UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT: I love country music.
I love it from the classics to the recent hits. I love it from sunup to sundown. I love it from summer to fall. I love that anytime I listen to country music, I get a story. Ranging from first loves to nights at the bar to heartbreak, country music has it all.
The first concert I ever went to featured Toby Keith as the headliner when I was about ten years old. The first CD I ever bought was Rascal Flatt’s “Melt.” I live for a good guitar twang and raspy song about a man treating me wrong.
On Sunday, October 1, 2017, 58 peoples lives ended and countless other lives were changed in what is now the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. In light of the Las Vegas shooting, I want to dedicate this Music Monday to the songs that made me fall in love with country music as a kid.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by the violence of this incident.
1. “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain
Standout Lyric: The best thing about being a woman / Is the prerogative to have a little fun
As a little girl, Shania Twain was my idol. I remember blasting this tune on my Karaoke machine on Christmas morning (the end of my singing career) and making up dance moves to all of her greatest hits with my neighbor. This song is fun, empowering, and loud in all the right ways. It reminds me that despite the cramps and dealing with f*ckboys, being a woman is kind of awesome.
2. “She’s in Love With the Boy” by Trisha Yearwood
Standout Lyric: She’s in love with the boy / What’s meant to be will always find a way
Country love songs will always hold a special place in my heart. In a way, I feel like they taught me about love before I even knew what love was about. Trisha Yearwood’s song was one of the first love songs I remember really connecting with as a kid. It’s all about how true love can’t be stopped and how it always has a way of working out in the end.
3. “Austin” by Blake Shelton
Standout Lyric: If you’re callin’ ’bout my heart / It’s still yours / I should’ve listened to it a little more / Then it wouldn’t have taken me so long to know where I belong
“I Hold On.” It’s not just an amazing song by Dierks Bentley, but it’s also a big part of my personality. I have an extremely hard time letting go of things — favorite clothing items, memories, relationships. Shelton’s song, “Austin,” was the first song I heard that told me it was okay to hold on to love if you feel it is real.
4. “Wide Open Spaces” by The Dixie Chicks
Standout Lyric: Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about / Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out
Just like Avril Lavigne was a must-have on any one of my playlists from middle school, The Dixie Chicks were a requirement for what built the base of my relationship with country music. I still remember blaring “Goodbye Earl” at a New Years Eve party with my best friend from childhood, but “Wide Open Spaces” has a bit more meaning. Even now, as a fresh graduate finding her place in this world, I connect with this song all about finding your own path and needing space to grow into yourself.
5. “Fancy” by Reba McEntire
Standout Lyric: Lord, forgive me for what I do, / But if you want out, well, it’s up to you / Now don’t let me down
Something that draws me to country music is its ability to tell stories. I haven’t found that unique ability in any other music genre. “Fancy” isn’t the bedtime story I would be telling my children (it’s about a girl whose mom makes her become a prostitute to take care of the family), but it’s a powerful story about working for what you want — a theme I find prevalent in a lot of country music.
6. “How Do You Like Me Now” by Toby Keith
Standout Lyric: I couldnt make you love me / But I always dreamed about living in your radio
Another “Greatest Hits” from my Karaoke days, Toby Keith was a staple in my childhood. I think I saw him two times in concert? And, while he’s a bit rough around the edges, some of his songs make great points about friendship, love, and making a name for yourself.
7. “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack
Standout Lyric: I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance, / Never settle for the path of least resistance
If you tell me you didn’t hear this song at any of your graduations (elementary, middle, or high school), your school didn’t do graduation right. Despite being a cliche grad song, Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” is inspiring and reminds you to say “yes” to opportunities.
8. “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw
Standout Lyric: Like tomorrow was a gift and you’ve got eternity / To think about what you do with it,
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are the ultimate power couple — and they always will be. McGraw has a ton of great hits, but “Live Like You Were Dying” is another that impresses upon listeners that they should take chances and go on adventures every chance they get.
9. “The Good Stuff” by Kenny Chesney
Standout Lyric: ‘Cause it’s the first long kiss on a second date. / Momma’s all worried when you get home late.
Another song that is all about the story, Chesney’s “The Good Stuff” is “the good stuff” when it comes to country music. He’s been around forever and he’s still putting out amazing hits. The man knows how to make it every word out of his mouth count.
10. “Why” by Jason Aldean
Standout Lyric: I know I’d never let you walk away / So why do I push you ’til you break
Aldean was performing when the gunman struck in Las Vegas, so I think it’s fitting that he is honored in this post as well. One of his hit singles from his first album, “Why” says what everyone else is thinking when it comes to toxic relationships. Sometimes you can feel like you’re alone in your experiences, but songs like Aldean’s reminds you that there is someone out there who understands what you are going through.
Current Obsession: “Body Like a Back Road” by Sam Hunt
Standout Lyric: On a highway to heaven, headed south of her smile / Get there when we get there, every inch is a mile
Sam Hunt is beautiful and his music is beautiful. That’s really all I have to say.
I didn’t get to include every amazing artist that has contributed to this genre over the years, but I tried to mention the ones that made me fall in love with country music in the first place. Sometimes it’s a bit crass and doesn’t have all the meaning in the world, but the true his tell stories and speak truths that will always find a way to my heart.
I hope that our country can find peace soon after this horrible tragedy.