Most people assume that being the youngest child of a family is synonymous with being a spoiled brat, but I think otherwise. Has anyone ever thought that maybe a child is a spoiled brat because their parents allow that? I, for one, am the youngest of four children and work for everything in life. For me, this is easily relatable to classic country music. Many songs like Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” express hardworking woman, without discriminating against age or what number child you are.
Sure, there will be spoiled brats that just so happen to be the youngest child, but that goes for all stereotypes.
There’s more to being the youngest than just getting people to see you for you. Some of the biggest issues of being the youngest child are “How will I get people to stop stereotyping me?” or “Will I ever be able to break out of the shadows of my older siblings?”
Frankly, I can’t help if my parents look at me as their “baby” because I am. I’ll admit that, but it doesn’t mean I had any control over the matter. As soon as people hear I’m the youngest of four kids, they automatically begin to assume I’m either a trouble maker (which in fact is my sister-number 3) or I get what I want. While “The Baby” by Blake Shelton tunes into the youngest child stereotype, it also does a great job of describing how my mother sees me.
The same concept could go for people who are only children or the middle child. No matter where you are in the pecking order, it seems like you have a stereotype. Truth be told, I did tattle when I was younger, but as far as I’m concerned everyone has at some point or another. It even seems like youngest children get the most grief from their older siblings when they get older about their past. However, I’ve always found comfort in country music growing up. No matter how much my siblings and I fought, when we turned on Garth Brooks or the Dixie Chicks, we put all matters aside.
Despite what others may think, I know many youngest children who actually end up baring the most responsibility of any of their siblings. Getting a job and paying for my own things came naturally to me, but when I’d treat myself to things, I still would get stereotypical thoughts that my parents paid for it. If there is one thing that country music has taught me, and that I’ve been able to relate to my situation, is that hard work won’t always go unnoticed. If I keep fighting against these stereotypes, people may see me for me, not as the youngest child.
This semester, as a part of the Country Music Project, I had the chance to engage in the country music community in a whole new light. I learned all about Willie Nelson, became abolsutely hooked on the show “Nashville,” watched the ACM’s, and read the Texas Music Magazine. Through these activities, I was able to connect with country music more than I ever thought I could, and learned a new appreciation for the music genre’s history and very promising future.
This semester, as a part of the Country Music Project, I had the chance to engage in the country music community in a whole new light. I learned all about Willie Nelson, became abolsutely hooked on the show “Nashville,” watched the ACM’s, and read the Texas Music Magazine.
This spring, I really immersed myself in country music. It has been something I have always dabbled in, but never fully immersed myself in before. Taking this class was a huge step for me to begin with. I did not know much about country music and its rich history, but I quickly found out how much I would come to learn and then fall in love with it. I started out hesitant, by bringing my parents to visit Willie in statue form in downtown Austin. He piqued my curiosity about Nashville, which made me look at the hit show in a whole new way. I could relate to how business-y the city is, and how different that is from Austin. I realized the creativity and freedom that Austin holds and how in Nashville the musical freedom does not always come so easily. I saw the way country music stars such as Tim McGraw were portrayed at the Oscars versus how country music stars were at the American Country Music Awards. And lastly, I read the Texas Music Magazine which provided me with a new group, Whisky Myers, that I happen to really like.
While doing all of these things, I became proud of myself for diving in to something that I haven’t always been the comfortable and familiar with. My pride quickly turned to hunger as I strove understand why country music is the way it is today. The broad category of country music and all of the subgenres that fit within this title can be confusing sometimes, but by taking the knowledge I had learned and applying it to real experiences made the knowledge more tangible. The subgenres project taught me the most about country music, and because of that I feel like I understand the genre so much better. Because I was able to apply my knowledge, I could understand the differences and similarities between Austin and Nashville. I could see how Nashville turned Willie to come to Austin. I could appreciate the way the artists were celebrated and revered for their creativity at the awards show. And I could open myself up to a new band, and be surprised at how much I like one of their songs, which quickly turned into exploring more of their music. When I look at my Storify, I see my semester in country music. But what stands out the most is how artist-oriented my semester has been. I came in knowing a couple of Dixie Chicks songs and a little bit of Kenny Chesney (thanks to my parents’ tastes), but am leaving the semester with a wealth of new artists to listen to.
I’ve written songs on and off from a pretty young age. Or I should say I’ve partially written songs. I almost never finish them, because halfway through or so I become hypercritical and decide I hate everything. There will usually be one part of the song that feels right, that actually says what I want to say and how I want to say it, while the rest doesn’t seem to measure up. When I do finish a song, that’s sort of the end of the road. I almost never share what I’ve written with anyone else.
For these reasons I was immediately hesitant when our final project was assigned that included the option to write an original song. I knew I could compile a playlist easily enough, but for me that felt like taking the easy way out. I’m pretty fond of expressing my opinion, and writing a song about a current social issue seemed like a great way to do that. If I could get it done. I was suddenly determined to finish a damn song, one I knew other people would get to see.
And so it began. The complete and total lack of any creative inspiration. I had no idea where to start, or even what I wanted my topic to be! Luckily, I remembered that on my phone I’d kept a few recordings of lines to songs that had popped into my head, but never been developed beyond that. I decided to listen back through them and see if anything sparked. There very first one I listened to was the lines, “Danger, Danger/I look it in the eye/ sometimes I get to wonderin’ why I’m not afraid to die.” I had forgotten all about them, but suddenly I could clearly see the direction I wanted to go.
Those lines became the basis for my chorus, which I was able to finish not long after. Then once again I was stumped. By now I knew that I wanted to tackle the issue of alcoholism, but I still wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to address it from. After thinking about it for probably too long, I decided I wanted the song to be written from the female perspective of someone who acknowledges she has a problem, if only vaguely, but at this point doesn’t believe she can change. While I didn’t want the song to be a cry into your Ben & Jerry’s type, I still wanted to convey some sense of sadness behind the wildness of the narrator’s life. I wanted to show that even though she tries to make it seem like she wouldn’t want things any other way, it’s more that she’s resigned herself to the pain.
Once that decision was made the song flowed pretty easily. Faster than any song I’ve written before. Even so, once it was done I still questioned/am questioning every line. The thought of other people reading what I have written, something that I care about, well it’s kind of terrifying. It’s a very vulnerable position to be in having others be able to judge something that comes from a personal place. I have such respect for the artists who do it all the time. Ultimately, I think it’s that vulnerability that can make music so unifying and beautiful.