Author Archives: Samantha Godfrey

About Samantha Godfrey

I am from a small town called Spring Branch, Texas. Since no one knows where that is, I stick to saying I am from San Antonio. Go Spurs Go! I was raised listening to the men of George Strait and, my personal favorite, Johnny Cash. Cash seems to be categorized in more of a rock n' roll genre than country but, I have my dad, a huge AC/DC fan, to thank for the rock influence. I am a second year here at The University of Texas at Austin majoring in Linguistics hoping to become a Speech Pathologist someday. I am also a part of the Texas Darlins spirit group.

Garth NOT on iTunes

Young Garth BrooksGarth Brooks is a well-known country music artist. It is very hard to find a person that has never heard of him or one of his songs, which is one of the reasons my group decided to choose a song of his for our music video project. He was an artist we all were familiar with. With that said, we all were very shocked to find Garth Brooks was nowhere to be found on iTunes. We searched and searched, but found nothing. We had to result in using a live recording from YouTube for our music in the video. This made me wonder how his fans would be able to listen to his work, surely no one was buying CD’s anymore. The answer I found was: Ghost Tunes.

Ghost Tunes is an online music store established by Garth Brooks himself. It launched in September 2014, and features singles and albums from a variety of artists, including Brooks.Garth Brooks Ghost Tunes The name “Ghost Tunes” is said to have derived from founder Brooks’ first name, Garth, and his “hosting” of the site (“G-host”). Ghost Tunes varies from other online music stores, such as iTunes, by allowing the individual labels to choose their selling format and prices. This was a result of Brooks’ resentment to digital music industries, such as iTunes, YouTube, and Spotify. Brooks said himself: “People get millions and millions and millions and millions of views, and they don’t get squat. Trust me. Songwriters are hurting.

However, as of 2013 Brooks’ recordings were continually selling very well. According to Nielsen Soundscan, his albums sales up to May 2013 were 68,630,000. Which makes him the best-selling albums artist in the United States in the SoundScan era, a title held since 1991, well over of his nearest rival, The Beatles. According to RIAA, Brooks is the second best-selling solo albums artist in the United States of all time, ahead of Elvis Presley. Which makes it hard for me to believe that money was his true issue with the industry. He is loaded with money and still was not satisfied with the portion he received from sales.

Garth PlayingThankfully, Brooks had an answer for my puzzlement. Music is what all of this was about for him. “Music wins,” Brooks had said. “This is my gift to music. That’s all I want.” That’s when Randy Bernard, CEO of Ghost Tunes, knew “it wasn’t about making a profit for Garth,” he told Billboard. It was about putting out a great product and working with artists and fans. “We want[ed] to make sure we unlocked the music and gave it to the consumer, not to the device,” said Chris Webb, COO of Ghost Tunes. “Ghost Tunes is about freedom.”

Do you think Garth’s decision was smart? Have you ever heard of Ghost Tunes? Would you be willing to buy your music from anything other than iTunes?


Filed under New Country

“Not What I Expected” Country Experiences

After two-stepping at Midnight Rodeo, spending all my money at Antone’s Record Shop, greeting 8-foot tall Willie Nelson, and watching the glamorous motion picture “Country Strong”, I have come to realize country music is a different experience for everyone. Country has a variety of meanings.


Filed under Austin, Class work, Classic Country, Country Pop, Dancing, Movies and TV, New Traditionalism, Storify

Hey Willie!

Willie Nelson Somewhere Over the RainbowOver Easter weekend, my brother and I randomly got the urge to drive around the great town of San Antonio. We rode around in my new black Mazda CX-5 with Conway Twitty’s Pandora radio blasting. Somehow we ended up at La Cantera mall, which is right by Fiesta Texas Six Flags. While walking around, the two of us wandered into Urban Outfitters and decided we could not leave without a record player and vinyl record. Fortunately, we headed back home happily with a portable turntable in one hand, and Willie Nelson’s 1981 Somewhere Over The Rainbow album in the other.

This vintage album features 1940’s pop standards arranged by Nelson. The album’s acoustic jazz instrumentation was also meant to play tribute to one of his heroes, Belgian gypsy jazz guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt, who influenced Nelson’s playing. This could be a possible reason why some vocals were also performed by Freddie Powers. The album includes the tracks of:

  • Mona Lisa
  • Exactly Like You
  • Who’s Sorry Now?
  • I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You)
  • Won’t You Ride In My Little Red Wagon
  • Over The Rainbow
  • My Mother’s Eye
  • I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
  • It Wouldn’t Be The Same (Without You)
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

If you have not been lucky enough to listen to at least one of these songs I highly recommend you do, my personal favorite would be “Mona Lisa.” This album does not seem to resemble any of Willie’s outlaw music he is so popular for today. It is a slower and more relaxed type of instruments and vocals. This is an album you play in the background while having guests over, it is a simple sound. Which was the same type of feeling I got when I visited his statue.

For our Country Experience Reflection project I knew I had to go see this infamous statue, and after owning a vinyl record of his I thought it was the perfect time. On the drive over to Willie I was expecting this statue to be huge and extravagant. I expected a lot of color and maybe some of his music playing. However, when I got there I walked right past it. I did not even notice his statue. It was very simple and made me think of his album I just bought. The statue was of Willie sitting down holding his guitar, of course he was sporting his famous braids and bandana. There were not any splashes of color or music around him. He was just a statue at the corner of busy roads.

Willie Nelson statueThis begged me to question if I really understood Willie Nelson at all. I always thought of him as this outlaw that was loud and “in-your-face.” Now I see him as this laid back and “go-with-the-flow” type of guy. Maybe this is what makes him an outlaw in some ways. Country music seems to be all about the bling and Nashville commercialization, however Willie does not convey that. Is this why Willie is so popular? If you have visited the statue, did you feel the same simple atmosphere?

For another blogger’s experience visiting Willie Nelson’s statue, make sure to check out Abby Shamis’s post.

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Filed under Austin, Outlaw, Texas

Country Fascinated By Being “Homegrown”

One of the first words that come to mind when I hear “spring break” is road trip. Everyone leaves Austin and road trips somewhere, whether it be to Panama City, Gulf Shores, or just going back home. After making my way through the numerous midterms thrown my way, I made the choice of my spring break road trip to be driving the hour and a half trip home. As I drove home, switching between country radio stations the whole way, I realized that two songs in particular were played more than others. Not only were these two songs played a lot, but they also shared a very specific word in common: homegrown. I am talking about the songs “Homegrown Honey,” by Darius Rucker, and “Homegrown,” by Zac Brown Band.

Darius Rucker Homegrown HoneyDarius Rucker’s “Homegrown Honey” was released in August 2014 as the first single from his upcoming fifth studio album. The album, Southern Style, will be released on March 31, 2015. Rucker wrote the song with Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum and Nathan Chapman. It is about a country fish out of water that is turning heads. On the other hand, Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown” was released on January 12, 2015. It is the first single from the band’s fourth studio album, Jekyll + Hyde, set for release later in 2015. They sing about a man satisfied with the life he has rather than what it could be.

Zac Brown Band SNLAfter noticing that these two were only released five months apart and how their titles very closely resembled each other, I began to notice that they both depict being “homegrown” as a positive trait for one to possess. They both talk about someone’s roots, in particularly southern roots, as a wonderful characteristic. While Rucker describes being “homegrown” as wearing boots and downing whiskey, Zac Brown Band describes a more simplistic “homegrown” as having a piece of land in the countryside. Both use southern stereotypes found throughout any country song today.

However, Darius Rucker and Zac Brown Band are not the first and only ones to write about being homegrown, or having southern roots. Other recordings from the country music genre include songs such as Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country,” and Miranda Lambert’s song, written for a series of Ram Truck ads, “Roots and Wings.” Both really hook onto the word “roots.” Aldean and Lambert describe the stereotypical southern symbols just as Rucker and Zac Brown Band. Aldean uses symbols such as cowboy boots and down home roots, while Lambert uses guitar strings and calluses to represent her father’s roots and mother’s wings.

Why is country music so fascinated with being “homegrown” or having “down home roots”? Do they sing these songs for their typical listeners, who are from more rural backgrounds? Or is it just a topic they know will sell?

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Filed under Bro Country, Country Rock, Country Symbols, Music Videos, New Country, Song Analysis, Southern Rock

Rain. Josh Abbott Band. #Autumn coming soon.

As last week poured never ending rain and everyone’s rain boots were brought out from the back of their closets for the first time this year, I went back to a time where I didn’t curse the wind and the rain for breaking my umbrella and completely soaking me. Back to a moment where I encouraged the rain and grabbed the closest guy near me to dance the night away. I went back to the summer of 2012 where the Josh Abbott Band played at the Whitewater Music Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas during a thunderstorm.

As I reminisced about the great night of the Josh Abbott Band playing the performance of their lives, in my opinion, I realized how much I wished that Josh Abbott was a common household name like others, such as Carrie Underwood or George Strait. Now, if you do not know who Josh Abbott Band is, shame on you. If you are from Texas and still have no clue I am talking about, double shame on you. I encourage you all then to immediately listen to their signature song, based on the one that has gained them the most attention, “Oh, Tonight” featuring Kacey Musgraves.

The Josh Abbott Band

The Josh Abbott Band

The Josh Abbott Band was formed when lead singer, Josh Abbott, formed the group roughly eight to nine years ago while he was student at Texas Tech University. In the Lone Star State, they quickly became a “hometown band” everyone seemed to know all the words to. They also became huge, in Texas of course, for their concert performances. To describe one of their concerts in three words, the phrase “Damn good time” would perfectly fit. Rolling Stones even described their live shows as the Josh Abbott Band’s “bread and butter,” and as a band that was “building an audience one gig at a time.” Having been to seen them four times and never having the same experience and show as the last, I would urge you all to put them on your Bucket Lists.

At Josh Abbott's concert in the summer of 2014.

At Josh Abbott’s concert in the summer of 2014.

So why is this all relevant you may ask? Well, as of January 26 around 8:13 pm, Josh Abbott’s twitter account gave the world a little gift. He tweeted a part of his lyrics to a new song he is working on. The tweet stated: “In search of a beholder she’s beautiful despite her flaws. Turning a new leaf over, Autumn’s changing in the fall. #Autumn coming soon.” Could this be another sequel to “She Will Be Free” and “She Don’t Break”? I do not care what is, I know I will absolutely love it and will know every single word to it after the first five minutes of it being released. Hopefully, this could be the song that gains them the stardom they deserve. And if they never break that barrier, I will be completely content with their late Saturday night shows. I will proudly sing along to every one of their songs in my dress and cowboy boots.

Josh Abbott Twitter

Josh Abbott’s Tweet


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Filed under Dancing, Live Music, News, Texas