Category Archives: Reviews

The Beverly Hillbillies

Flipping through the channels I stumbled upon a show called “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Now I do not have cable so I usually find myself watching the black and white station more than in color. I know a 20-year-old college girl probably wasn’t their ideal target but I’ve been told that I’m an old soul as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is my absolute favorite movie. “The Beverly Hillbillies” was right up my alley as it is filled with corny jokes, banjo instrumentals and all around good humor.

First aired in September of 1962, “The Beverley Hillbillies,” initially deemed as unsophisticated by some critics, quickly rose to become a very popular show in America. Its episode “The Giant Jackrabbit” is still to this day the most watched half hour episode of a sitcom. I think this is one of the funnier episodes that I have watched.

The_Beverly_HillbilliesThe Clampett family was (I’m sure) a huge pull for audiences because they are amusing and likeable. While the show does give the image of simple-minded country folk it is all in good humor and doesn’t aim to do harm to any class of people. The hillbillies are the ones that come out on top in both money and familial ties the end. Besides the actual visuals of the show the music, whether it be the introduction or in the background, is very vital. At the beginning of every episode their theme song, The Ballad of Jed Clampett, is performed. It is a very catchy bluegrass tune, which was performed by Flatt and Scruggs. I didn’t know this at the time, but I watched an episode in which they were the guest stars.

This video is only a snippet of the entire episode, but I feel that it highlights their talent. It shows the influence of country music on “The Beverly Hillbillies” though there really is no other genre that would be suitable for this show. You can see in this episode that even the cast enjoys singing and dancing along with Flatt and Scruggs, as they are very gifted and charismatic. I invite all of you to sit and watch an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” I know that anything that is black and white is a deterrent for television viewers now a days, but I think it is nice to go back to a simpler time when good honest humor didn’t have to have “R-Rated” references to be funny. Watch an episode and tell me what you think! Did it put you to sleep or did you enjoy the simple comedy?

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Filed under Hillbilly, Movies and TV, Reflection, Reviews

Eric Church’s The Outsiders Tour

About a month ago, a few of my closest friends and I braved the chilly rainy Austin weather and headed to the Frank Erwin Center to attend the Eric Church Outsiders Tour. After hearing from Dusty that I could get tickets for ten dollars as a UT student, there was no way I was going to pass up this concert. Having seen many country music concerts in the past, I knew I was in for a treat.

Eric-Church-Outsiders-World-TourBefore the concert, I had occasionally heard the name Eric Church but barely knew much about him or his music. I was familiar with a few of his hit songs like “Springsteen” and “Talladega” that are constantly played on country radio, but never really thought of him as a top performing country artist. That being said, going into this concert, I had no idea what to expect from him or his songs.

Dawning our best “country” clothes, cowboy boots and all, my friends and I waited anxiously for Eric Church to start playing. We got there early enough to (unfortunately) catch the opening band, Drive-By Truckers. These guys were definitely an interesting choice for a country concert opener. They were a heavy rock band that seemed to yell more than sing, making it extremely difficult to understand what they were even saying. It’s safe to say that most everyone in the arena was relieved when they finished their set.

However, the wait was worth it when Eric Church finally walked casually onto the stage wearing his signature aviator sunglasses, plain t-shirt, and baseball cap. He immediately got the crowd pumped up by shouting things like “Hook ‘em Horns” and anything else related to the great city of Austin. I was amazed at how relaxed and normal he looked and sounded. He had such energy and charisma it was hard not to completely immerse yourself in the experience. I was completely taken off guard when he announced that he was going to be playing whatever he wanted to, with no set list. He pumped up the crowd by telling us that there was no set time limit to how long he would play and that “he would stay there all night”. He wanted everyone to simply enjoy themselves and the music he was about to play. This was so cool to me because it seemed like nothing was going to stop him from having fun and performing the way he wanted to. Nowadays, most huge concerts like his are carefully scripted and arranged a certain way, but Eric Church made it clear that this was not going to be a cookie cutter performance.

Florida Country Superfest  Inaugural Season Day 1The crowd’s excitement rose as he jammed to popular songs such as “Drink In My Hand”, “Smoke a Little Smoke”, “Give Me Back My Hometown”, and “Homeboy”, making each performance special and important. His audience interaction was more than I could’ve hoped for. From signing a woman’s rhinestoned boots that were thrown to him onstage to talking to the audience like we were his best friends, he took the time to make every single person there feel included in the experience. Stories about his little boy and home life moved the show along in between more top hits like “Springsteen”, “Creepin’” and “Cold One”. My friends and I stood up out of our seats the entire show, dancing and singing along even to the songs we didn’t know. During one song there was a huge inflatable monster looking thing that randomly popped up in the middle of the crowd. The whole show up to this point had gone on with little effects, making it a very raw and natural performance. To me, it was an unnecessary effect that took away from the simplicity of the concert, but nevertheless entertaining.

Eric-Church-on-ACL-350x350Eric Church’s concert was unlike any other performance of a male country artist. It wasn’t staged or scripted. There was no glitz or tons of special effects. He wasn’t trying to sell himself or his music. It was simple yet extremely engaging and memorable. This was the most natural performance from a rising star I have ever seen and for that I really admire him. He definitely took me by surprise throughout the show and forced me to completely change my view of him. Now I definitely see Eric Church for the talented singer he is and have since become a bigger fan of his than I think I ever thought I would be. By his last encore, I was so thrilled that my otherwise ordinary and boring Wednesday night had turned into a memorable concert experience shared with my good friends. To anyone who loves Eric Church or doesn’t know a thing about him, I would highly recommend seeing him in concert for an exhilarating and memorable experience.

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Filed under Austin, Bro Country, Live Music, Reflection, Reviews

Older Artists Releasing New Albums

While doing my album analysis essay on Willie Nelson’s most recent album, Band of Brothers, released in 2014, I noticed a phenomenon in country music of older country stars releasing albums later in life that perform extremely well on the charts. Band of Brothers was one such example: it was released in 2014, and was his 67th studio album. It was also only his third album to ever crack the Billboard Top 10, debuting at #5, and #1 on country charts, his best debut performance in 28 years. So why was this album so popular? One reason is that it contains mostly Nelson-penned songs, something his other recent albums haven’t contained, so this could appeal to his loyal fans. Another reason is young people: people who may have not heard his music before are hearing it now on these later albums, and liking it and buying it, making Nelson reach a whole new fan base.

Dolly Parton's Blue SmokeAnother example is Dolly Parton, and the release of Blue Smoke, her 42nd studio album, in 2014. This album performed amazingly for a Dolly solo album. It was her first top 10 solo album ever, had the best first week sales of all of her solo projects, and it was her highest Best Country Albums debut, debuting at #2. The album got critical review too, with critics raving that she just gets better with age. Unlike Nelson’s Band of Brothers, Blue Smoke is a traditional Dolly Parton album, with both upbeat songs and ballads, dealing with love and heartache. So why did it perform so well? Part of the reason is that lately in Parton’s albums, she has kept the whole album focused on one sound, and in this one she mixes genres, like she used to. She puts a lot of heart and soul into the album, and many critics agree that it is her best album in years, with nothing really new coming from Parton, but the songs being solid and just nice to listen to, which is probably why it performed so well on the charts and got such great reviews.

Johnny Cash's American VFinally, Johnny Cash is much different than these two. Towards the end of his life, he began releasing a series of albums called American III, IV, and V, that included covers of popular 20th century rock songs. He sang them in a very stripped down style, and though old and sick, his voice still sounds great and as deep and soulful as ever. He recorded these albums because he knew he was dying, and wanted to record some more before he was gone, giving the world a few last great albums. Indeed, American V was a posthumous release, released 3 years after his death, and it reached #1 on the Top Albums and Top Country albums. This could have been a reason for its popularity, as well as the covers of songs that people know and love. His version of Nine Inch Nails’s “Hurt” won a MTV Music Video Award for Best Cinematography, which made the album appeal to a younger generation that watches MTV. He also won a Grammy for Best Country Male Vocal Performance for another song on the album “Give My Love to Rose.” All of these factors contribute to why his album was so popular, because winning awards and charting high all add visibility to Johnny Cash, who people my age might not have known about if not for these immensely popular albums.

There is a string of older artists releasing new albums in later life, and them charting very well. We don’t really know why, but doing so has proven a very smart career move for these three that I have talked about. They all enjoyed great album sales, and a lot of increased publicity, and interest by young people who might not have listened to their music otherwise, deeming it music their parents listened to. Releasing these albums keeps them fresh and relevant to everyone, new fans and old.

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Filed under Classic Country, Country Symbols, Countrypolitan, Outlaw, Reviews, USA

Death in a Country Song

Country music has always been known for telling a captivating story. While many people believe that all country song are about beer, girls, and trucks, artists are still writings songs that break the norm and touch people’s heart. Country music tells beautiful stories about birth, intriguing stories about life, and unfortunately the sad truths about death. After doing my album analysis of Martina McBride’s Eleven, I started thinking about how many country songs cover the tragic story of death and sickness.

Martina McBride’s “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” is about a wife and mother of three who finds out she has breast cancer. The song follows her before, during, and after her treatments. Luckily, the woman in Martina McBride’s song doesn’t die, but instead pushes through the treatment with the support from her husband. This song ends on a happy note because no one passes away, but unfortunately not every song has such a happy ending.

Alabama’s “The Christmas Shoes” played on my iPod yesterday and I couldn’t help but tear up. This emotional song is about a young boy who is trying to buy some shoes for his mother for Christmas. The listener quickly learns that the mother is very sick and not expected to live past Christmas. The boy doesn’t have enough money to pay for the shoes, so the man behind him at the cash register helps him cover the cost. This is another song where someone is very sick, but instead of making a healthy recovery, the family is doing whatever they can to make the mother more comfortable.

Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” also ends with someone close to death, but instead takes a more inspirational turn when the man tries ensure everyone that he is going to a better place. This man’s temporary home was Earth and now he has stated that his is going home to heaven. I have seen Carrie Underwood perform this song in concert twice and each time I can’t help but think how comforting it must be to anyone who is about to, or already has lost a loved one.

The last song I will talk about is “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. I had never really listen to the lyrics of this song until heard The Band Perry preform it live last summer. This is a very sad song about a person deciding how they want to be buried if they were to die young. Most young people never even consider this, but this song is about the singer not being afraid of death.

Most rap or hip-hop song are about living life to the fullest, but country songs do a beautiful job of tackling the more emotional topics that many artists don’t like to think about.


Filed under Lists, Live Music, Music Videos, Reflection, Reviews

“Take Your Time” Video Has a Surprising Theme

imageEvery morning on my drive to school, I listen to The Bobby Bones Show broadcast on a country radio station in Austin. During spring break while listening, Bobby, the show’s head personality, was discussing Sam Hunt and his newly released music video for “Take Your Time”. Interestingly enough, the music video revolves around domestic violence, a highly publicized topic in the media since Ray Rice was charged with assault on his wife in 2012. After having listened to the song, I was surprised by the message of the video; it seemed to me like a song about romance, and a guy who wants to treat a girl right. After much discussion on the radio about how the music video fits with the song, I decided it was worth looking into.

The video opens with a confusing fight scene between two unrecognizable people, and the song starts with Sam Hunt walking away from the camera. The video alternates between these two people interacting and Hunt walking down a street. Hunt and the woman have multiple run-ins, but don’t actually interact. This woman takes care of cleaning up after her boyfriend, evident by the large quantity of beer bottles in their home. After the first chorus, the woman and her boyfriend are seen fighting, which takes an emotional toll on the woman. After he gets in a fight in the bar, the couple gets into a fight and he hits her. She proceeds to lock herself in their room while he is outside the door, and begins packing her clothes and her son to move. As she’s about to get into the car, her husband starts hitting her again. Sam Hunt comes up off the street and intervenes, allowing the girl to get away. The video closes out with the boyfriend walking off and the woman and baby safe, but with a large bruise on her cheekbone.

After watching the video, I can completely see how the song connects with the theme of the music video. His lyrics say “I don’t want to steal your freedom”, which clarifies that his intentions are only to help her, instead of taking advantage of her vulnerability in the situation. He also states that “[he] ain’t gotta call you mine”, implying that his interest is more focused in helping her with her situation than fulfilling his desires. Overall, I thought the music video was extremely relatable and deeply intertwined with the lyrics of the song. Sam Hunt portraying a character who acts a Good Samaritan is a great image to perpetuate as he gains more momentum in the music industry. I fully support the belief that the song and the movie follow the same plot line, and I think Hunt does a good job bringing a negative situation to public attention without being depressing.

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Filed under Music Videos, Reviews