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Posts Tagged ‘music’

The Problem With Country

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2016 at 7:59 pm

The past week I had the family dog, Quincy, with me in Charleston. He needed a little vacation from his puppy sister. She has so much energy and personality that I feel especially confident Quincy could be elevated to sainthood for only occasionally placing a well-placed paw on Sophie’s back to push her away from him. I dropped him back home on Sunday and drove back to Charleston on Monday. The Sunday drive was lovely. Bright, sunny, clear, with drivers confidently speeding down the highway in all lanes. Monday, however, was less enjoyable. 45 minutes into my journey the skies opened and poured down rain for 5 and a half hours of my journey. The stress of passing serious car wrecks caused by the weather and every lane clogged with people driving no more than 58 miles an hour made me irritable and not very excited to arrive back in the Charleston heat, sans Quincy. When I am stuck, like how I felt driving solo down a wet, gray highway, I turn to the one thing that pushes me through–country music from the 1990s and early 2000s.

20 year old country music? Really? If that’s what you first thought, you have likely been affected by the results of country music today on us. I’ll get to that in a minute. Right now, let me explain to you why old country music is the best country music.

The likelihood is very strong that the very first song to ever reach my ears was probably a country song, played on the radio of my parents’ black Nissan Maxima as they drove me home from the hospital in a snowstorm four days after my birth. Though my mother usually has controls over the radio, regardless of who is driving, I’m guessing my father already had the radio tuned into a country music station when they turned on the car. My mother, whose family has Mississippi roots extending before the Civil War, is no fan of the genre. She makes fun of the Rascal Flatts and their drippy emotional songs and Shania Twain’s energetic yelps in her songs that, according to my mom, sounds like a seal, with her usual amount of vigor when criticizing something that displeases her. My father, on the other hand, has listened to country at least as long as I can remember. His family hails from the northeast so I can’t say it was his environment growing up in the 60s and 70s involved any country singers on the radio. It remains a mystery to me why country is his favorite genre. As with pretty much anything else he explains, his reasons are vague and confusing enough that I can’t even recall them.

As soon as I put on Google Play’s “90s Gone Country” playlist, the warm, easy melody of Brooks & Dunn’s “My Maria” played through my car’s speakers. This is promising! I told myself. My favorite country song of my childhood. I don’t know if anyone can relate to this, but as a kid I didn’t know or care about song lyrics. It was the melodies of the guitars and violins, the harmonies of the singing voices, and the tempos of the songs that appealed to me. Put on any 80s song and ask me to sing along, I won’t get any of the lyrics right, but I will get the title and the name of the artist (“There’s a bad moose on the right” is a great one–such a classic!).

I still remember my British friend telling me the first country song she ever heard. Before she even mentioned the artist, I said “OH NO, DON’T tell me it was–” “WHISKEY LULLABY” we said simultaneously. Obviously, she never wanted to hear another country song as long as she lived. I don’t blame her! It’s beautiful, but that’s a good one to ease into once you’ve heard the happy songs by Tim McGraw and Trace Adkins. You made her cry, Brad Paisley!

Anyway, here’s a list of my favorite country songs. You really can’t expect me to limit this list to one Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, or George Strait song, so they’ve got several listed here.

Trisha Yearwood–She’s in Love with the Boy

Alabama–I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)

John Anderson–Seminole Wind

John Michael Montgomery–Sold

Alan Jackson–Drive

Patty Loveless–I’m That Kind of Girl

Hal Ketchum–Small Town Saturday Night

Diamond Rio–Meet Me in the Middle

Tim McGraw–Something Like That

Mary Chapin Carpenter–Passionate Kisses

Kenny Chesney–How Forever Feels

Lonestar–Amazed

Garth Brooks–The Thunder Rolls

Tim McGraw–Down on the Farm

Faith Hill–This Kiss

Martina McBride–Wild Angels

Travis Tritt–It’s a Great Day to Be Alive

Brooks & Dunn–My Maria

 

Joe Nichols–Brokenheartsville

Garth Brooks–Friends in Low Places

Trisha Yearwood–XXX’s and OOO’s

Toby Keith–Should’ve Been a Cowboy

Tim McGraw–Just to See You Smile

Dwight Yoakam–Fast As You

Brooks & Dunn–Play Something Country

Jo Dee Messina–Heads Carolina, Tails California

Brad Paisley–We Danced

Tim McGraw–I like It, I Love It

George Strait–Check Yes or No

Sammy Kershaw–She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful

Garth Brooks–That Summer

Lonestar–Front Porch Looking In

Tim McGraw–Where the Green Grass Grows

Alan Jackson–Gone Country

Dixie Chicks–Wide Open Spaces

Shania Twain–Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?

 

I have such distinct memories for these songs. Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)” resurrects an image of my father mowing the bottom of the front lawn on a a summer day, his usual Saturday afternoon routine. Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That” played on the speakers in our family room every weekend–it was a sign that my family would take things easy, of t-ball and soccer games I’d watch my brother play, and a break from school.

I still don’t know the lyrics to Diamond Rio’s “Meet Me in the Middle.” I just liked the beat. It was fun, happy, and it sounded good when played in the car. People getting along! Yay!

A major problem with country music today (and music in general) is that the image of the artist is more important than their voice. That’s disappointing.

toby keith

Oh gosh. This wouldn’t fly today. But it didn’t matter then, because his songs were really great.

I look at the pictures of people I went to school with who went to college at very southern schools. They shed our school uniforms for another, less creative, more socially acceptable one. Country culture today requires girls wearing cut off jean shorts with fake cowboy boots because real ones are way too expensive and functional to dance in beer-soaked mud at frat parties and country music festivals at their schools. They curl their hair out to here and wear plaid, like plaid is really the only uniform of “country people.” The guys basically wear t-shirts and jeans with boots too, and a baseball cap turned backwards. Everyone looks the same. The. Same. I turned away from country music around 2004, when my best friend who previously made fun of the genre incessantly, preferring hip-hop and “Now 10,005” albums, enthusiastically began listening to our local country stations. She and all of her friends agreed it was great music to listen to at parties and sleepovers. That was when I knew country had migrated into the music that appealed to teenage girls because everyone else listened to it. So I stopped. Sugarland gave me headaches anyway.

Country music today lacks sophistication, cleverness, truth, relatableness, and nostalgia. Instead it encompassed everything I didn’t experience, agree with, believe in, or understand. Yeah, I can get that feeling of complete love and pride when I hear Lonestar’s “My Front Porch Looking In,” even though I’m not a father and I don’t have a red-headed child (or a house I own). No, I don’t want anything memorable to have started with a beer, thanks though, Frankie Ballard. I also don’t think it’s cool to key my ex’s car. And No! I don’t have long tanned legs and I don’t want to be a song to somebody! Don’t roll your windows down and cruise because of me! What does that even mean? It’s not relatable! Like 2% of the population may have popped out of the Georgia water with a bikini on and made a guy roll down his window. Ugh. I’d rather have wished somebody would have sent me a love note in elementary school with the directions “check yes or no” and not have it happened (lol, boys didn’t know who I was in third grade), than wishing to lie “nekked” in a bed with Luke Bryan (him saying that line gives me shivers, and not in a good way). And you know, my extreme un-impulsive nature growing up didn’t keep me from finding “Heads California, Tails Carolina” a thrilling idea (to maybe try in the far off future). I LIVED for the day when “She’s in Love with the Boy” would be applicable in my own life. Still hasn’t happened, but at least it was something I could think might happen! Country songs today don’t do that. My friends who have sworn off country feel that way because the songs they’ve heard are the songs today. It’s just a disappointment.

If you’re still unconvinced, listen to county artists active from the 1990s to now–I’d suggest Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley.

Maybe I’ve just grown old. Maybe the songs today don’t resonate with me because I didn’t hear them for the first time as a kid, who, for all intents and purposes, was still a relatively blank slate. Regardless, I’ll keep listening to the old country songs that resurrect some of the best days of my life.

 

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Coldplay: Glowing in the Dark

In A History on July 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm

our wristbands glowing in the dark!

Monday night I attended a Coldplay concert with a friend. It was my second time seeing them. The first was back in 2009 when I was still in high school. The first time, it was raining and we were on the lawn. That didn’t smash the fact that it was the best night of my life to date. This time was fantastic as well.

Coldplay is my favorite band EVER. Even when I find a new band and I constantly listen to their songs on repeat,  NOTHING can compare to Coldplay. NOTHING can be better than Coldplay.

I apologize for the low quality of these photos…my camera isn’t working as it used to.

Why do I feel that way?

I talked to people who attended Coldplay concerts, and all of them– without fail– said a Coldplay concert was the best concert they had ever attended. And I agree.

Why are Coldplay concerts so amazing? (and yes, this will be from the viewpoint of a truly loving and obsessive fan)

1) they are really impressive concerts. Chris Martin (the lead singer, for those sad, sad people who don’t know the names of Coldplay members) had an amazing amount of never ending energy. He jumps around, he runs around, he falls down on the ground multiple times, he waves his arms when not at the piano, and he even moves when he plays the piano.  

2) they sound the exact same live and on recordings. The first time I heard them live I was blown away. I couldn’t believe how real it sounded. It was like I had put my iPod on massive speakers and was blasting it across the amphitheater.

3) they include the audience. The first concert, Chris asked about the people way in the back (where we were) and the people on the right and left. He made up a song on the spot about our city, which of course made the crowd go wild. He sang our state’s song. He came out on the lawn for THIRTY MINUTES and sang TEN FEET AWAY FROM ME. Literally. I could see the sweat on his face, and the muscles in his neck. BREATHTAKING. This concert he did a similar thing, but it was still different. He asked how we were doing on the left, and the right, and up in the nosebleed sections (it was a closed amphitheater), and the lucky people on the floor (really, how ELSE could they be doing except feeling awesome?). He said multiple times how he loved coming back to our city and how much they appreciate our support. I don’t know if he says that in every city, but it still made us feel special (and I somehow don’t think that a writer of those lyrics would copy something like that). And, lastly, they include the audience by playing off the stage. THEY CAME AND PLAYED IN MY SECTION LAST NIGHT!! I can hardly believe that I would be fortunate enough to be that close to them twice. It’s something I will never forget, and I feel so privileged to have experienced that.

acoustic version of The Scientist. Tear jerker.

4) Chris Martin sometimes plays the acoustic version of his songs. Last night he played The Scientist and part of Warning Sign acoustically. In 2009 he played The

Hardest Part acoustically. He plays beautifully, andseeing the songs performed a different way is very special to watch. To me, it looked like there was so much more feeling in the acoustic performance. I appreciate that. People listen to music to feel something, whether that comes from the lyrics, the melody, or the instrumentals.

so close to me!!

5) Coldplay’s lyrics really affect the die-hard fan, and every song features a special lyric or too. Seeing them performed live, with such passion, energy, and happiness is an unforgettable and unique experience.

Personally, I’ve been a Coldplay fan for many, many years. I can’t remember exactly when, but it was most likely 5th or 6th grade that I discovered them, and I liked them from the beginning. To date, The Hardest Part is my favorite song (but really, I love all of them). It’s currently my ring tone. Fix You will always be a cherished song.

“When you try your best but you don’t succeed, when you get what you want but not what you need, when you feel so tired but you can’t sleep…stuck in reverse.” That seems like the catchphrase of my life. And I’ve heard people say “Ignite your bones” is a stupid phrase, but I personally love it. I think it’s a lovely sentiment, even if it doesn’t make complete sense. It’s the same with Yellow. It made the top 10 worst lyrics a few years ago, but the song is so beautiful, and sometimes lyrics don’t need to make perfect sense. The way Coldplay plays it and the way its sung makes it a stunning piece of music, regardless if “it was all yellow” is stupid (which it’s not! Hmph).

The complexity of a lyric is what makes an artist accomplished. This is only my opinion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many Coldplay listeners agreed with me. Hurts Like Heaven, Don’t Let it Break Your Heart, Sparks, and Glass of Water, just to name a few, have wonderful lyrics full of imagery, metaphor, and beauty.

Have you ever listened to Proof and A Message? The lyrics. If I was an emotional person, I don’t doubt I would cry every time I played them. “And I’m covered it’s true. I’m covered in you… In you I find proof.” And the repetition of “light” and “dark” is full of imagery, and is facilitated by the rising and dropping in Chris’ voice. I mean, please. He must have been a heart-breaker back in the day (I personally don’t look at their bios because I only want their music to affect my opinion of them). A Message has personally helped me out when I was feeling upset, or lonely, or simply frustrated with life (we’ve all experienced this, right?) It’s a really beautiful song, and I encourage all of you who haven’t heard it to go listen to it, and focus on the lyrics. And if you have heard it, you should go take another look at it.

Okay, well I’m done ranting now about my most absolute favorite band in the whole entire world. I just wanted to share with you why I love them so much, and why you all should give them a chance. And if you’re in town when they’re preforming, GO SEE THEM!!

Basically, I just wanted to write this post to share my love of Coldplay. Even though I’d love to keep them for myself, I know I can’t do that! I believe Coldplay is unique in so many ways, and they are more special (to me) than any pop singer, rapper, or other alt/indie artists.

What about you guys? Do you have a band you’ve loved  since childhood? Do you have a band you’d give your left arm to see in concert? Both arms? ; )

Word of the Day: Paroxysm– any sudden, violent outburst; a fit of violent action or emotion. (Source: Dictionary.com)

P.S. I realize I posted that my next post would be about Jamie Fraser and Outlander, but I had to post this first because the concert happened so recently. I’ll get to it, I promise!