Author Archives: Shelby Conine

About Shelby Conine

Shelby Conine is a freshman Journalism and Sociology double major and is in the Liberal Arts Honors program. She was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and is currently a member of the Texas Competitive Cheer team. She has been an avid consumer of country music since birth and some of her favorite artists include George Strait, Josh Abbot Band, Zac Brown Band and Carrie Underwood.

Home Sweet Country Home

Listening to Brad Paisley’s “This is Country Music” gives anyone a great overview of what country music is to a lot of people and clues the clueless into the values that it speaks to. However, there’s one line in the song that I think is majorly overlooked. In the second bridge, Paisley sings “This is real, this is your life in a song / Just like a road that takes you home / This is country music.”

I hadn’t thought about it much until I really started reading the lyrics, but that line characterizes the feeling I get when I listen to country. I think we all know it too—the comfort of turning down familiar roads and all the memories that start to flash across your mind’s eye. Your body moves almost as if on auto pilot because your mind is elsewhere. A pleasant, almost nostalgic feeling pervades my thoughts. It’s comfortable. It’s what I know.

Country music has been the soundtrack to my entire life. From the time I was born, it was engrained in my brain that George Strait is the King and that Alan Jackson is his right hand man. In fact, Alan Jackson’s “Livin’ on Love” was probably the first song I knew word-for-word since we played it coming home from church every Sunday. It’s like my family’s song, you know how boyfriends and girlfriends have “their song” or whatever, my family has one, too.

As I grew up, I learned that I could like things that weren’t just what my dad listened to—though raising me on the greats definitely influenced my taste. I became interested in different kinds of country especially female singers like Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and others. Admittedly, they’re more pop country and it wasn’t a real shock to anyone when Taylor Swift left the scene to explore new avenues and a larger audience.

But something struck me about what she had to say at the CMA’s this year talking about when she left. She said that country music would always be her home and where she got her start. I think giving the genre that kind of recognition was important to fans everywhere because while we no longer lay claim to her as a community, we would welcome her back if she wanted to make a return. For me that speaks volumes about the community and sense of home country creates. Like Lynden’s mom said, country music is one of the most forgiving communities—from exploring new genres to problems in your private life, if you admit you’re wrong country will welcome you home. (Start at 3:52)

So whether country means literal home to you or just mimics the feeling of home, I think the community as a whole is, as Mrs. Orr said, like a family. We’re all connected by the common ideals that country promotes and a cohesive fan base that will support you no matter what which is something a lot of genres don’t have.

What’s your country story? Are there any songs or moments in country music that define your life? Do you agree that country music is like a home? Or do you think I’m crazy? Let me know in the comments! (Except that last one, I don’t need to know about that one).

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Filed under Reflection, Song Analysis

Shelby’s Country Music Experience’s

My country music experiences were unexpected, but so worth it. I devoured chicken fried steak at Threadgill’s in Austin, watched my favorite artists rock the stage at the ACMs, was blown away by Jason Aldean’s electric concert, and was stunned by Carrie Underwood in “The Sound of Music.”

My country music experiences were unexpected, but so worth it. I devoured chicken fried steak at Threadgill’s in Austin, watched my favorite artists rock the stage at the ACMs, was blown away by Jason Aldean’s electric concert, and was stunned by Carrie Underwood in “The Sound of Music.”

My country music experiences were unexpected, but so worth it. I devoured chicken fried steak at Threadgill’s in Austin, watched my favorite artists rock the stage at the ACMs, was blown away by Jason Aldean’s electric concert, and was stunned by Carrie Underwood in “The Sound of Music.”


Filed under Austin, Class work, Reflection, Storify

Country Finds Its Beach

After spending the past week on a beautiful Bahamian beach listening to nothing but the waves on the shore and country music, it dawned on me that there may just be a new subgenre of country that, though small, is growing. Usually country contains themes of back roads and conservative ideals, but beach country has definitely changed that, evoking themes of sand, surf, and piña coladas.

This trend seemed to grow out of greats like Jimmy Buffett and his Margaritaville to Kenny Chesney and is now dominated by Luke Bryan and, to an extent, Zach Brown Band. Of course there are many others who have made music that sounds more beach-y than country, from Brad Paisley to Garth Brooks, everyone is hoping on the sandy bandwagon.

Luke Bryan in particular took advantage of this niche market by creating multiple spring break sets and performing in popular spring break locale Panama Beach. For the past seven years, Bryan has released a Spring Break EP to accompany his shows. Although the music isn’t his highest quality, it definitely is meant for the beach and the young adults that flock to it. This spring break marks his final shows and at 38 that’s probably an appropriate move as he’s two decades older than the average college freshman.

I think the expansion creates an interests from a wider fan base, one that might have traditionally listened to soulful and smooth Colbie Callait or Jason Mraz and wants to hear more sunny tunes. It definitely appeals to younger audiences and allows them an easy segue into more traditional country, particularly when such big names and well-known artists delve into the beachy trend.

However, I think the island tunes are become a lot more than a trend. Many have begun to incorporate more Caribbean sounds like the steel pan and mimic some defining characteristics of Calypso music with rhythmic and harmonic vocals.

Here are some of what I think are the most defining songs of the beach country movement:

Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett

This is probably the most iconic and well-known beach country song. First recorded in 1977, it eventually reached number 8 on the USA music charts and number 1 on the Easy Listening charts. It evokes images of the beach, margaritas, and women. What makes it country is mostly the guitar and the alcohol and women references.

Two Pina Coladas- Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks is largely celebrated as one of the best country artists of all time. When he released this song in 1998, it hit number 1 on the US and Canadian country charts. It, too, evokes the slower, harmonic vocals with some call-and-response tactics while using themes of alcohol, lovesickness and the beach.

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem – Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney is nearly unparalleled in his ability to capture the laid-back living that comes at the seaside. In this instant classic, there’s a clear mix of country and Calypso with steel guitars, acoustic guitars, drums, and tambourine. The island escapism so often seen in many of these songs is clearly evident here as he sings, “no boss, no clocks, no dress code.”

Suntan City – Luke Bryan

Like said, Luke Bryan’s spring break EPs aren’t his greatest works. While this song sounds different from the previous three, I think it still stands as beach country or a blend of bro-country and beach. It was released on Luke Bryan’s first spring break EP, “Spring Break… Here to Party.” It talks about a lot of similar themes as bro-country like women, beer, and kicking back with friends (in this case on the beach).


Filed under Country Subgenres, Live Music, Music Videos, Progressive Country

Unpopular Opinion: Jason Aldean Isn’t Killing Country Music

I would like to express an unpopular opinion, so hear me out before you tear me down please.

FullSizeRenderTwo weekends ago I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Charleston, South Carolina to meet up with my twin brother who goes to West Point and had a long weekend. He had three requirements for where we would meet: it had to be warm, it had to be easy to access from New York and it had to have a country music concert. As it turned out, that weekend was a pretty slow weekend country music wise and our options were Philadelphia, Boston, and Charleston. Since Philly and Boston were both blanketed in snow, it was off to South Carolina for us. The only drawback? We were going to see the endlessly-maligned (at least by our class) Jason Aldean.

Naturally, going into the concert I was skeptical, especially after everything we’ve said in class about how he’s “not really country” or is a representation of what’s wrong with country music these days. But I was moderately excited for the two opening acts, Tyler Farr and Cole Swindell, since I’d never seen them live before and had only heard them on the radio.

Admittedly Tyler Farr left something to be desired after his performance. While he has a few big hits and a decent voice, he isn’t the performer that I expected on such a big tour. I think he has a long way to go performance wise before he has any chance of making it big in country music.

However, Cole Swindell made up in a big way for Farr’s shortcomings. Swindell came on to the country music scene originally as a songwriter. He’s written hits for several big stars like Luke Bryan with hits like “Roller Coaster” and Florida Georgia Line’s “This is How We Roll.” However, last year Swindell recorded his debut album which included radio-friendly “Chillin’ It,” “You Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” and “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight.” Not only is his sound complimentary to Jason Aldean’s “bro-country,” but his stage presence is also closer to that of a real performer. He played his big songs, including those he wrote but that were recorded by Luke Bryan, and it seemed like he was much more in tune with what the crowd wanted.

After Swindell left the stage, I anxiously awaited Jason Aldean. I wondered if I was going to be totally repulsed by his music as it seems so many die-hard country fans are these days. The lights went down, his band began to play, and the strangest thing happened—I didn’t hate it. As a matter of fact, I actually rather enjoyed it. He may have come out to a back drop of flames and electric guitar, but I think a lot of people only see that side of Aldean and forget where he came from. They forget songs like “Amarillo Sky,” “Laughed Until We Cried,” and “Big Green Tractor,” just to name a few. He’s got tons of hits that have endlessly topped charts and, if you listen to the lyrics, hold very closely to traditional country values.

So yeah, I can’t hate Jason Aldean because his music goes beyond what it seems on the surface. I actually rather like his music. AND I sang along. So sorry if that offends you.


Filed under Live Music, Reflection, USA

The End of an Era: Who Will Claim the Title of ‘King of Country Music’?

george-strait-ftrCowboy boots echoed through the concrete corridors of Cowboys Stadium as my twin, Mason, and I eagerly awaited the familiar twang of the king of country music. When the lights went down, I could feel the stadium shaking beneath my boots as enthusiasts from across the country screamed for the one and only George Strait.

Last May when I graduated from high school, my parents gifted us with the experience of a lifetime: the opportunity to go to George Strait’s absolute last concert in Cowboys Stadium in June. Naturally, Mason and I were absolutely overjoyed to see the cowboy ride away for the last time. We’d grown up listening to classics like “Amarillo by Morning” and “Check Yes or No” (one of the first song I ever committed to memory). But we were no country music snobs, we also appreciated his newer music like “I’ve Got a Car” and “Twang.”

george_strait_stadiumThe concert was everything you could possibly want to see out of Strait: his all-time best songs accompanied by some of the hottest, most talented voices in country music today. Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Alan Jackson and so many more sung duets with him during his 3 hour long finale. He was happy and sad and sentimental and everything in between. When he sang his last song, “The Cowboy Rides Away,” you could feel the emotional he poured into the song. There was not a dry eye in the entire sold out stadium. It was, too put it plainly, incredible. Easily the best concert I have ever been to.

However, walking out of the venue that night, I couldn’t help but wonder who would take over his throne? For the past 20 years, King George has reigned supreme and consistently produced chart-topping hits—he has 60 number one hits. It seemed as though there wasn’t any obvious choice. All the artists who got on stage with him were good, sure, but were they country music royalty?

Country music is in need of a hero. It needs a new traditional, Texas country voice. While the bro-country music has taken off and has an abundance of talent, we’ve left traditional country without a leader. Hopefully we’ll have the next George Strait come out of the woodwork and assume the throne. Until then, I’ll be left swooning over fifteen to twenty year old albums and wishing some of the greats never quit.


Filed under Uncategorized