One of the things I find that people always seem to be most surprised to learn about me is that I love country music. I don’t know if it’s because I’m Asian-American, I don’t know if it’s because I’m from the East coast, I don’t know if it’s because of my career… whatever the reason people always do a double-take.
No, I may never have lived in, or even be to, a small mid-western rural town with muddy trucks cruising up and down the main street but that doesn’t mean I can’t love the genre. I even own my own cowboy boots and stetson, thank you very much.
My favourite artists include Christian Kane, Thomas Rhett, Billy Currington, Florida Georgia Line, Taylor Swift, Joe Nichols, Luke Bryan, Jake Owen, Josh Thompson, Gary Allan, Easton Corbin, Sugarland, Chris Young, Blake Shelton, Cole Swindell, Carrie Underwood, Brett Eldredge, Zac Brown and, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Kacey Musgraves, Kip Moore… and so on and so forth.
Country music is all about storytelling: there’s a strong focus on narrative voice and many songs are structured as stories with a beginning, middle, and an end. When you listen to country, you’ll meet characters, hear about their conflicts, become invested in the outcome, and then celebrate their triumphs or mourn their failures
One thing that country music has always done well is convey deep emotions through simple, straightforward lyrics. Country singers usually mean exactly what they say, and that honesty makes the music accessible and relatable for anyone who’s ever had a broken heart, wanted to achieve a big dream, or, you know, gotten their truck stuck in a ditch.
Country songs tackle anything and everything: death, abuse, addiction, affairs, politics, war, religion, even murder–the Dixie Chicks have a peppy song about a battered wife poisoning her husband and dumping his body in the lake. And some of my favorite country songs deal with subjects that are harder to define: feeling lost or unsatisfied with life, searching for something bigger and better although you’re not sure what it is. If someone has experienced it, chances are it’s been sung about in a country song.
Some of the greatest protest songs in history have been folk, bluegrass, and country songs. So much about country music–from the honest lyrics to the fact that it was born in the politically and culturally complicated American South–makes it the perfect medium to convey revolutionary ideas. Ever since Woody Guthrie scrawled “This machine kills fascists” on his guitar and sang “This Land Is Your Land” with his defiant Oklahoma twang, country music has provided anthems for countless political causes.