Author Archives: Randle Cecil

About Randle Cecil

My name is Randle Cecil and I am a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. I am a communications sciences and disorders major with plans to attend graduate school to become a speech pathologist. I grew up in the small town of Paris, TX which is where my love for country music originated. My favorite artist is George Strait and always will be. Outside of the classroom I enjoy learning about health and fitness and practicing a healthy lifestyle. I also have strong love for animals and nature.

The Gatlin Brothers: Famous Artists or Just Family?

IMG_4837The entire semester I have learned so much about the country music world in class, yet I never realized how close I’ve been to the real country music world in my own dorm. My friend Lauren Gatlin (you might recognize her last name from the Gatlin Brothers) has grown up around the country music industry her entire life and often spends a casual weekend backstage in Nashville. She was kind enough to spend a little while chatting with me about her father, and even called him during our interview. Her father is Rudy Gatlin, one part of the famous three-part brother band, The Gatlin Brothers. They sing a three-part harmony where Rudy takes on the high harmony. One of the brothers, Steve, plays the base and the other two play the acoustic guitar.

The Gatlin Brothers were huge in the 1970s and 80s, and their music is considered by most to be classic country, but they create gospel music as well. Larry, Steve, and Rudy may be superstars to the average country music fan, but to my friend Lauren they are just family.

Just like any other normal person, these three brothers lived an average childhood in the small town of Abilene, Texas. They all started singing at a very young age as sort of a family hobby. Lauren’s father, Rudy, went on to Texas Tech and it wasn’t until after college that the brothers decided to officially form their band.

Together these brothers won a Grammy in 1976 for their hit song “Broken Lady”, the same year they officially decided to join together as a band. You may recognize them from their other songs such as “All the Gold”, “Houston”, “Night-time Magic”, and “I Don’t Wanna Cry” just to name a few.

However, their success and passion for music hasn’t stopped since. Just three years ago they won the Pioneer Award at the Academy of Country Music Awards. They are also members of the Grand Ole Opry. Rudy, now 62 years old, and his two brothers continue to create music to inspire others. Lauren revealed to me that they are actually working on another gospel album, because that is what they are most passionate about at this time. Lauren told me that her father Rudy and his brothers love reaching out to people on a spiritual level. They have been reassured several times of their positive influence by receiving letters of thanks from fans who turned their life around because of The Gatlin Brother’s songs. Not only is Lauren’s father successful and famous, he’s also a great Christian man and father.


After hearing everything about the Gatlin Brothers from one of their own family members, I was blown away by how normal brothers could reach such high success through simple hard work and dedication. By this point in the conversation I was so fascinated by Lauren’s normal experiences that would be an experience of a lifetime for me. She attended the most recent Academy of Country Music Awards that many of us watched and wrote about for the class. Lauren has met Hunter Hayes, Kenny Rogers, Taylor Swift, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Little Big Town, Lee Brice and many other famous country music performers.

Even though Lauren’s father is friends with famous artists and is famous himself, he still maintains a normal family life in Dallas while his two brothers still live in Nashville. It just goes to show that famous artists are real people with real lives, and all they really want to do is create music and make others happy.


Filed under Awards, Classic Country

Randle’s Country Music Adventure

This semester I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the Rhetoric of Country Music class where we were challenged to take the learning beyond the classroom and actually participate in the country music world. I didn’t have to travel far to experience a live performance in west campus by Turnpike Troubadours, go two-stepping at the world’s largest Honky-Tonk, watch the movie Country Strong, and finally watch the 50th anniversary of the Academy of Country Music Awards. By participating in all of these things, my eyes were opened to how dominant country music is in Austin in particular and all over the country.

I grew up in a very small town in northeast Texas, so country music has always been familiar to me, even though I didn’t know much about it. I enjoyed the way it sounded on the radio, but I never knew the names of artists or how interesting the country music industry really is. I wanted to take the Rhetoric of Country Music class so I could learn more about the genre of music I’m always surrounded by, but I had no idea how much I would actually get out of this class. When I moved to Austin I had no idea that I was moving to one of the most historic cities for music, especially country music. It’s not just about the history, though, because Austin still has live country performances going on around almost every corner. There was even a live performance around the corner from my dorm in west campus, where Turnpike Troubadours was playing at a fraternity house. I loved the simplistic style of the band and how playing for just a bunch of college kids didn’t bother them. I also got the chance to go two-stepping at Billy Bob’s, the world’s largest Honky-Tonk located at the Fort Worth Stockyards. In addition to experiencing the performance side of country music, I also saw the huge role country music has played in movies like Country Strong. I also watched the Academy of Country Music Awards on television, which proved that there are numerous fans of country and the artists are among the most talented in music history.

However, the things that I mentioned are not where my country music adventure ends. I am constantly noticing the influence this project has had on my view of music in general. I always figured that music was divided into genres that acted as hard lines between different sounds. But now I realize that country music can blend into other genres as well and the hard lines do not exist. When I watch a country performance on television or even live, I notice all aspects of the performance instead of just the song. I look at the outfits, the instruments, the props, the delivery, and the audience. So much goes into making a song or performer successful that I did not realize before. I have also learned that the history of music is just as important as history you’d read about in a textbook in school. Music reflects the political, social, and economical aspects of the time it was created. Many country music artists have created songs about gay rights, feminism, poor vs. rich, etc. Country music speaks about real life situations and challenges people to think about the issues around them. I am lucky to be in Austin where the country music history is rich and still thriving. When I walk by a live performance in a bar, I wonder if that performer will one day be famous because many artists had humble beginnings that began right here in Austin. This project has taught me how to think critically about how music reflects real people and real issues in a creative way. Instead of accepting a song at face value, I notice all aspects and wonder what the artist is trying to accomplish as a performer. This project has also made me proud that I have grown up around the rich and diverse genre of country music, where the boundaries never cease to be pushed.


Filed under Austin, Awards, Honky Tonk, Storify, Texas

Feminism In Country Music

Country music doesn’t have much of a reputation for speaking out about gender equality and women’s rights. Songs like Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” definitely does not help this reputation.  For years women in the country music industry have written songs about men breaking their hearts, getting cheated on, and loving a man who isn’t kind or thankful. However, many female country music artists in the past as well as today are boldly speaking out about these issues.  Women have enhanced country music and have developed the genre into what it is today, so I believe that these women deserve some recognition.  I have developed a random list of a few country songs that I believe have made a significant contribution to spreading the idea of feminism in country music.

Maddie & Tae – “Girl In a Country Song”

This song was released in July, 2014 as their debut single.  It has been played over and over again on country music radio since its release.  These two girls wrote this song as a response to their frustration with Bro Country.  They were tired of girls being portrayed as sexual objects for many famous male performers.  Maddie & Tae use a sarcastic song to make fun of Bro Country and show the ridiculousness of many famous songs in this beloved sub-genre.  These girls express their feminist views with lyrics such as these: “We used to get a little respect / now we’re lucky if we even get / to climb in your truck, keep our mouth shut and ride along / and be the girl in a country song.”

Dolly Parton – “Just Because I’m a Woman”

“Just Because I’m a Woman” is apparently Dolly Parton’s response to a conversation with her husband about how many lovers they’d had in the past. It has a simple message, yet a powerful one.  Dolly says that just because she is a woman, her mistakes are no worse than her husband’s.  Released in 1968, this song made a splash and spoke about women’s rights long before people were ready to accept the message.

Shania Twain – “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”

Shania Twain is one of my favorite artists because her songs are easy to understand and enjoyable to listen to, but usually have a hidden message.  In this song, Shania is expressing her pride in being a woman.  Shania stands up for women’s right to have a good time without a man by saying, “No inhibitions, make no conditions / get a little outta line / I ain’t gonna act politically correct / I only want to have a good time.”  Songs like these paved the way for artists like Britney Spears and Carrie Underwood to be accepted into the music world as sassy, strong women.  Some people even believe that this song is also speaking about gays rights, which makes the song even more incredible.

Wanda Jackson – “My Big Iron Skillet”

“My Big Iron Skillet” is about a woman fed up with her husband’s philandering and mistreatment of her. Not that we condone beating your spouse with a skillet, obviously, but it shows a woman standing up for herself, and that’s a thing we can support.  Wanda says “And you think here at home is where I ought to be / There’s gonna be some changes made when you get in tonight / Cause I’m gonna teach you wrong from right.”  Wanda really knew how to assert herself as an independent woman back in a time when most women did not do this.

The Carter Family – “Single Girl, Married Girl”

The Carter Family probably wasn’t the first to sing this song, but it echoes the roots of feminism in country and folk music.  This song is a tale that warns women to savor their independence.  The single girl gets to flaunt her nice clothes while the married woman is left rocking a cradle and crying.  It’s definitely not a bad thing to be married, but the Carter Family just wants women to make something of themselves instead of depending on a man. This is one of the earliest feminist songs, making the Carter Family even more legendary.

Kacey Musgraves – “Follow Your Arrow”

Kacey Musgraves has a made a huge splash in the country music world by sharing her liberal views in a primarily conservative genre.  This song, “Follow Your Arrow” pushes people to do whatever makes them happy and not try to please others.  Although this song is a comment on gay rights and acceptance, I believe that it is also a very feminist song.  Kacey tells us to make lots of noise and kiss lots of boys, which was not an acceptable way for women to act in the past.


Filed under Lists, Politics, Song Analysis, Women

We’re All Just Drunk Americans

When I first heard that Toby Keith had come out with a new1254539-toby-keith-617-409 song in 2014 titled “Drunk Americans”, I felt a little bit offended. Not ALL Americans are drunks. I thought he was placing a negative stereotype on the land of the free and home of the brave. I thought to myself that songs like this one are the reason that country music hasn’t always been the world’s favorite genre (even though it is my favorite). But as the song began to play and Toby began to sing, I immediately changed my view on the song. I almost felt a little bad for giving Toby such a hard time.

The song begins with this simple yet profound set of lines, “We ain’t East / we ain’t West. We ain’t left / we ain’t right. We ain’t black / we ain’t white.” I instantly decided that this was a pretty cool song. The overall message Toby was trying to get across is that it doesn’t matter whom you are or where you come from, we are all just drunk Americans.   Every single line in the song is intended to be comical and provoke an easy going state of mind, however, this brilliant song has an underlying message that anyone from around the world can relate to. Instead of this country song focusing on a specific group of people or a specific lifestyle, it focuses on a moral lesson that holds our country together. Toby says that it doesn’t matter what color you are, how much money you have, what you look like, or where you come from. When you’re in the bar, you’re a friend. However, I consider the bar to resemble America, and getting drunk to be translated to living out the American dream.

Personally, I had a really strong connection to Toby’s masterpiece the first time I listened to it, and even now I still enjoy the message. Each line makes a profound statement, but nothing can beat the end of the song. “In these neon lights / We’re all stars we’re all stripes / And we’re all drunk Americans”. I don’t know about everyone else, but that ending really makes me LOVE my country and the people who make this country so great. This song, as well as many other country songs such as “Bleed Red” by Ronnie Dunn, really instills a strong sense of American pride in everyone who listens. Country music is not exclusive to a certain group of people or a certain state. Country music shows us how to be a proud American, and sometimes even a drunk American.


Filed under Song Analysis, USA

“Country” Can Be Anywhere

IMG_3684-3It seems like almost everyone, including myself, proudly associates country music with the great state of Texas. Born and raised from a tiny little town in northeast Texas, I’ve always associated myself with being “country”. My accent definitely doesn’t hide where I’m from either. And everyone knows that country music and country people always come from Texas, right? Wrong. I discovered that maybe country music and country people could be from any state.

This past holiday break I got the chance to visit a friend who is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She told me that she had gotten us tickets to see Garth Brooks live. I had heard the name before, but for some reason I just couldn’t think of any of his songs. I soon discovered that Garth Brooks is actually from Tulsa. Like anyone would do, I googled his name to figure out if he was even that good (because, obviously, he’s from Oklahoma not Texas). It turns out that he is the world’s sixteenth best selling artist of all time. I was shocked. This guy must be worth seeing!

When my friend and I arrived at the concert, it seemed like we were the only people under 50 in the whole place. But I didn’t mind, because Garth’s music was pretty catchy and I found myself having a lot of fun even if I didn’t recognize a single song. The performance did include bright flashing lights and a few props, but nothing like a Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry concert might have. Simple is good, I thought, because it allows the performer to show their talent without huge distractions. I looked around at the audience and people were dancing and having the best time of their lives. My friend explained to me that Garth Brook actually retired a few years ago to spend more time with his family. He decided to start touring again, and his first priority was coming back to his hometown to perform.

He did seven shows in a row in Tulsa, and we were attending his sixth. That requires a lot of energy and dedication! Okay, now this guy was really growing on me. It was then that I realized that “country” isn’t just about being from Texas, wearing cowboy boots, and riding your horse with a Texas flag flying in the front yard. Country is about keeping things simple, and honoring your humble roots. Garth Brooks may be from Oklahoma, but that doesn’t really make him any less authentic than any other country star. But don’t get me wrong, if I had to choose between George Strait and Garth Brooks, I’d choose the Texan.


Filed under Live Music, New Country, New Traditionalism, Texas