I was listening to one of my favorite songs by country music super-star Tim McGraw (She's My Kind of Rain, a single from 2003) when it happened. I'm sure you're all familiar with the dislike bar on YouTube, and with the tendency for viewers to make a clever comment about the number of dislikes a video has received. This particular video had twelve dislikes, and one of the fans decided to comment on how crazy someone would have to be to dislike such a lovely song. I decided to reply. The conversation went something like this.
Random YouTube Viewer #23,835: "Twelve people must be Obama loving socialists."
Me: I'm an Obama-loving socialist and I love this song. I didn't know those were mutually exclusive."
Random YouTube Viewer #23,835: "Kill yourself."
Now, I know how stupid it is to get into arguments with people on YouTube, and I've only rarely done it, but on this particular occasion, I decided to. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe my brain got tired of being fundamentally non-confrontational and some aggression just oozed out. Maybe I ate some anger-toast that morning for breakfast. Maybe I got sick of people assuming that just because I support Obama I'm required to hate country music and vice versa.
Oh, wait...I think that last one might have accidentally been serious.
I love country music. I don't love all country music, and some of it makes me want to throw the speaker across the room and barf, but I like most of it. I know country has it's own share of problems, like a tendency to glorify drunk driving, frequently objectifying women, a decently large religious connection (not really a problem but not something I particularly relate to either) and a sad, sad lack of artists who write their own material, but at the end of the day I still love it. Part of it is nostalgia. I started listening to country when I was in middle school, and it's given me many excellent memories over the years. Any time I hear the song "Three Wooden Crosses" by Randy Travis, I'm that cute blond seventh grader getting into country for the first time. So, yes. Part of my love for country is certainly nostalgia. That being said, part of it is a true appreciation for the fundamental things that Today's Country almost always gets right.
I'd like to share a few songs that are on the radio right now and make my point in excellent fashion.
Joe Nichols--"Sunny and 75"
Lee Brice--"I Drive Your Truck"
-The Military (army boots, t-shirt, dog-tags, the flag)
-Manliness (in the form of arm-punching and the pressure to be emotionally barren)
The only song I know that surpasses this in terms of stereotypical content is Brad Paisley's "This is Country Music" and he was doing it on purpose. That being said, this song is still a great example of a country song that uses the genre in the right way. Even though it evokes all these stereotypical country music images, it doesn't slap you in the face with them. It uses them effectively to tell the story of a man who lost his brother to the war and uses his old truck as a way to feel close to him. It's an intense message, done (in my opinion) almost perfectly.
Zac Brown Band--"Sweet Annie"
Miranda Lambert--"Mama's Broken Heart"
I guarantee that anyone listening to the four songs I mentioned above will enjoy them, and that's why I appreciate country music so much. At the end of the day, it still holds to the ideal that it started with--to provide accessible, easy to relate to music that everyone (from the Obama-loving social atheists to the bible-thumping Republican gun-slingers) can love. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Random YouTube Viewer #23,835.