Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Great Country

I often wonder out in town what people have playing in their iPods. It could be the same stuff as I have or it could be something wacko. Wacko, yes. I think that would be the word many would choose if they knew that I have been on a 100 % country mode for the last week. Yes, I am confessing it here, in public, with the risk of mockery. It’s been only Tim McGraw, Dixie Chicks, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, George Strait and of course...the man himself...Johnny Cash.

I confess that for a long time I was one of those Europeans who considered the whole music genre a pure joke. Like the American equivalent to Eurovision camp. Men in oversized hats, overtight jeans and women with oversized boobs. This summer’s trip to Texas opened my eyes to the varieties of country and reminded me of a wise statement made once by The Economist: if you wish to understand the United States in a whole (yes, the country continues beyond New York), you need to listen to country. And I must say: if you pick good country music, the beauty is easy to see.

So based on this crash course, what is America about? It is about men falling short, women standing strong, women wishing to kill the violent husband, family members passing away, pretty small towns, family (especially mothers), loving your country, standing up to what you believe in, 4 July, getting drunk, challenging marriages and above all – decent people loving each other.

Country also functions as a good measurement for the mood of the country. The case of Iraq is the obvious. In the beginning the lyrics were about standing up for the troops agains the Evil. But as time has gone by, number of casualties has grown and as this clip by megastar Tim McGraw shows, the tone has changed: it is pain about full bodybags coming back from the Middle East.

Visiting Texas, meeting people and listening to their music made my realise even stronger what great countries are about - real people living real lives. And country is the soundtrack of that documentary.

1 comment:

Aija said...

Yesterday I went to Ani DiFranco's concert here in Brussels. Despite her outspoken political messages - in fact, partly because of them - it was a feelgood thing, happy likemindeds, relaxed and not-too-loud enjoyment of music with thoughts. I'm not sure if her music qualifies as pure folk but at least it's "folkish".

I share with you the experience of not-quite-respecting the genre earlier on but during later years I have learned to like a lot of it. I still don't quite hear the variation in the music itself but I guess a lot of variation can be found in the lyrics. I'm not really the rock-type - in Finland I like the "softer" Suomipop kind of music best - so maybe it's no surprise that folk thingies actually sound nice and easy to me.

Summa summarum: Nothing to be ashamed of. ;-)