Category Archives: Classic Country

My Summer at KOKE FM

KokeFMThis past summer, I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the radio station KOKE FM. For those of you who have never heard of the station, its a country alternative station – meaning they play every type of country from classic to outlaw to current. Not only did I learn a lot of rewarding career experience from the internship, but I also learned so much more about country music in general. For example, I had never heard of Chris Stapleton, knew the significance of Merle Haggard, or knew people still appreciated Willie Nelson’s music before this summer.

I interned for the 6am morning show, meaning I had to get up at 4am to make it to work by 5am every weekday morning – yes I went to work when most people were coming home from the bars. My boss was the man who owned the station and on-air talent Bob Cole. Bob was actually inducted in the Country Music On-Air Personality Hall of Fame in 2003, so my boss was pretty awesome. I actually really came to enjoy the early mornings because my job was fairly simple and everyday was something different. One day the guys bought 10 different vanilla ice cream brands to see which ones could [temporarily] replace Blue Bell. Random country singers would come on the show. Some days the guys even let us interns talk on-air.

IMG_1014There was one day in particular that I will probably remember most about working at the station. One day I was logging the show like I always do, and a short, older man with the whitest hair and tattoos covering his arms walked through the door. It took a long stare and at least 30 seconds of processing to realize that THE Dale Watson had just walked 3 feet away from me and flashed his Dale Watson smile while saying “good morning” in his deep Alabama accent. He just walked himself into the studio with Bob like he had been there a thousand times before. And there I was fangirling so hard when my other boss, Eric Raines, told me that Bob wanted to see me. As I pulled myself together, I walked into the studio and Bob introduced me to THE Dale Watson. And THE Dale Watson shook MY hand as he repeated my name, and I swear my heart stopped for a solid 5 seconds. Bob wanted me to go get Dale some coffee, and I happily did so while nervously overthinking how much cream and sugar THE Dale Watson wants in his coffee. As I gave the coffee to Mr. Watson, he thanked me and said my name AGAIN. So that is the day I met THE Dale Watson and fell in love with my job even more. I’m a dork.

IMG_0910All the guys I worked with knew so much and currently have standing relationships with so many different country artists. Honestly, working there makes me appreciate everything I’m learning in this class so much more because if I want to end up doing my own country radio show, learning the true history and meaning behind the genre is the best way to be successful at it. I can’t say enough how lucky I was to score that internship and be able to learn so much more about country music as well as producing a radio show. If you’re interested in radio and country music, I highly recommend interning at KOKE FM. But if you just like listening to country music, turn the radio to 98.5 every now and then to hear some of the best country music ever made deejayed by some of the coolest guys I’ve ever worked with.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Classic Country, Live Music, New Country, Outlaw, Reflection

Making the Most of Everything: Country Music Lessons

For every nostalgic song produced by country music, there is one that reflects on the opposite message. Living in the moment is important for everyone, especially in a time where little distractions are so common. In order to have no regrets, you have to make the most of every minute, which is a hard task. Country music always cuts to the heart of a matter, and this topic is no different. As someone in college who is trying to make the most of these four years, these songs will always have a special place. Here are five of the greatest ‘living in the moment’ country songs:

“I Hope You Dance” – Lee Ann Womack

This country pop song came out in March 2000, and won multiple awards. Lee Ann Womack reminds me of Carrie Underwood in some ways. This song is filled with hope about the future and emphasizes not letting any time go by without making the most of it. It’s hard not to feel inspired!

“Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along, / Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone”

“Don’t Blink” – Kenny Chesney

If you’re a fan of Kenny Chesney, then you know that this song is one of his all-time greats. It veers away from his traditional carefree, relaxed beach vacation songs. (Beer in Mexico will always be a classic!) It is fitting that the 2007 album was titled Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates. He tries to figure out the secret to life, and it’s pretty simple, just live! It seems like just yesterday when I first came to UT, so I definitely relate to this song.

“Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think…So don’t blink”

“I Saw God Today” – George Strait

You wouldn’t think that a song about new baby would really be relatable to most college students, but it’s the general idea that any major life event creates some reflection and a desire to not let things go by so fast. George Strait released this song on his album Troubadour in 2008- considered one of the finest in his long career.

“His fingerprints are everywhere / I just slowed down to stop and stare / Opened my eyes and man I swear, I saw God today”

“You’re Gonna Miss This” – Trace Adkins

A dad who is watching his daughter grow up narrates this song. Each stage of her life brings struggles but also blessings, something everyone can relate to. When the times get too trying, it’s easy to wish you get over the hump and be past it, but there’s so much good you could miss with that kind of outlook. He stresses to her to enjoy every stage of life, because there’s always a part of it she’s going to miss.

“You’re gonna miss this / You’re gonna want this back / You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast”

“Live Like You Were Dying”

In my opinion, this is the ultimate song about living in the moment. I have gotten to see Tim McGraw perform this song three different times in person, and I still get goosebumps. Between the lyrics, the sound, and the way Tim McGraw sings the song, it extremely powerful. The message is clear in this 2004 hit- don’t just live life, live it to the fullest and truly appreciate every moment.

“And he said someday I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dying”

No matter the situation or circumstances, or even the phase of our lives that we find ourselves in, country music remains clear on one thing. Enjoy life and don’t take time for granted- live in the moment!


Filed under Blog Post 3, Classic Country, Country Pop, Song Analysis

Haters Gon’ Hate (Country Music)

Why do people hate country music? I think that is the one thing I absolutely don’t understand in life, especially down here in the South. Country music fits all emotions, covers all issues, and relates to all types of people. But why do so many people drink the country music haterade?

country hateradeI guess my teen years really helped expand my love for the genre. Teen angst was real, but I always felt better when a country song would come on the radio that I could deeply relate to on an emotional level. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone, and that’s pretty much the recurring theme when you’re 13 and wanting to fit in.

Country music is stronger than ever these days with cross-over artists like Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, and Florida Georgia Line. These songs are obviously more pop-sounding to reach the mainstream audiences. But as a true country music fan, I’d rather listen to the 80s and 90s era of country than almost anything I hear on the radio today.

When you’re at a party and the night is coming to a close, and some brave soul turns on “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks, what person would refuse to shout obnoxiously to the beginning lines “Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots”? It is a complete game changer when you go from dirty rap to good ole’ classic country. The night may be dwindling down but my heart is happy when the two-stepping breaks out. Even if you had the worst night, you can’t hate on the person that is twirling you across the floor to some good lookin’ George Strait.

Country music is the best way to live. There are so many country songs about different issues and events that have happened throughout history. “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” by Alan Jackson relates to the horrific tragedy of 9/11. There are so many country songs about American pride like “Only in America” by Brooks & Dunn and “American Soldier” by Toby Keith. Country is sensitive and rarely offensive unlike many songs we hear on the radio today.

Any person can find some country song they can relate to. “Brokenheartsville” by Joe Nichols relates to the heartbroken. “Bye Bye” by Jo Dee Messina is a great moving-on anthem. “Wild One” by Faith Hill speaks to all the rebellious teen girls. “Red Ragtop” by Tim McGraw references a couple’s life after abortion. Almost any Jason Aldean song can give the guys a sense of nostalgia of younger years. Give me a situation; I’ll find a country song for it.

In my opinion, everyone should love country music because I don’t see any reason to hate it. Country music truly brings me back down to Earth. It calms me down, it hypes me up, it makes me cry, and Brad Paisley can make me laugh on any given day. Maybe I’m just okay with feeling emotions, but everyone feels them at one point or another; who wouldn’t want a country song there for comfort? I may never understand the country music haters, but I’ll defend the genre until I die.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Classic Country, Country Pop, Reflection, USA

Like Father Like Daughter

It surprises me sometimes just how much my family influences my opinions and attitudes. Growing up I had my fair share of “I will never do that to my kid” moments, but recently I have begrudgingly realized that I am the spitting image of my parents. Their influence, especially my father’s, has carried over into my tastes in music. As an eight-year-old kid I craved the moments we would go driving on rural country roads because it meant my dad would let me sit in the front seat. He would pop his favorite CD of easy-going music in the radio and sing along to Jimmy Buffett with the windows rolled down. This was the kind of music he referred to as “the best stuff on earth,” and I could not agree more. As a child, I had no idea what a “margaritaville” was, I just knew that I liked the sound of the steel drums and thought the singer was overreacting to the loss of a salt shaker. Soon I found myself knowing all of the words to the songs on the CD and loving it.

It wasn’t long before my dad exposed me to a slightly different type of music. This time the acoustic guitar was the star and the songs described the exact country roads we were driving on. Kenny Chesney was the first country artist I was introduced to, and he remains to this day one of my absolute favorites (he even pays homage to the great Jimmy Buffett in his hit “How Forever Feels“). His down-home lyrics and nostalgic sound make even the most unsentimental listener wistful for the past, a characteristic I find to be especially important in country music.

The song I think best reflects the role my family played in developing my taste in country music is “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson featuring Jimmy Buffett. And no, not for its literal meaning, but rather for the way it makes you feel like you don’t have a care in the world. When I hear the hints of island sound, it reminds me of the breeze blowing through my hair as I listened to Jimmy Buffett in the car with my dad, and of course Buffett’s vocal cameo in the song only makes that memory stronger. I also appreciate how the lyrics create a sense of total relaxation. The line “The sun is hot and that old clock is moving slow, and so am I” makes the listener feel warm and stress-free as if they themselves were in margaritaville.

All around, Alan Jackson is an amazing artist and holds a special place in my love of country music. His classic sound has inspired me to listen to older country stars in a time when pop-country is pervasive throughout the genre, and he reminds me to always stay close to my roots. His was the first country concert I ever went to, and on top of it all it was one that I was able to attend with my dad. So I guess no matter how hard I might try to refute it, my parents do have some good taste.


Filed under Blog Post 1, Classic Country

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