Author Archives: Olivia English

About Olivia English

My name is Olivia English. I was born in Dallas, Texas, but raised in Portland, Oregon. I have three siblings, two older and one younger, and one black lab.


Before taking this class, I admittedly didn’t know that Florida Georgia Line was so horrible. I went to their concert this past summer and actually thought they were good, but after seeing them again at the Houston Rodeo a few weeks ago, I know I was wrong. I was on my way out of town with some friends and we stopped in Houston for the night, and went to the rodeo sort of spur of the moment. We ate corn and funnel cakes, and headed inside to see the show. Florida Georgia Line came out on stage, and immediately I knew something wasn’t right. They were wearing camo tank tops, Tyler Hubbard had his hair straightened, and there were pink lights and flames everywhere. The slideshow on the screens was made up of mostly license plates with the lyrics spelled out across them, and I could hardly watch. They even started the show out by playing “Started From The Bottom” before their first song!! To all of you who I silently disagreed with when you said they were no good, I take it back!

IMG_2229On a happier note, I went to Threadgill’s on Riverside with my dad while he was in town. The second we walked in my dad said, “Can’t you just feel it? People like Ronnie Milsap used to sit at these tables”. From the other customers to the people who were waiting on us, we really could feel the history of the place. My dad ordered chicken fried steak because he “felt like he had to”, and we shared a few appetizers like the fried green tomatoes. If you’re looking for a place to bring someone from out of town and want to show them what Austin is really like, Threadgill’s is the place to go!

When my dad visited earlier in the semester (he went here for undergrad and is having some serious trouble letting go of the glory days), we went two stepping with my sorority at Wild West. Two stepping was a skill I didn’t know I had until I started going to tailgates my freshman year. My parents love to dance and I’ve grown up dancing with my dad around the house and at neighborhood parties, but I had no idea I’d been two stepping all my life, and I really didn’t know I knew how to pretzel! We couldn’t keep up with most of the line dancing, but we held our own spinning around the dance floor between all of the other fathers, daughters, and Wild West regulars.

1911834_774356375961438_3650098447414466280_nMy view of country music has changed more than I ever thought it would after taking this course. I have learned so much about not only the music itself, but the people behind real country music and how to really appreciate the genre as something that truly is a part of how so many people grew up, and has shaped the lives of so many people. Going two stepping and seeing live music at Threadgill’s, along with the rodeo further proving what true country is, has helped me learn to appreciate music that is written from the heart and written about true experiences rather than being written to get a radio hit or collaborating with an R&B artist to land some listeners from other genres–for the record, I at least knew that song by Usher and Florida Georgia Line was bad from the start. Thanks to this class, I promise I’ll know the difference between real and pop country from here on out!

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Filed under Austin Food, Blog Post 5, Concert, Country Pop

Middle school graduation meets Rascal Flatts

I was thirteen years old, finally about to graduate and go into the big, scary world of high school. My friends and I were spending all of our free time searching the mall for the perfect graduation dresses, and avoiding the last bit of what we considered school work at all costs – if only I had any idea at that age how easy I had it!

I had choir second period with all of my best friends, and it was time for Adam to announce the song we’d be singing at our graduation in a few weeks (yes, we called our teachers by their first names at OES middle school, and yes, I thought it was weird). He played it from his laptop first, and then started to teach us the words. “I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow / and each road leads you where you want to go”; my friends and I rolled our eyes at the cheesy lyrics as “My Wish” by the Rascal Flatts played through the speakers. None of us were very interested in learning the words to this silly song at the time, but by graduation day, we were all choking back tears as we sang in front of all of our teachers, friends and family.

Other than Taylor Swift, this was one of the very first country songs I learned every word to. My friends and I didn’t listen to much country and weren’t huge fans of the song at first, but we reluctantly spent the rest of the year learning each word and practicing until we sounded perfect.

I still remember standing up on the top riser in the chapel in my orange dress with white polka dots and matching white sweater (not my best outfit choice – find me in the middle of the second row pictured below). My heart was racing as Adam began to play the piano, not because I was afraid to sing but because I wasn’t ready to graduate. We started to sing while we looked out onto the audience at our families, realizing that this was the last day we’d all be together before going off to different high schools, even though we’d still live within 20 minutes of each other and our moms would still drive us to Washington Square Mall every weekend to spend our babysitting money on purses at Forever 21. Regardless, as we sang the song for the last time, the lyrics broke our little 13-year-old hearts as we started to think about whether or not our dreams would stay big, and our worries staying small. Everyone in the chapel applauded and we were given our diplomas, then released to go take all the pictures we could to document this heartbreaking moment.


Still today, whenever I hear “My Wish”, all of the memories of middle school and graduation day come flooding back, even though I hardly see any of the kids I went to school with back then anymore. Little did I know, one of the first country songs I knew by heart would bring back so many memories years later. As hard as that graduation was, I know my college graduation and going into the real world will probably be a bit more meaningful than that leap from middle school to high school.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Rascal Flatts


It was the middle of the second semester of my freshman year at UT, and more importantly, only my sixth month living in Texas since I was two years old. I’d traded in my t-shirt and converse for a dress and boots on game days and started to pick up saying “y’all” instead of “you guys”, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into by going home with Ally Wild for the weekend. We had both somehow cheated the UT registration system and ended up with no Friday classes, and Ally had invited me to go back to Nacogdoches with her to see where she grew up.

579148_10151874185234242_983078365_nWe had only known each other for a few months, but my family knew her as my 5-foot-nothing, blonde hair teasing, pink lip gloss wearing friend who lived by the motto “the higher the hair, the closer to God”. My mom said “Well, you sure didn’t waste any time finding a friend who’s a real Texas girl!”, and thought it’d be fun for me to see a real small Texas town. We took off early Friday morning in her little white car with pink license plates that read “A <3 WILD”, and a few hours later we pulled up the dirt road to her house in Nac. Ally’s mom, Miss Tracey, was waiting for us at the door holding their yorkie, Lily.

Later that night, Ally took me out to Banita Creek Hall with her high school friends who now go to SFA. Surrounded by thick accents and teased hair, I walked into a dance hall where the live band was playing their hearts out, singing The Everclear Song by Roger Creager. Before I knew it, every boy had grabbed a girl and started dancing, spinning and dipping her around the room. Ally took my hand and started dancing me around just like everyone else, and all I could do was try to keep up – this was nothing like the high school reunion parties I had gotten used to after going back to Oregon for winter break.

Apparently, The Everclear Song was ‘the song’ of Ally and her friends’ high school years, and they all convinced the band to play it over and over again throughout the night until I’d learned the words myself. We danced and danced all night long, went back and did the same thing the following night, and by the end of night #2 I had (sort of) figured out how to dance and learned every word to their favorite song.

Truthfully, I’d never even heard of everclear before college. When Miss Tracey found this out, she decided to take it upon herself to convince both me and Ally that we’d never want to really find out what Roger Creager meant when he sang “Until I wake up and I’m face down in the hall, / Hey, I’m completely naked, for a reason I can’t recall.” She poured some in a glass and offered us each a sip, but luckily for us, we both started coughing from the smell and turned away.

Two years later, I’ve still yet to experience a single thing more country than that dance hall filled with teased hair and cowboy boots. Just in case I ever forget, Ally and her mom still love to play that song to remind me just how terrible everclear is, and how much I missed out on by growing up anywhere that wasn’t the great state of Texas.


Filed under Blog Post 3, Live Music, Texas

Wasn’t Raised With It, but Wish I Had Been

1401x788-GettyImages-476930506“It’s only $25, and I guess I don’t have anything else planned that weekend”, I thought to my fifteen year old self when a friend of mine insisted that I go to a concert with her. I had never listened to much country music, but it was the middle of July and I figured it could be a fun way to spend my night.

I went online and bought the ticket, and a few weeks later we were on our way to the Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield, Washington, listening to “Country Girl” by Luke Bryan on repeat. I had no idea who Luke Bryan was, and the name Tim McGraw was only vaguely familiar. Little did I know, I was on my way to see two of the biggest names in country music. We walked into the amphitheater in our jean shorts and flannels, trying to fit in with the ‘country’ crowd, found a spot on the lawn to lay down our blankets and took our seats. Soon enough, everyone was on their feet singing and dancing along to each and every song throughout the night.

This was my first real exposure to the world of country music, and I never looked back. I started listening to Luke Bryan religiously, and found myself switching to the country radio stations in the car on my way to school. I had a couple of friends who would listen along with me, but more often than not, I was quickly shut down and someone else would switch back to the Top 40 or plug in their aux cord – anything to get away from the country they so clearly couldn’t stand to listen to. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I really learned what country music was.

I had spent the past few years listening to whatever I found on the radio, but I had never heard of Pat Green or Bart Crow Band. I remember it perfectly, standing in a crowd surrounded by my new college friends, wondering why I was waiting around on this hot day for someone I’d never heard of to come out and play (Pat Green). Even when he did come on stage and start playing, I thought he was great but didn’t know a single word to a single song. I had no idea how all of my friends from Texas knew every word and got more excited with every song he played.

The first true country song that I really loved was “Wear My Ring” by Bart Crow Band, but even then I wasn’t fully aware that I was listening to Texas country. Wear My Ring was just the song I’d learned from listening to it over and over again during football season on game days, and had eventually learned the words and started to sing along. Now, I go back home to Portland, Oregon over breaks and play real country for my family and for those friends who originally showed me the genre.

My mom is from Sweden originally and doesn’t have much interest in country music, but my dad was raised in Lubbock, and is unbelievably proud of being a Texan. He went to UT for undergrad and for law school, and couldn’t contain himself when I made the decision to come here myself. He can’t stop smiling when he comes to visit, and even in my third year here he still loves to take me around campus and around town to show me his favorite college hang outs – sometimes he’ll even bring his boots and take me two stepping. Although I didn’t grow up around country music and the idea of boys wearing cowboy boots and white wash jeans every day seemed like something from another universe, UT has absolutely shown me a new culture and what real country is, and I’ve learned to love it all.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Texas

From Portland to Austin – A Change in Scenery


Although I was born in Dallas, Texas, and moved to Houston for about a year, I was raised in Portland, Oregon. People often say that Portland and Austin are very similar. This is true to some extent – both cities have a good music scene, food trucks, and are very urban, but Portland takes it to a new level. Walking downtown there means you’ll see at least one person not wearing shoes (by choice), someone drumming buckets on a street corner, a few people stationed at pop-up tents selling hemp clothing, and you’ll undoubtedly pass by a handful of hipster coffee shops. The music scene in Portland involves little to no country. My friends and family have more than likely never been to a country concert, and would much prefer to listen to Odesza, Disclosure, Future Islands, or any other band that performs regularly at Sasquatch or Coachella.

I went to my first country concert when I was 14 years old. I saw Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw and The Band Perry – little did I know, I had just paid a measly $20 to see some of the biggest names at that time. I learned to love the country songs that came on the radio regularly, but didn’t know until I got to college that the “country” I was listening to wasn’t really the music that true country music fans knew and loved. I had never heard of Pat Greene or Bart Crow until my first year at UT, and it still took me some time to grasp that type of music. My friends back home still love to poke fun at me for posting pictures in cowboy boots and dresses on game days, and I doubt they’ll ever learn how to two step.

Occasionally, a rare friend will show me a “new song” they love, for example, “I Love This Life” by Locash, or “My Front Porch Looking In” by Lonestar. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but only a few years ago I considered myself to be an avid country music fan, but I was listening to Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett on a regular basis. I won’t pretend that I don’t still find some of their songs to be catchy, but I’ve learned that I wasn’t listening to the real music people live by in Texas and all over the country (although it’s shown to be mostly a southern genre). Being raised in the Pacific Northwest, I grew up camping and hiking and even riding horses, but simply had not been exposed to the type of country that so many of my friends have known since before they learned to walk.

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Filed under Blog Post 1, Texas