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Abby Wills’ Country Music Experiences

This semester in my Rhetoric of Country Music class I had the opportunity to see country music’s community through country experiences. I took a selfie with the Willie Nelson statue, watched the ACMs, saw the movie Country Strong, and visited Waterloo Records to see classic country records.



Since I started exploring music and learning about songwriters, I’ve been drawn to country music and the stories it tells. However, I learned this semester in Rhetoric of Country Music that there is a lot I don’t know. Usually as you grow up, you only listen to the music that is being produced at that time. So when I walked into class and learned about the country music stars that helped pave the way, I was inspired.

I had never given much thought into what country music sounded like in the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s. I was familiar with what my parents listen to and what I grew up listening to. This project was the perfect opportunity for me to look back on what country music once was and what country music is today.

My “once was” consisted of visiting the Willie Nelson statue and reflecting on how important his role was in country music. He went to Nashville, tested the waters for a bit, and decided to come back to Austin. His journey displays the differences in country music between Nashville and Texas. My “once was” also consisted of going to Waterloo Records and taking a look at the classic country records of Nashville Sound stars and Bob Wills. One thing I noticed was that I didn’t find many current country records. It was nice to be able to focus totally on the singers who helped define country music and make it grow.

My “today” experiences consisted of watching the Academy of Country Music awards and the movie Country Strong. Watching the ACM’s and seeing how they bring so many pop stars to perform duets really caught my attention. Before this class, I did not particularly notice the appearance of pop stars on country award shows. Similarly I had watched Country Strong about two years ago and I enjoyed it, but no specific moments stood out. Watching the movie a second time with this new knowledge of country music put things into perspective. I wonder if the pressure of fame was as big in Bob Wills’ days as it is in the movie.

This project has been an eye opening experience. I’ve recognized that my perspective on country music was limited; I listened to the songs and appreciated the melodies. I now understand the appeal of country music; there is a country music style for everyone. The subgenres make country music versatile and rich. If I had done these country experiences a year earlier, my take away from them would not be as valuable as it is now. I’ve learned so much in this class. When I look at my Storify, I see the history of country music combined with the present of country music. I’m able to compare the two and see what is different and what may be the same. These changes help me anticipate the future of the genre. And that anticipation is only possible because I took this class.


Filed under Austin, Class work, Reflection, Storify