Coming Out of the Country Music Closet

I realize that living in the country doesn’t mean I have to like country music, but I do.

I don’t even own cowboy boots or a cowboy hat, and I don’t wear Wrangler jeans, but I do listen to country music. It’s not that I’m opposed to cowboy boots and hats – my husband and two older daughters wear them – I just don’t prefer them for myself.

The same is true of my opinion of country music. I do listen to other forms of music from time to time, especially when my oldest daughter has control of the radio dial, but I keep coming back to country. I think I prefer this genre over others because the songs generally tell a story – the words actually make sense and often apply to everyday life. Here are some examples:

• Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink” uses a centenarian (a 100-year-old man) to tell folks how quickly life passes.

• Tim McGraw sings about living life to the fullest in his song, “Live Like You Were Dying.”

• Rodney Atkins details the influence parents have on their children with his song, “Watching You.”

• John Rich gets political with his song about the recession, “Shuttin’ Detroit Down.”

• And in the current most-downloaded country song on iTunes, Taylor Swift tells of a modern-day Romeo and Juliet in “Love Story.”

Not that these are my most favorite songs – they just illustrate my point that country songs often make a point. And as a trained journalist, I can appreciate that – especially if the “point” is positive.

I’m Definitely Not GaGa Over ‘Poker Face’

I traveled thousands of miles in my youth listening to Conway Twitty, Ronnie Milsap and Emmylou Harris, among others, crooning from the 8-track stereo system in the back seat of our family station wagon featuring the classy faux wood side panels.

When I finally discovered my peers listening to Top 40 music in my teens in the 1980s, I quickly conformed. And I swore I would one day be the cool mom who still listened to the “in” music after I had kids. Unfortunately for my kids, that only lasted for me until my oldest started school, and she doesn’t even remember those days.

How is it possible that the Top 40 music of each generation just keeps getting crazier? I’m not saying these artists aren’t talented – and they are definitely creative – but the line between creative and weird is incredibly thin. I speak specifically now of Lady GaGa’s performance of her number-one hit “Poker Face” on last Wednesday’s American Idol results show. For those that missed it, you can view it by clicking here. (I’m sorry, but the originator of this video won’t allow it to be embedded.)

Sports Girl informed me during the Idol performance that she has this song on her iPod, and that Lady GaGa must have just cut her hair – it used to be really long. I try to keep from smiling, or even from laughing, as I ask her at the end of the song if the “eye zipper” is a regular part of her costume? (She says it’s not.)

Compare Lady GaGa’s performance to that of Carrie Underwood and Travis Tritt from two weeks ago. Now, I will admit that the black bow in Carrie’s hair is a little weird, but it’s no worse than the black star rising off Lady GaGa’s left shoulder, and it’s certainly much milder than the eye zipper.

I have long prided myself on my ability to enjoy many genres of music, but frankly, these days I prefer country music to most others.

At 13, Sports Girl has started turning the radio dial to the local Top 40 station when we are in the vehicle, and I handle it pretty well, I think. Better than Horse Lover, who at almost 10 still prefers my country station.

I guess that’s the good news – I’ll only really be considered “uncool” for the last five or so of the 18 years my daughters will live at home. Things could be worse – at least I can’t WATCH Lady GaGa while I’m driving my car – not yet, anyway!