“I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore”

Written by Lejla Pracic. 10 November 2014. 

After winning American Idol in 2005, Carrie Underwood released her debut album, Some Hearts. Included on this album is the song “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore.” Carrie Underwood co wrote this song with Trey Bruce, an American country music songwriter. Growing up on a farm in Checotah, Oklahoma Carrie Underwood loved doing things like “playing on dirt roads, climbing trees, catching little woodland creatures, and singing” (Web). “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore” depicts the very life that Underwood used to have before she became a country music star. In this description of her life back home in Checotah, the song refers to the things Underwood used to do compared to what her life entails now.

This song follows a verse-chorus-bridge song form. It includes four verses, a chorus, and an instrumental segment. In the introduction there is a very soft strumming of what seems to be the guitar but it also sounds very much like a ukulele. Right before the lyrics start to come in, the guitar creates a fluttering sound. This allows for a very soft introduction to the song. Beginning the first verse, “where 69 meets 40, there’s a single stop light town…” Underwood delivers the lyrics in a quiet tone. This allows the listener to grasp the emotion within the song. It shows the reminiscing taking place within the lyrics. However, right before the song transitions into the second verse, the instruments start to play at a more upbeat tempo and Underwood begins to sing in a louder tone. She lets her voice set the distinction between her life in Checotah and her life now. The pace of the song here is appropriate as it perfectly describes the fast pace life that New York has to offer. At this particular point the audience learns that Underwood has realized that her life has changed.

In the chorus, “I Aint’t Checotah Anymore”, takes on a more dramatic sound than the rest of the song. There is a change in Underwood’s voice because she moves to the upper register of her voice, singing in a higher tone. She also utilizes the strategy of extending some of the lyrics. For example in the lyric, “I’m in a world so wide…” Underwood stretches out the word “wide”. This mechanism implies to the audience how big her new. Followed by the next line, “It makes me feel small sometimes…” Underwood distinctly breaks down the syllables of the word “sometimes”. In the last line of the chorus, she extends the notes in “kind”. In ending the chorus, Underwood’s voice gets really high. There is a lot of emotion that strikes through these notes and gives the listener great insight into the feeling that falls behind these lyrics. The chorus appears in the song again right after verse three and once again before the outro.

At time mark 1:55, the chorus plays again but this time with a slight change from the first time. Here, the listener will notice that Underwood holds the last note of “Oklahoma kind” out just a little bit longer. She holds the word “kind” out for a longer time than before. Also at the end of this chorus, you hear the sound of the violin for a split second. The last time the chorus shows up in the song, Underwood’s voice stands at a very high pitch and she still utilizes the strategy of stretching out some lyrics like “kind” and Oklahoma.” At the lyric, “I ain’t in Checotah anymore…” she transitions into a softer voice. There is also repetition of lyrics in the phrase “But I ain’t in Checotah, no I ain’t in Checotah.” This places great emphasis on the understanding that she is no longer in Checotah. Leading into the outro, the last chorus ends with a softer tone.

There is an instrumental part to this song right at the end before the last chorus plays. It is not a very long instrumental but you can hear the violin and how it becomes part of the instrument for the outro of the song. In the outro Underwood carries a really soft tone and all the instruments disappear except the guitar. The only thing the listener hears is her singing and the guitar softly playing. This is realization that life for Underwood would never again be, as she knew it. “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore” ends with a fading out of Underwood’s voice and the guitar. In addition to the stylistic strategies already mentioned, this song also posses a unique style. There is great clarity and appropriateness with this song. This was a very prominent time in Underwood’s life. She was going through a very dramatic change.

With this song, she is able to share that part of her life with her listeners. It is a very appropriate lyric for this special occasion at that point in her life. There is great clarity as well here. It is very easy for the listener to understand the emotion placed behind this song. The arrangement and melody allow for the song to play out a story of one day your life changing into something completely different than what you are use to. Underwood mentions herself that “[she] never thought that any of this would happen to [her]” (Web). “These kinds of things only happen to imaginary characters on television or in movies, not real people,” she says (Web).

With the use of different stylistic strategies and different components of style, the song is able to clearly portray the intended message to the listeners. It allows the audience to really feel what the song is about. They are able to experience the real emotion behind the lyrics and really get a front row seat to this part of Carrie Underwood’s life. It allows for them to share a special time with Underwood.

Time Form Listening Cue Discussion
0:00 Introduction Guitar and ukulele Song begins with a very soft strumming of what seems to be the quitar but it sounds very much like the ukulele, it’s a very soft intro to the song
0:13 Verse 1 ‘Where sixty nine meets forty…” Underwood delivers the lyrics in a really quiet tone, right before going into the second verse, the instruments pickup and Underwood begins to sing at a much up beat pace,the song changes from a slow pace into a more upbeat rhythm
0:52 Verse 2 “My hotel in Manhattan holds more people…” The instruments pick up pace, you can hear the drums in the background,at this point the song has a steady upbeat arrangement, Underwood sings the lyrics in a way that clearly distinguishes the difference between the two places
1:16 Chorus “I’m in a world so wide…” Underwood’s voice gets a little higher in the chorus, she stretches some lyrics out like “wide”, she breaks down some words in to syllables “some-tim-es”, she hold outs the notes in the last lyric “kind”, her voice gets really high at the ending of the chorus, the instruments stay constant from the beginning of the song, with more power in the drums
1:32 Verse 3 “In a world of long red carpets…” The instruments carry the same pace from the chorus, Underwood’s voice doesn’t change much but does go back to a lower register than from that of the ending of the chorus, Underwood does do a staircase mechanism in the last lyric “make a girl feel pretty goo-ood”, there is some kind of winding noise in the background in addition to the drums
1:55 Chorus “I’m in a world so wide…” The chorus is identical to the first one expect this time Underwood hold the last note out a little bit longer in the lyric “Oklahoma kind” and right at the end you hear the violin come in for a small second
2:11 Bridge “Where the wildcats beat the iron heads…” There’s a more dramatic sound in the instruments right at the beginning of the bridge, you can also hear the violin, Underwood sings in a higher voice here until she gets towards the ends of the bridge then she goes down into a lower tone
2:30 Instrumental Ukulele, drums, and violin Instrumental doesn’t last very long, violin leads right into the last chorus
2:37 Chorus “Oh yeah, I’m in a world so wide…” At this point Underwood’s voice is at a very high pitch, she still stretches out some words like “Oklahoma” and “kind” but then goes to a softer voice when she sings the lyrics “I ain’t in Checotah” there is also repetition of lyrics here, ends this chorus with a softer tone leading into the outro
3:06 Outro ‘Where sixty nine meets forty…” Underwood sings in a really soft one, all instruments fall off except the ukulele, the song ends with a fading of out of her voice and instrument

Works Cited

“Carrie Marie Underwood.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 6 Oct. 2014.

Widran, Jonathan. Carrie Underwood Talks About Breakthrough. Singer Universe. 2013. 5 Nov. 2014.