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

A Semester to Remember

countryCountry music has always been a huge part of my life ever since I was a little girl when my grandpa would take me to the rodeo and stock yards. Over this semester not just through my time in class but my experiences outside of class as well just furthered my love and understanding of country music. I am so happy I took this class and got to learn what country music really is from class and my experience two-stepping, watching a country movie, and watching a televised award show.

Time to Two-Step

I had never actually been to a country dance hall before this semester but I have always wanted to. Convincing my two best friends from Los Angeles and Chicago who barely own cowboy boots and definitely don’t know how to two-step was the hardest part of the evening. Upon finally convincing them we headed out to Dance Across Texas (Formerly Midnight Rodeo). The music was great and everyone was having a lot of fun including my two friends after they finally learned a move or two. I really enjoyed it and love any chance I get to wear my favorite pair of cowboy boots so I will definitely be going again.

611ijlSfoNL._SL500_AA280_A Country Movie Night

So as it would turn out I did a lot of babysitting in high school and one of the little boy’s I babysat favorite movie just happened to be cars. I ended up buying the movie on my laptop because he liked it so much. On one of the nights that everyone in the house went out, my roommate Jenna and I decided to watch a movie. We were looking through the movie on my computer and ended up deciding this was the perfect opportunity for us to watch a Disney movie and no one bother us about it. We popped some popcorn and got in bed. We sang along with every song but especially our two favorites. Jenna knew every word to “Route 66” meanwhile I jammed out to “Life is a Highway”. We had a lot of fun that night. Knowing what I learned from class, the music gave me an all knew appreciation for the movie.

katy-perry-dolly-partonACM Awards

I love watching music award shows but especially country music award shows. This year was even more exiting for me to watch because my mom actually got to go the show. She had a lot of fun but said in the future she thinks she is gonna stay home and watch it on TV because you can see more. Either way the ACM’s this year were super fun to watch with Luke Bryan and Dierks Bently hosting. My favorite performance of the night was watching Dolly Parton and Katy Perry do a duet. It was quite a site to see those two pair up. The performances were definitely the highlight of the show.

Overall this class has taught me so much. I enjoyed not just the material but the people as well. Taking this class has given me a better understanding of not just the themes, the instruments, and melodies that make up country music but country music as whole. I am not a huge fan of writing but I can truly say I have enjoyed every moment of this class and am so fortunate I got to take it.



Filed under Blog Post 5, Reflection

Goin’ Out With a Bang

As my last semester of college comes to a conclusion, I feel like there is no better way to reflect on my year than to talk about the music that got me through it all. Country music has always been a part of my life, but I don’t think I had appreciated it the way I am able to now after taking this course. This course has encouraged me to go outside of my country comfort zone and has brought so many new artists and songs into my life that I am so grateful to know now. A few particular activities that I participated in this year would not have been as enjoyable without my knew appreciation for country music, and I will forever remember how awesome they made the end of my college career.

1. The Italian Johnny Cash

Last semester, while studying abroad in Italy, my friends and I took a weekend trip to Venice. No trip to Venice is complete without an overpriced, classic tour of the river city on a gondola with good wine and great entertainment. The gondola man was quick to notice that we were Americans, but naturally after having a few glasses of wine we sassily corrected him that we were Texans*. A huge smile immediately appeared on the man’s face, and was then followed by the best Italian rendition of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. With the little english I had heard him speak before, I was shocked at how well he could sing every lyric to the classic tune. I was so impressed by his singing, I requested more and more Johnny Cash songs, and to our surprise, he sang (and perfected) every single one of them. This is one of my favorite memories from studying abroad in Europe, because it made me realize how much of a global impact country music has had on everyone, and how music can be enjoyed and shared by so many different cultures. Hearing Johnny Cash in a foreign place gave me the best sense of nostalgia and made me proud to be a fan of country music.

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2. The Grammy Winning Rodeo Performance 

As I try to do every year, I attended the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo this year with a big group of my friends. I’m usually very particular about which performer I like to go see, but since I was invited by a friend, I didn’t even think twice about who we were going to see that night; I was just happy to be able to go! I had heard my friends talking about “Chris”, but sadly I had no idea who that was and I didn’t pay much attention to why he was important. When we got to the arena, we got our hotdogs and beer, sat in our seats and enjoyed the rodeo. After the last bull rider, the audience prepared for the performer, “Chris”. Throughout his concert the crowd was wild; the people around me sang along to every song, I danced around with my friends, and took some fun pictures… but I still had no idea who this guy was. We had a fantastic night, everything about the performance was amazing. A couple of nights later my friends and I were watching the Grammy’s on television, and to my surprise, “Chris” was up there claiming his first award. It finally registered that I had seen Chris Stapleton front row at the rodeo just a few nights before. I felt so dumb but at the same time felt so proud and excited that I got to see the Grammy winner just a couple of nights ago. The night at the rodeo was just a great reminder to me about how humble country music can be; regardless of who the performer was, he put on a fantastic show and gave us all a hell of a night.

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3. Gone But Never Forgotten

The one event I was looking forward to the most for my “country music to-do list” was to see Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson perform in New Braunfels in the middle of April with my dad. Growing up, Merle Haggard had always been my parent’s favorite country singer. As a little girl, we saw him several times at the rodeo, played his albums every Christmas and New Years at the ranch, and impersonated him any chance we could get. I even nicknamed our bearded neighbor “Merle” because I was genuinely convinced that it was him. When I read that Merle and Willie were going on a reunion tour and were coincidentally going to be near Austin on the same night as our Dad’s weekend, I knew I had to get us tickets. Unfortunately, the historic country legend passed away just about a week before the concert. The entire country community was saddened, as he was truly one of the greatest country artists of all times. Even though Willie vowed to still perform the following weekend in honor of his late outlaw partner, we decided not to go because we knew it would not be the same. My dad wanted to keep his favorite memory of younger Merle performing, which I understood. Merle Haggard was a staple of my childhood and will always remind me of my family, which is why country music has become so important to me over the course of this semester.



Filed under Blog Post 5, Classic Country, Cowboy, Dancing, Houston Rodeo, Live Music, Reflection, Texas

A Californian’s Experiences with Country Music

This has been my favorite course this semester by far. Because country music is such a passion of mine, I tend to have many country experiences. After this course, my view of these experiences has changed because I have gained more knowledge about the impactful artists, legendary songs, and history of country music that have shaped my views of the industry.

IMG_7670My first country music experience was going two-stepping and line dancing at The Temecula Stampede in my hometown of Temecula, California. I went home mid semester to celebrate my 21st birthday with friends and family in Temecula before heading to Vegas. This of course meant I HAD to go to the Stampede. Once I turned 18, I became a regular at the Stampede and over the past three years I have formed some of the best friendships from line dancing there. When I went this past time, I evaluated my experience deeper because of this course. I was conducting my Buzzfeed article about line dancing at the time so it gave me the perfect experience to reflect on. With the mechanical bull, people in cow boy hats, and of course the wooden dance floor, The Temecula Stampede provides the perfect setting for a great night of line dancing and two stepping.

IMG_7671After a Thursday night at the Stampede my friends and I left for Vegas to continue the celebration. We timed our Vegas stay perfectly to align with the ACM Party for a Cause Country Music Festival. I attended the festival Sunday with my mom and some family friends. We arrived just in time to see Chase Rice, Sam Hunt, Kip Moore, and Kenny Chesney. I was lucky enough to be standing in the crowd when Kenny Chesney casually walked by me in his white cut off shirt and cowboy hat. Going to this concert reminded me how passionate I am about country music. It actually shaped my future as well. We met a man that was working for AEG Live, the entertainment company that puts on the ACM awards and many other country music festivals, and after talking with us for a while he realized the amount of knowledge and passion I had for country music, which led him to offer me an internship with the company this summer! Working for AEG is a dream of mine and just by attending the ACM Party for a Cause Festival this dream is within my reach. I am so excited to be able to use my knowledge of country music and public relations this summer as an intern for AEG Live!

Lastly, another experience I had with country music was watching the movieScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.48.22 PM “Walk the Line.” I have always heard about the love between Johnny and June but watching this movie gave me a new perspective. Reese Witherspoon is one of my favorite actresses, so seeing her portray June Carter was very commendable. The movie did a great job showing the story between Johnny Cash and June Carter’s relationship while also presenting both of their success in country music. I even got one of my roommates, who is not a country music fan, to watch the movie with me and she loved it!

As previously mentioned, I loved taking this course this semester. It makes me sad that students will not be able to take this course and have these great experiences like I did. As a transfer student from California, I came to Texas with a very different perspective on country music. I have to thank Dusty as well as the other students in this class for helping me gain a new perspective on country music. I will forever love Luke Bryan but this class has helped me to learn to appreciate artists such as Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, June Carter and Randy Travis that have shaped country music into what it is today.

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Filed under Blog Post 5, Reflection


Before taking this class, I admittedly didn’t know that Florida Georgia Line was so horrible. I went to their concert this past summer and actually thought they were good, but after seeing them again at the Houston Rodeo a few weeks ago, I know I was wrong. I was on my way out of town with some friends and we stopped in Houston for the night, and went to the rodeo sort of spur of the moment. We ate corn and funnel cakes, and headed inside to see the show. Florida Georgia Line came out on stage, and immediately I knew something wasn’t right. They were wearing camo tank tops, Tyler Hubbard had his hair straightened, and there were pink lights and flames everywhere. The slideshow on the screens was made up of mostly license plates with the lyrics spelled out across them, and I could hardly watch. They even started the show out by playing “Started From The Bottom” before their first song!! To all of you who I silently disagreed with when you said they were no good, I take it back!

IMG_2229On a happier note, I went to Threadgill’s on Riverside with my dad while he was in town. The second we walked in my dad said, “Can’t you just feel it? People like Ronnie Milsap used to sit at these tables”. From the other customers to the people who were waiting on us, we really could feel the history of the place. My dad ordered chicken fried steak because he “felt like he had to”, and we shared a few appetizers like the fried green tomatoes. If you’re looking for a place to bring someone from out of town and want to show them what Austin is really like, Threadgill’s is the place to go!

When my dad visited earlier in the semester (he went here for undergrad and is having some serious trouble letting go of the glory days), we went two stepping with my sorority at Wild West. Two stepping was a skill I didn’t know I had until I started going to tailgates my freshman year. My parents love to dance and I’ve grown up dancing with my dad around the house and at neighborhood parties, but I had no idea I’d been two stepping all my life, and I really didn’t know I knew how to pretzel! We couldn’t keep up with most of the line dancing, but we held our own spinning around the dance floor between all of the other fathers, daughters, and Wild West regulars.

1911834_774356375961438_3650098447414466280_nMy view of country music has changed more than I ever thought it would after taking this course. I have learned so much about not only the music itself, but the people behind real country music and how to really appreciate the genre as something that truly is a part of how so many people grew up, and has shaped the lives of so many people. Going two stepping and seeing live music at Threadgill’s, along with the rodeo further proving what true country is, has helped me learn to appreciate music that is written from the heart and written about true experiences rather than being written to get a radio hit or collaborating with an R&B artist to land some listeners from other genres–for the record, I at least knew that song by Usher and Florida Georgia Line was bad from the start. Thanks to this class, I promise I’ll know the difference between real and pop country from here on out!

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Filed under Austin Food, Blog Post 5, Concert, Country Pop