Author Archives: Max Holter

About Max Holter

I am just a small town swimmer who took the midnight train to Austin, Texas to give big time swimming a shot, and also go to school. I come from Colorado and loved attending Cheyenne Frontier Days and skiing. Temperatures above 60 are a little to hot for me, and I love dad jokes.

A Semester of the South

Prior to this class, I tolerated country music. If it was on I would not be upset, just indifferent really. I did always enjoy any country song if the singer would say “Can’t” with such a twang that it sounded like “Caint.” Although I still cherish the twangy, slight mispronunciation, of words, country music has become so much more to me. It not only has become the only music to fill my car, but the music that drives my thoughts throughout the day.

Walk the Line

WalkTheLine“That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”-Steve Martin in “Grand Cayon.” As somebody who has seen 58 of the top 100 movies rated by IMDB, it is no secret that I love cinema. I think that I fell in love with movies because of the stories they tell, and looking back at this class I fell in love with country music for the same reason. Songs like Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses” could easily be adapted into full length films. From the first essay on, finding out the story behind every country song made listening to it even more enjoyable. For no song is this truer than Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line.” In the movie with the same title, Joaquin Phoenix portrays Johnny Cash to perfection. Each and every internal demon that Cash faced throughout his hard life was played up to perfection. Phoenix’s dark eyes gave viewers a window into Johnny Cash’s soul, and it was wonderful. In this scene June Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon) lectures Johnny and the band about walking a line. Although I doubt it sprung up as quick as the movie suggests, this lets you see into how one of the more recognizable songs in country music was created. Whether it was explained by a Hollywood film, or Dusty in class I will always love learning what inspired a great country song.

Dancing Across Texas

(Distracting Right?)As some of you read about in my last blog post, I recently went two stepping. This was an experience that was uncomfortable at first, but quickly grew on me. I would have never been able to do this without being exposed to country music by this class. If it wasn’t for the familiar voices of George Strait, Cody Johnson, and Randy Travis I would have been a nervous wreck out on the dance floor. After having my own two stepping experience, songs like George Straits “I Just Wanna Dance With You”, Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance” and of course Brooks and Dunn’s “Boot Scoot Boogey” have instantly become more relatable. With a helpful push from this class I was able to take a step out of my comfort zone and have a great night.

Franklin’s BBQ

franklin-barbecueAs a swimmer I am up early all too often. Sundays are the one day that are free of practice, and free of alarm clocks. For some odd reason, I chose to get up at the crack of dawn to go wait in line for Franklin’s. “Alright folks, only three and a half hours to go! Thanks for coming out and waiting!” exclaimed the head cook of at Franklin’s Barbecue. We were about tenth in line and I was about ready to give up and go back to bed, it was still only 7:15. Just as I was having these thoughts Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm” began playing. I figured that if a little boy could shine shoes with a smile, I could at least wait in line for the best BBQ in America. As Johnny Cash songs kept playing, I got some full country nostalgia. Talking with two friends about everything we experienced in our first year as Longhorns. Our time in line flew by as barbecue filled our noses, and memories filled our minds. It was almost like we brainstorming for a country song of our own. With a nostalgic conversation, Johnny Cash playing, and the best smell in Texas I was ready to grab a guitar and start strumming up the next hit country song. This thought would have never crossed my mind had I not been exposed to country music through this class.

I can’t say enough great things about this class and the experiences that it generated for me. I hope that Dusty finds a way to keep it going as he moves on the next phase of his life as country roads take him home to West Virginia. I feel extremely fortunate to have ended up in this class, and I feel bad for every University of Texas student that didn’t get a chance to take it. Whether I hear it in a movie, on a dance floor, or in line at the best BBQ joint in Texas, I can confidently say that I love country music, and attribute most of that to this class.

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Filed under Austin Food, Blog Post 5

I Don’t Dance

DF-29558.DNGIn the movie “We Bought A Zoo,” Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) takes a huge risk in buying a zoo for his home.  He took a giant step out of his comfort zone, and so I figured I would follow suit. Mine was on a much smaller scale, I asked a girl to come two stepping. Well I asked my friend’s girlfriend to find me a dancing partner, but hey, I ended up with a real nice girl to dance with: Hannah.

It sounds like something small, but dancing lives a country mile outside of my comfort zone. As we were waiting for just the right song to come on, my heart pounded. Other than the country music playing, nothing was familiar to me.  Most people expertly swung their partners around the wooden floors, completely at ease. Their complete confidence only made me feel more unsure of myself. All that was running through my head was Lee Brice’s “I don’t Dance.” I thought back to my first inspiration for coming, Benjamin Mee, and his tagline quote of the movie: “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

(It sounds even better coming from Matt Damon”)

I took my twenty seconds of courage when I grabbed Hannah’s hand and said “Alright let’s give this a shot.” Thankfully, she was an experienced dancer and happily showed me how to two-step.  I was, well, bad. I struggled to remember all three steps of two stepping. Maybe it was my lack of rhythm or the constant distraction of my partner’s smile, but as George Strait’s familiar twangy voice was filling my eardrum, I couldn’t help but have a good time. Just like Lee Brice, I was out there spinning her round and round… or at least trying to.

“You wanna take a break?” Just the words I wanted to hear had finally come out of Hannah’s mouth. I happily walked off the dance floor and took a much needed break. People watching while talking to Hannah became my favorite part. I could casually listen to some of my favorite country songs, and watch people slide across the dance floor in perfect unison. Giant belt buckles, bright shirts, and unique dance moves lead me to realize that I was deep in the heart of Texas.

(Distracting Right?)

As George Strait’s “Check Yes or No” began to play Hannah looked at me and smiled. Before I knew it, I was dancing and singing along to one of my favorite country songs. This was the first time I had felt at all in rhythm, and although I didn’t know too many steps, I was on cloud nine.

While my second left foot slowly began to act like a right foot, I enjoyed myself more and more. Guided by Rodger Creager, Luke Brian, Eric Church, Randy Travis, and of course George Strait I stopped focusing on the steps and more on the experience.

I have a huge thank you to say to Dusty, for giving such an open assignment that I could take a step out of my comfort zone, and Megan and Townley for convincing Hannah to come dance with me. But most of all, Hannah for teaching me how to two step. I am very blessed to have the people around me that I do, even if I am not blessed with the gift of dancing.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Dancing

Chris LeDoux For President

Although Chris LeDoux is no longer living, I took a look into the man he was, and why he would have been the perfect candidate for the next President of the United States. I know that this humble he never got too involved in politics, but he never had an opportunity to run against Trump.

When political platforms begin to revolve around the size of opponents hands, a political race seems a little bit more open. I know I sound like I am on a soap box here complaining about The United States’ presidential candidates, but I think adding one more candidate to the mix would make this reality TV series of a debate even more lively. I would like to nominate a living Chris LeDoux for the president of the United States.

I would nominate him into the republican party, just for the thrill of seeing him compete against Mr. Trump. We all know that Mr. LeDoux would be much above low belittling comments that make the debates so interesting thus far. His platform would be based on only one brilliant idea. “A five Dollar Fine for Whining.” As he mentions in his song “Five Dollar Fine,” it is the only problem he faces at the humble Wyoming bar he drinks at his whining. By implementing the five-dollar penalty for whining, LeDoux’s bar becomes only for a fun loving crowd, and who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

As Trump spouts off about how he plans to “Make America Great Again” Chris LeDoux has the simple solution. If nobody is whining, there are clearly no problems. It is just one simple rule that it would take to truly make America Great Again. County music can be criticized for being too simple, just like LeDoux will be when he runs for president, but that is where its beauty truly lies. It is relatable, understandable, and just well… American. Because LeDoux embodies these qualities of country music he again stands far above other possible candidates for either party.

Alright, you have made it this far into the post and so you are clearly interested in why Chris LeDoux set foot in the oval office. He is an economic genius, with the same simple song that his campaign is based on. A five dollar fine for whining would lead to immediate government funding, because all the funds would go to the government. This would lead to tax cuts across the board, or a strong decline in whining… Either way America is winning. I know you are questioning how much people really whine, and you may be among the first. Nobody has done a study on it, but Psychology today has many articles talking about why we whine and how to deal with whiners (language disclaimer).

RachelWhine (that’s a five dollar fine!)

This plan of implementing the five dollar fine for whining would do one of two things. Fund the economy, or put an ending to the disease that is whining in America. Both of these are wins of the American public. They either are paying less in taxes, or they have nothing to whine about ever. That is how you really make America great again.

But is Chris a humble American just like you and I? Yes, yes he is. Sure he became famous, and now is doing pretty well for himself, but in this telling interview, LeDoux fans hear about his times competing rodeo where he and his wife couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel unless he won, and how he would just sell his tapes outside the rodeos. Compare this to the small two-million-dollar loan that trump got from his father, or just the political advancements Ms. Clinton can make with just her last name. Both of these people are pretending to be what is right for America when there is really just one clear answer. Chris LeDoux 16. If you don’t like that well there’s a five dollar fine for whinin’, we tell you, before you vote Chris… If only he was still alive.


Filed under Blog Post 3, Politics

Great Day to Be Alive

Every young swimmer faces a hard time when they start the dreaded morning practices. The alarm starts ringing early, and life seems to be lived in the dark. When I was fourteen I was moved to the senior group of my home swim club, FAST. This meant that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I was in the water at 5:30 am sharp.

To be in the water by 5:30 I had to get to the pool by 5:15 which meant getting up at 4:50 to eat. Needless to say it was a hard adjustment for fourteen-year-old me. Getting up wasn’t even the worst part. It was going straight to school from the pool that did me in. Out of the pool at 6:50 we had to be at school by 7:30, which meant leaving the pool at 7:10. With the day entirely planned out we had just enough time for the highlight of the mornings. A warm, almost loving, shower. For a while we would just shower, and watch our time wind down before we had to go make it through school, then come back for another practice. Then country music changed everything.

Armed with a water proof speaker, we were now ready to beat the day. There were about ten of us that would really listen to the music coming out of the speaker, and we had ten different opinions about what should be coming out of the speaker.

Each and every one of the swimmers in the men’s locker room would hear a song and say “NO, NO, NO! We can’t listen to this to start the day! I am not going to have Katy Perry in my head all day.” This constant bickering lead to the demise of our beloved speaker. It stayed away for about a week when two juniors on the team, Jason and Austin, walked in the locker room with the speaker proudly above their heads, and grins stretching across their faces.

These two guys had found a song, so perfect, so right for the start of the day, and so easy to sign along to it would reunite the ten of us in the showers. Hounded with questions they said nothing except “Listen up”

Travis Tritt’s  twangy voice rolled smoothly out of the speaker as he sang “I’ve got some rice cookin’ in the microwave.” The entire locker room audience was hooked as his voice boomed in singing “and im doing all right, and it’s a great DAYYY to be alive.” The coming weeks this song about each day being great was a staple of our locker room listening diet.

10483372_857640514265683_524370407_nI still believe that we liked this song because we could all relate to what he was saying. Even if none of us made homemade stew, or had three day beards that need shaving, we all knew what it was like to be a little down… We were at morning practice for gosh sakes. No matter how down we would get about a hard practice, or a mountain of homework waiting at home we would always know that it was a great day to be alive.

This one song brought us together and it turned into a way of cheering up a friend who was down. If a teammate was obviously upset, all it would take to bring up their spirits was simply saying “Hey man, it’s a great day to be alive.” This had our team sitting as happy as could be.

As Jason and Austin Graduated, we listened to less and less of Travis Tritt in the locker room. He faded away just as Tritt’s voice does in the singing of this song.  Even though “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive,” was no longer a fan favorite at the pool, it’s message would be something that never leaves my mind, and I think that’s something only county music can do to its listeners.


Filed under Blog Post 2

Family Tradition

1525648_10201579462302350_1795968485_nCountry songs often speak of white sand beaches, but rarely ever white snowy mountains. In a less than likely way it was a snow covered mountain that brought me to become a fan of country music. This was always the longest two-hour drive of my young life, and the only thing that could make it manageable was music put onto CDs by my parents. My musical taste was completely based on exposer. A 2003 Toyota Sequoia with a rocket box full of skis on top and my family inside is where music lived for the Holter family. The musical taste of my family was clearly defined about once a month when a new CD was loaded in the player in the car to make the journey to the mountain seem a little shorter. To me each ski playlist was like looking into my parent’s billboard of great music. This small amount of ski music consisted mostly of bands similar to The Beatles, The Coasters, NSYNC, and Queen, but there was typically a country song or two sprinkled in. My Dad reluctantly insisted that “Mom just ended up liking these songs when we were living in Atlanta and Austin.” It was clear that these twangy songs held a special plate in his heart as well. When one of these southern songs would play the car would begin to accelerate as his foot begin to tap on the accelerator.  This left me in a strange place torn between what each parent liked. I didn’t know if I should enjoy Hank Williams’ “Family Tradition” and Garth Brook’s “Friends in Low Places,” like my Mom, or if I should just wait for yellow submarine to play like my Dad did. Choosing my father’s side, I decided that I had no real need for country music in my life. I continued to be indifferent to country music until one long car ride changed my opinion forever. I wasn’t even in the car.

My Dad was on his way back from a short work trip in Omaha, Nebraska, and drove all night with the hopes of being home for football Sunday. As I was trudging towards the bathroom more asleep than awake, he looked at me with wide and said “come watch this.” Brushing away the sleep from my eyes I sat down in his office as he pulled open YouTube and typed in “Luke Bryan- We Rode in Trucks.” Without saying anything he clicked on the music video that would change my opinion about country music forever.  As the smooth guitar chords began to be strummed, and Luke Bryan’s country voice started telling me a story about his upbringing, I was hooked and so was my Dad. Now my parent’s CDs were littered with country music that I came to love. Each time we drove up skiing I felt ready to go out and ride a horse or something, but instead I just rode my skis. Thanks to Nebraska’s radio selection I learned to walk the line, how the thunder rolls all because it was part of a new family tradition.

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Filed under Blog Post 1