. They thought Brad Paisley was a tool so I thought Brad Paisley was a tool. Not to say I don’t have my own opinion about country music, I definitely do, but country music has just always been what I’ve listened to from day one. My very first concert, which I will never forget, was with my family and it was Brooks and Dunn. I was 7 years old and have had Neon Moon stuck in my head on repeat ever since. Country music brings back good memories, happy memories, and that is why it will always be my favorite. Country songs never get old. I have listened to My Maria no less than 400 times and it still is the best. What better thing to do with your favorite people than listen to the best kind of music.