By Nathan Douglas–
I feel like I’ve grown up with a curse: I have the uncanny ability to internalize song lyrics after the first listen but only when the song is of the country genre. This unwanted memorization and inability to forget has led to much contemplation of the general meanings of most country songs, and I say most here because I want to exclude country prior to the era of Garth Brooks, i.e. Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, really anyone who still had soul.
The problem with modern country music isn’t that it’s annoying; it’s that it seems to be inspiring a movement, or really the lack of, in a majority of listeners. Never before has alcoholism seemed so accessible and promoted in such a horrible way that it has almost unconsciously found itself in the mainstream.
Many country songs affirm that it’s okay if your life is terrible and you hate working as long as there is a “cold beer” waiting for you at the end of the day. Who needs religion anymore when there’s an entire music genre to stabilize social classes? As long as one has their guns, ability to fish, regardless of what their wife says and a moderately sized truck, who cares about anything else?
In Alan Jackson’s song, presumably about dwarfism, he repeats over and over again that being “little bitty” is ok. Outside of the realm of materialism, this notion of being content without progression in one’s life has the ability to discourage a very capable sector of America’s working class. It seems strange to think that country music, “America’s music,” seems to always contradict the American dream of progression.
Musicians from all realms of the country genre seem to have their own regressive traits in their music. Kenny Chesney promotes drinking yourself to death at the beach while Toby Keith’s desire seems to run over any immigrant or otherwise non-white person with his truck.
Country music not only seems to promote mediocrity and xenophobia, but it also lacks any real substance that the music of yore had. Nowadays, one can expect to hear a song establish itself for the first couple of minutes then build up, cut the music and come back strong with a key change and a reinforced chorus. Wow. Inspiring. Especially since this style of delivery has become a gimmick.
It shouldn’t be hard to recognize how the repeated listening and internalization of these themes, as well as agreeing with them, is destructive, not only to the individual but to the nation as a whole. Music’s ability to change one’s mood also lends itself to the ability to reinforce or establish one’s opinions.
To be honest I really do enjoy country music in that it’s almost always comedic in the best way possible. Something about the backwoods mentality assimilating itself effortlessly into the minds of city folks is endlessly entertaining. If you disagree with this, please don’t go and get your shotgun. I’m going to go uncrinkle my Randy Travis poster.
Photo: Nathan Douglas/The Louisville Cardinal