Category Archives: Song Analysis

So It Turns Out I Actually Love Country Music

I vividly remembering walking into the classroom for this course on a chilly January day. I remember sitting down in one of the rolling chairs and discussing the millionaire dollar question – what is country music and what about it makes it so, well, country? I had no idea what I was getting myself into then, but I’ve learned a heck of a lot along the way.

1. Lessons from Willie

IMG_4768To be honest, I didn’t really know a single thing about Willie Nelson before coming into this class. I read the Texas Monthly write-up on the statue, and I love that the statue was put there to help keep Austin weird, especially since Outlaw country singer Willie Nelson certainly has helped our city do just that. I also love the fact that our city changed the street name to “Willie Nelson” in his honor, seeing as how he’s part of what has made our great city the Live Music Capital of the world (and that’s far weirder than “2nd street”).

The funny thing though is that all I had heard about him was that he was a pot-smoking hippy still recording country music. But after studying him in class, especially seeing the clear cut picture of him as a young boy, it’s amazing to see just how much he changed his image over the years. That made me realize and gain a new respect for country artists who don’t just change to fit an ‘image’, but rather, those who are born a country boy or cowboy and just make music as one (like, you got it, good ole Chris LeDoux).

2. Reading the Texas Music Magazine
For Blog 5While reading the Texas Music Magazine the other day, I stumbled across this particularly intriguing article about Kacey Musgraves, a young singer-songwriter from a small, East-Texas town who is, as they said, “taking Nashville by storm.” The article discussed a hit single (“Merry Go ‘Round”) she wrote off of an album she released a few years ago. The chorus includes a little something like this “Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay / Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane / and Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down.”

These subversive lyrics, and especially hearing how Musgraves and some fellow cowriters came up with them, shocked me a bit – these are very real struggles in a small town. When I came into this class, I truly thought the stereotype about country was true: that songs had to talk about romance (or cheating), drinking, or trucks or something to be “country.” However, this song helped me realize just how clever and realistic country can be too!

3. Two-Stepping at a Dance Hall
FullSizeRender (2)Now, I’m not the most coordinated guy out there, and I had actually been out country dancing once or twice last semester, but I didn’t particularly enjoy myself – the dance floor was too packed and I was too focused on the proper movements. I’ve had lots of practice since then though, and going to Dance Across Texas on Saturday night with my fiancé and a bunch of other couples was a blast! I genuinely enjoyed not only dancing, but especially listening to the nice country tunes that were playing.

My perception of country music has completely changed over the past few months. I came in judging the genre according to incorrect stereotypes that I’ve already explained a little, as well as being naive about artists within the genre, and I’m finishing this course recognizing that I truly, legitimately love country music now. I can’t wait for another chance to go to a Country Western dance hall, enjoying the dancing and the music.


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 5, Dancing, Reflection, Song Analysis

Maybe The Band Perry Won’t Live Forever

We all have accepted the fact that Taylor Swift has flown away from the land of country music, and those few fans that admired her country tunes are still somewhat offended by this realization. Pop is trendy. Pop is in-the-moment flare. Pop is, well, overplayed and nothing special. I lose almost all respect for country artist that desert their home for the five seconds of fame in Pop Land (yes, I did just make up a new continent). The country music genre is home to meaningful, insightful, legendary stories in the form of music that lives on for decades after. Who has ever said the same of Pop music? Oh that’s right, no one. This leads me to my topic of frustration today: The Band Perry’s treacherous venture into the land of Pop-Rock music.

The trio’s new single, released in mid-August, title “Live Forever,” is anything but country. Let me tell you, the first time I heard this song was on a Pop station on my XM radio last week. I paused on the station I normally would’ve immediately skipped when I saw the name of a band I admired. Confused as to why a Pop station would play music from a country trio, I quickly became horrified. I stared in disbelief at the screen displaying the album cover and the song title. There is no way this is the same band that plays so many of my favorite tunes, I thought to myself as the upbeat, Disney-theme-sounding chorus played through my speakers. I don’t get it! I thought bands weren’t allowed to copy each other’s names… and why would someone else want to call their band “The Band Perry” as well? I was trying to think up any alternative other than the truth, which was that the song playing through my speakers was, sadly, The Band Perry.

It’s not that I despise the song itself. It’s catchy and decently written by the trio. Take a listen yourself in the music video I posted up top. The video, on a quick side note, is also very creative and brings back nostalgia for summer freedoms and being with friends, just as many country songs do. The thing that really gets my hair in a knot is the fact that the band decided to turn to the Pop-rock genre for this single. The song isn’t played on country stations. Why? Because it’s not country. It’s played on Pop stations. Popular country music blog, Taste of Country, gave the song positive reviews with praise for its “big,” “vivid” sound. I just can’t stand the fact that great, successful country bands think they need to drift over to the Poppy side of music to stay popular. Are we country fans not good enough? It’s almost like a stab in the back. We like these bands because they play music we like in a genre we love, not because they belittle themselves to the pop-culture and make crappy, not-at-all original tunes. I don’t see the overwhelming need for The Band Perry to join the Pop side of things. Stick to country music please, your fans love you for that.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Country Pop, Song Analysis

Giving Thanks: Top 5 Country Songs about Thanksgiving

As we gear into the holiday season, it is important for us to think about our blessings and giving thanks to our friends in family. Most people value the food and parties as the most important part of the holidays, but we should take a step back and focus on what really matters, our friends and family. Now, country music discusses many topics such as drinking, tailgating, heartache, and love but what does it have to say about being thankful, here is a countdown of what I believe to be the top 5 country songs about Thanksgiving.

5. Pat Green, “Lucky” (2004)

Pat Green hopes that we win a million dollars or date a supermodel, but he also gives us the story of a regular guy. He says that the biggest victory in life fall  “beneath this red, white and big blue sky/With your job, your car, your family, your friends/The love of a girl that you know will never end.” That is what we should truly be thankful for and what aspects of life we are lucky to have.

4. Willie Nelson, “I’m Alive” (2008)

Willie Nelson sings, “As for me, I’d like to thank my lucky stars / That I’m alive and well,” He wants us to focus on the most important and little things in life that most people take for granted. Being alive and well is something we should be very thankful for, and this hit by Willie Nelson reminds us of this.

3. Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You” (2011)

At first listen, this song sounds like it is merely a love song, but digging deeper this song is more than a story of a hopeless romantic. The song can be applied to any important person in our life. It is a song to show us that we are never alone. It is ironic that this song, for Shelton, is about his ex-wife Miranda Lambert. I wonder if he now applies this song for new girlfriend and fellow Voice coach, Gwen Stefani. Either way, this song reminds us if what were truly thankful for, friends and family.

2. Travis Tritt, “It’s a Great Day to be Alive” (2000)

“And it’s a great day to be alive / I know the sun’s still shinin’ when I close my eyes / There’s some hard times in the neighborhood / But why can’t everyday be just this good.” The chorus of this song reminds us to be thankful for everyday. Tritt also tells us that even when we are having hard days to take a step back and look at all that we have to be thankful for.

1. Martina McBride, “Blessed” (2000)

This CMA nominated hit by Martina McBride is the #1 song about Thanksgiving because she explains the little things of life we are blessed to have. The chorus states that, “At the end of every day / I have been blessed / With so much more than I deserve / To be here with the ones that love me / To love them so much it hurts / I have been blessed.” This song discusses our blessings in a humble manner and reminds us to thank God for the gifts we have been given that are “so much more than I deserve.” Martina McBride truly encompasses all aspects of Thanksgiving in this beautifully written song.

Before you dive face first in the turkey, think about what you are thankful for. Hopefully this list gets you into the Holiday spirit and makes you realize how blessed we are. Happy Thanksgiving!


Filed under Lists, Reflection, Song Analysis

4 George Strait Songs That Deserve That #1 Seat


“Unless you’re God or George Strait, Take Off Your Boots”. Known as the “King of country music”, George Strait has released 59 #1 singles. Believe it or not, some of his greatest songs didn’t quite reach that #1 seat and here is a list of four that deserve it:

1) “Marina Del Rey” released in 1982

Released as a single from his album, Strait from the Heart, this is a song about a memory made with a love a man met while in Marina Del Rey. “As we looked into each others’ eyes/ We found our bodies lost in paradise/ Like castaways in Marina Del Rey.” We sense the affair between the two characters as something they will remember for the rest of the their lives. This song embodies notions listeners want to feel – passionate love.

2) “Amarillo by Morning” released in 1982

“Amarillo by Morning”, also a single released from the album, Strait from the Heart, describes the life of a rodeo man. Strait sings about the love the narrator has for rodeo life stating, “I ain’t got a dime but what I got is mine, I ain’t rich but Lord I’m free”. This song is relatable to many people who do what they love simply because they enjoy it.

3) “The Cowboy Rides Away” released in 1984

I know what you are thinking, “The Cowboy Rides Away” has to be a #1. Nope, but it sure deserves to be. From the album, Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, this song tells us about relationship that has had its ups and downs. The song concludes by telling us “the last goodbyes the hardest one to say. This is where the cowboy rides away”. This song always seem to be the last song played at a dance, where you’re sure to see a full dance floor.

4) “Cowboys Like Us” released in 2003

“Cowboys Like Us” reached #2 on Billboard Hot Country Singles from his album Honkeytonkville. This song is an ode to all the real cowboys still left out there. “Cowboys like us sure do have fun/ racin’ the wind, chasin’ the sun.” I picture a bunch of boys on horses, wearing cowboy hats riding down the pasture having a genuine good time. How can you not love that? “There’ll be no regrets, no worries and such/ For cowboys like us.” This carefree way of life brings out the inner cowboy in all of us.

From break ups and heartache to love and passion, George Strait has sung about it all. These four songs symbolize the true meaning of country music. We applaud George Strait’s talents and the fact that he has had so many #1’s, but hey these songs deserve that count to be 63.


Filed under Blog Post 3, Lists, New Traditionalism, Song Analysis, Texas

Spooky Country Songs To Get You In The Halloween Spirit

One of the spookiest weekends of the year is upon us. Ghosts, witches, zombies and werewolves roam the streets for Halloween weekend. While it is so easy to find country songs about Christmas, it is rare for anyone to think of country music and Halloween together, but there are definitely songs out there that get their spookiness on. Listening to them around Halloween time can really escalate their meanings. The night of this spooky holiday is all about the “scaries,” and to get you in the mood, here is a list of 5 of the spookiest country songs through out time that I have complied from research, and from songs that I have personally found to be appropriate for Halloween vibes.

  1. “It’s a Monster’s Holiday” by Buck Owens

I can’t help but start this list off with this song. If it doesn’t get you in the Halloween mood I am not really sure what will. If you can’t tell merely from the title, this song is all about the creatures that encompass the meaning of Halloween. Dragons, zombies, Frankenstein, gremlins, goblins, Dracula, and Wolfman are all of the monster’s that are being celebrated during the Halloween season. Buck Owens sang one of the most directly Halloween related songs that I have found, and I like it.

  1. “Two Black Cadillacs” by Carrie Underwood

Don’t ever cheat on Carrie Underwood. “Two Black Cadillacs” is only one of many songs that she has about a cheating boyfriend or husband, but it is arguably the most serious. It is about a wife teaming up with “the other woman” to take out the guy that they both thought was theirs. The music in the song along with the lyrics create an eerie sounding threat that would scare me if I was a cheating guy. The song is very vague about how the women killed the husband, but its sound and the lyrics do make a convincing point to be scared of two pissed off women.

  1. “Creepin’” by Eric Church

Eric Church’s song Creepin’ is a song is about him looking back on a previous relationship, but his lyrics take it further than him just being reminiscent about his loss, the imagery makes it creepy. “Your cocaine kiss and caffeine love, run under my skin and into my blood.” This line could make any listener’s blood quiver, and the chorus following adds to the creepiness factor. “Ivy crawlin’,” “living in glass,” “like a honeybee beatin’ on my screen door,” and the 30 times the word “creepin’” is used all contribute to the eeriness. I realize that this song won’t really scare anyone, but it’s tune and sound along with vivid imagery make the song perfect for this Halloween season.

  1. “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Johnny Cash

Have you ever wondered what hell looks like? Well for a cowboy it would be endlessly chasing around a bunch of mad cows and never being to catch them. And what’s worse? They seem to be devil cows. In this song, Cash has painted a picture of cowboy hell. I picture a very scary setting that is filled with blood and demons, and that is often what I run into on a Halloween night (but the things I run into aren’t real, so I am ok with it.)

  1. “Better Dig Two” by the Band Perry

This song is actually a bit disturbing if you really pay attention to the lyrics. The Band Perry’s song “Better Dig Two” is about a girl who is so freaky obsessed with her husband that she plans to die if they are ever separated by death or divorce so she won’t have to see him with someone else. She talks about their burial process as the pre-chorus (one of the catchiest parts of the song) for if he dies before her. This girl takes “till death do us part” very seriously, to the point where its spooky.

As Halloween approaches, listen to these songs with this more spooky perspective in mind. When I did, it made me even more aware of the eeriness in so many of these songs. There are many other songs out there that could be included on this list, so as you are listening to country music this week, try to be more aware of the lyrics to see if there is a scary factor that you didn’t even notice before.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Lists, Song Analysis