Author Archives: Morgan Lohmeier

My Texas Life is a Country Song

I have never thought about how much my life involves things that can relate with country music. When I look through my photos, and think about my time in this course throughout the semester, I realize that I immerse myself within country music culture throughout Austin without even realizing it. Between my family ranch and riding my horses, to weekend trips down to concerts at Nutty Brown Café and Gruene Hall, I could easily write a country song about my life. Here’s a few things I’ve done the past few months that strongly show how country music is reflected through my life:

  1. Zac Brown at Austin360 Amphitheater

zac brownZac Brown Band and friends played recently at Austin360 Amphitheater and I was able to attend with a good friend of mine who goes to A&M (boo). This was in early November and I later posted a throwback photo on Instagram from the concert. I’ve seen Zac Brown play multiple times, and each time they have fun props and settings up on stage to add to the country feel. Even though this band is extremely popular these days, and believe me, there was certainly a huge crowd at the concert, the band does a great job giving off the vibes of a small-town Texas country band. I think that may be why I adore them so much in concert.


2. My ranch & horses

my horses

While “visiting your ranch and working with the horses” wasn’t on the list of activities to do around Austin, I couldn’t help but feel that this is the most country thing available to do nearby, and I do it often. There are countless country songs about life out on the farm, or ranch, and working with the horses or cattle and what not. Out in Wimberley, my father owns a ranch with a little cabin and some livestock. We go out there on weekends as a family to ride our horses, hunt, shoot guns, do work on the land with the tractor, and basically anything else you can find in a Jason Aldean song. My horses mean a lot to me. I look forward to the 45 minute drive down to the property and my heart warms when I put my work boots on and grab my saddle from the tack room. I spend hours riding around the land on Corzo, my sixteen year old palomino, retired cattle horse. He’s a sweetheart. Try and tell me that this activity doesn’t belong on the “Country Experiences” list.


3. Gruene Hall

nutty brown  gruenehall

 Gruene is one of my favorite little towns in Texas, in line with Wimberley for sure. With Gruene being close enough to head over to after visiting the ranch for the weekend, my friends and I often stop by on Saturday nights and dance at Gruene Hall, or eat at the Gristmill next door. I’ve yet to go to a concert at Gruene Hall but I love just stopping by for a quick drink or chicken fried steak. If you’ve never visited Gruene before, I’d highly recommend jumping on I-35 for the quick 45 minute drive down to this awesome little old-fashioned town.

Looking at how often I do these things above, whether it’s ranch outings, Gruene Hall dancing, or the never ending availability of concerts to attend in Austin and nearby towns, it’s easy to see that Texas is a prime place to be when it comes to the country music lifestyle. Participating in these activities on a normal basis while living in Texas, I’m able to relate to so many of the country songs we’ve studied this semester in class. I have truly enjoyed studying the rhetoric of country music this semester, and being able to apply it to my daily life in numerous ways.

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Filed under Austin, Blog Post 5, Live Music

Maybe The Band Perry Won’t Live Forever

We all have accepted the fact that Taylor Swift has flown away from the land of country music, and those few fans that admired her country tunes are still somewhat offended by this realization. Pop is trendy. Pop is in-the-moment flare. Pop is, well, overplayed and nothing special. I lose almost all respect for country artist that desert their home for the five seconds of fame in Pop Land (yes, I did just make up a new continent). The country music genre is home to meaningful, insightful, legendary stories in the form of music that lives on for decades after. Who has ever said the same of Pop music? Oh that’s right, no one. This leads me to my topic of frustration today: The Band Perry’s treacherous venture into the land of Pop-Rock music.

The trio’s new single, released in mid-August, title “Live Forever,” is anything but country. Let me tell you, the first time I heard this song was on a Pop station on my XM radio last week. I paused on the station I normally would’ve immediately skipped when I saw the name of a band I admired. Confused as to why a Pop station would play music from a country trio, I quickly became horrified. I stared in disbelief at the screen displaying the album cover and the song title. There is no way this is the same band that plays so many of my favorite tunes, I thought to myself as the upbeat, Disney-theme-sounding chorus played through my speakers. I don’t get it! I thought bands weren’t allowed to copy each other’s names… and why would someone else want to call their band “The Band Perry” as well? I was trying to think up any alternative other than the truth, which was that the song playing through my speakers was, sadly, The Band Perry.

It’s not that I despise the song itself. It’s catchy and decently written by the trio. Take a listen yourself in the music video I posted up top. The video, on a quick side note, is also very creative and brings back nostalgia for summer freedoms and being with friends, just as many country songs do. The thing that really gets my hair in a knot is the fact that the band decided to turn to the Pop-rock genre for this single. The song isn’t played on country stations. Why? Because it’s not country. It’s played on Pop stations. Popular country music blog, Taste of Country, gave the song positive reviews with praise for its “big,” “vivid” sound. I just can’t stand the fact that great, successful country bands think they need to drift over to the Poppy side of music to stay popular. Are we country fans not good enough? It’s almost like a stab in the back. We like these bands because they play music we like in a genre we love, not because they belittle themselves to the pop-culture and make crappy, not-at-all original tunes. I don’t see the overwhelming need for The Band Perry to join the Pop side of things. Stick to country music please, your fans love you for that.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Country Pop, Song Analysis

Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash

reese1Growing up listening to country favorite, Johnny Cash, my family eagerly awaited the release of the movie based on his life and career, Walk the Line, in 2005, two years after Cash’s death. The movie portrayed Cash’s struggles and his constantly teetering career beautifully. The cast of the movie performed each part with stunning similarity to the assumed characteristics of the real life stars. My favorite part in the movie, however, was Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash.

Reese Witherspoon has always been a great role model and southern sweetheart to all her fans. She has had plenty of roles in movies that strengthen fans’ love for her. She stepped up to the next level when she performed as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. Not only did she perform the character of June with magnificence, but she also learned to sing for the part, stunning fans and critics everywhere. Who knew Reese had such an amazing voice for singing?

It wasn’t something she learned overnight, however. According to an article from “Taste of Country,” Reese, and Joaquin Phoenix alike, went through vigorous vocal training from famed music producer, T-bone Burnett. An article from IMBD stated also that Reese really did learn to play the instruments she uses in the movie and sang for the movie without being dubbed like actors are in most singing scenes. Speaking to MTV in 2004, before the movie was released, Reese spoke of her role in the film. “It’s been so hard; it’s been really, really one of the hardest movies I’ve ever had to make. I had to do four months of rehearsals. I had to learn to play autoharp. I had to take singing lessons. I had to record an album, which was the most challenging, horrifying experience of my life. Me singing in front of people while they’re listening to me is just horrifying. And it gets exponentially horrifying when extras show up and have to watch you and you have to pretend you’re at a concert and singing and they like it.”

Reese never did get to meet June Carter Cash, as she died before production of the movie began. Witherspoon did, however, get to listen to a pre-recorded interview with June and speak to her children in order to learn more about the woman she was to portray. She also got to research June’s closet for inspiration before shooting for the film began. In the same interview with MTV about the movie, Reese said, “I met with the family, I met with her children. I talked to them. I visited her house, got to walk through her closet and stuff. I know that sounds strange, but just to see her things and see all her musical instruments and see where she lived and spent a lot of her time, a lot of that kind of stuff has been really helpful. Friends of the family have been on set and I’ve had a lot of time to sort of absorb that side of it.”

Witherspoon certainly wooed the crowds with her portrayal as June. She won an Oscar for best performing actress in 2006 for her role in Walk the Line. She stayed humble, as always in her career. I still, to this day, will have a mood that leads me to open up the soundtrack to Walk the Line on my phone and begin playing Witherspoon’s covers of June. I have a deep respect for June Carter Cash and her music, but something about the way Reese Witherspoon performed June’s songs brought new life to the lyrics and tunes played. Reese, you’re a truly talented woman.


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 3, Movies and TV, Women

Andy Hersey: Overlooked Country Talent From Arizona

Organ pipe cactus and saguaros at Ajo Mountain Drive with Diaz Spire in distance at sunset, Sonoran Desert, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.I grew up out in the deserts of Arizona, only a short one hour drive from the border of Mexico. Instead of lakes and beautiful hill country landscapes to explore, we had looming mountains and dusty, cacti filled lands. While Austin is certainly my favorite place I’ve yet to call home, I will say there are, surprisingly, many things I miss about Arizona. The lands dotted with Native American reservations, old deserted mining towns, and beauty of the Grand Canyon and unique outdoor opportunities gives Arizona a special charm that other states can’t offer.

Country music often accompanied my family on our many road trips between our desert home and our cabin in the beautiful, Northern Arizona Mountains. While my dad never strayed from imprinting Johnny Cash, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, and the likes into my brain from an early age, there were some country artists specific to the Sonoran lands we lived in that joined us on the road trips every time. Andy Hersey being one artist that really stuck with me even long after I’d last heard his voice playing through the car speakers.

andyherseyAndy Hersey only ever released two albums, Compañero Blanco in 2002, and Between God and Country in 2007. The songs from his first album were probably repeated over one hundred times in our car on the road between Tucson and Prescott. My dad had really taken a liking to Andy Hersey when he was introduced to his music after seeing him perform with another Sonoran-cowboy-rock-sounding band, Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers. My family had trucked down to Rocky Point, Mexico, back when it was safe enough to hop in the car for a weekend trip across the border, and rent a little beach house to go see Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers play on the sandy shores. These Arizona-based country-rock bands all had something in common that my dad loved: they sang songs that incorporated the Mexican influences in Arizona with being somewhat of an urban cowboy. It was a nice mix of Americana style with Mexico references. Arizona folk loved that, since Mexico was a big part of everyone’s lives, living so close to it and what not. Just like Texans love when Country artists relate to the great lands of Texas, Arizonans loved a good band that sang of those desert lands. Andy Hersey, with a voice similar to Uncle Lucius, pulled off that Arizona desert charm well.

Hersey sings of Mexico, working the lands, cowboys, and love. His hit, “Compañero Blanco”, speaks of a cowboy and a Mexican ranch hand that shared a special friendship, despite their language barrier. My personal favorite, “(Next Time) A Diamond Won’t Cut It” tells the story of a woman who fell in love with a man that never truly gave her his heart, but rather thought he could buy her things in exchange for his cold heart. Hersey’s songs often tell stories, just like many of our favorite country songs. He incorporates beautifully played acoustic guitar tunes into most of his songs and has a smooth voice that must’ve been overlooked.

I’m sure not many country fans out here in Texas, if any, have even heard of Andy Hersey. Maybe I have a bias for him since I listened to him for years, even though he only produced two albums so far. However, I will stand by my opinion that I believe Hersey’s talent could still make it far in the country music industry. He made a name for himself amongst the Arizona country fans, and if he continues writing the types of songs he has been, and steps outside the Arizona borders more often, I’m sure country fans all over the nation will have a sweet spot for Hersey’s sound.

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Filed under Blog Post 2

Avoiding the Black Train

One nation under God is said daily across the fifty states. Christianity is the prevalent religion reigning over our lands. Churches unite the Christian communities across the country and bring together the millions of Americans that worship the Lord. The Christian community is one I’m blessed to belong to. Country music has always been the top genre of music to subtly praise God almost as much as the Christian genre of music itself. Most country artists have at least one song that relates to their faith or lumps Christianity and being an American into one.  I admire country music for that. Rarely do artists in other popular genres of music proclaim their faith as often as most of my favorite country artists do.

As a Christian, I strive to associate my actions with my faith. I aim at being a humble, good person in all aspects of my life. However, in today’s society, it’s all too easy to fall into bad habits and unfriendly behaviors. There’s a specific country song that comes to mind as I talk about the traps of society in relation to staying true to my faith. Not surprisingly, it’s a song by the good-boy, Christian, charming, mesmerizing voice of Josh Turner called “Long Black Train.” The music video on YouTube alone boasts a whopping ten million views.

josh turnerTurner’s deep, silky smooth voice hums the tunes about a long train that feeds off the souls of those lost and sad people. The rails of the train track are made of sin and evil and Turner warns us to steer clear of the train as it nears us. Turner then tells us that there’s redemption, peace, and protection if we just choose to look to the heavens and burn our tickets to the black train.

“There’s victory in the Lord, I say, victory in the Lord. Cling to the Father and His holy name, and don’t go ridin’ on that long black train.” Turner’s use of the metaphor of the black train as all the temptations and evil in the world paints a vivid image of darkness Christians struggle to avoid on a daily basis. But not to fear, because Turner’s welcoming murmur reminds us that the Lord is always here to protect us.

The engineer on the train, later in the song revealed to be the devil, drives the train around and tempts us to hop on, making us wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to give in and join the others on the long black train. I believe this song became so popular with Turner’s fans and country music fans all over the world as they listened to the meaning of this song because it paints a vivid scene of the daily struggles every Christian faces as we try to follow the Word of God while being tempted by numerous evils daily.

josh turner 2Most Christian country fans will find this tune a lovely reminder to our daily struggles, but country music fans that aren’t of the same faith may take offense to the praises this song emanates. While some country songs very subtly praise the Lord, this song focuses solely on faith and the redemption of the Lord, along with the temptations the world presents us with daily. I think even people that aren’t Christians can relate to the daily temptations and the metaphor of the black train Turner speaks of. This may be another reason why the song was and still is one of Turner’s fan favorites. The overall message can prove relatable to any person, honestly.

I have such a soft spot for this song and the meaning behind it. It’s a song I can play any day and never get sick of it. Plus, who wouldn’t love listening to josh Turner’s deep, handsome voice singing about his faith. I sure could daily, on repeat, every day. Did I mention I could listen to it every day?  You get the point…

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Filed under Blog Post 1