Saturday, June 23, 2007

On My Playlist

Ok. I lied. I am saving Where Everybody Knows Your Name - Part II (a.k.a. Tales of a Trivia Geek) for a later post and instead taking some time to come to terms with a cold, hard fact.

I like country music. And no - I am not hopping on some bandwagon because all of a sudden Jon Bon Jovi has announced that he loves country music and therefore I think that it is now cool (assuming you believe that Jon Bon Jovi constitutes cool) to listen to songs with innumerable references to tractors, rednecks, fast food, mama, livestock, trucks, the bible/Jesus, getting drunk and occasional use of the words yeehaw and honky tonk.

It started innocently enough with the downloading of Carrie Underwood's CD. Blame it on a fluke chance that while driving to the beach we were scanning for radio stations near Columbia, SC and happened upon a country station, stayed there, I heard the song Before He Cheats, it stuck in my head, and I was hooked.

It only took 2, maybe 3, full listen throughs to know the entire CD by heart. That's the thing about country music - it's so...catchy. Whether it's the musical hook or the simple, usually story-like lyrics - I have found as I have ventured further and further down this path, that I might hear a song only once and it will get so stuck in my head that I am forced to come home, search for the song online (usually by lyrics) and then download it.

Besides my flirtation with Carrie Underwood, we got a demo CD from Marty's cousin who had recently recorded some country music in Nashville. Marty and I both liked several of the tracks and so I began to listen to current country radio to see if the songs were marketable. The good news is, they are. Very much so.

But throughout this entire process I have now become utterly hooked on contemporary country music. Here's some of what's on my play list and some views on country music in general:

Current Obsession

Moments by Emerson Drive is my current obsession. I think it has the best melodic hook of any song and I love the story the lyics tell. After listening to the song compulsively on my iPod (let's repeat just 1 more time...) I went online to see if I would like any of their other songs. It's a bit hard to determine when all you get on iTunes is a 30-second sample but after listening to some snippets I downloaded When a Boy Becomes a Man. It's good, but it's not yet an obsession.

Best Food Reference

This is a toss up between Rodney Atkins' Watching You and Billy Currington's Good Directions. Rodney manages to work in an entire Happy Meal - nuggets, fries and orange drink - while Billy references pork rinds, turnip greens, and sweet tea. Rodney gets extra credit for ingenius use of the word Buckaroo (which I love and Marty absolutely hates) while Billy sets his scene on the back of a flatbed truck. In the end, I've got to give it to Billy, if only for the last line of the song: Thank God for good directions...and turnip greens!

Trace vs. Tracy

Trace Adkins and Tracy Lawrence are 2 completely separate people. They are both men. And they are both in heavy rotation on Charlotte's county radio station, Kat Kountry 96.9 fm. I had to download Trace's Ladies Love Country Boys (all about a city girl falling in love with a wild-eyed country boy sporting a farmer's tan) but passed on Tracy's (apparently) first #1 hit in 11 years - You Find Out Who Your Friends Are - if only because it's on the radio hourly.

Finding Some Religion

I thought I had my religion fix with Carrie Underwood's Jesus Take The Wheel but then I heard 3 Wooden Crosses. I didn't think much of it, didn't care who sang it - I just wondered why the song was on the radio since it felt a little...inaccessbile. Then it came on again a few weeks later and I actually listened to the lyrics. Oh my God! It was genius. I thought it was such a wonderful tale. It didn't make me want to convert or anything - but I did download the song (by Randy Travis incidentally).

Who Knew

Well, I had no idea I liked her when I saw her play, but I've recently become a fan of Taylor Swift. Teardrops on My Guitar sucked me right in after I heard it on the radio the other night. It got stuck in my head and wouldn't go away until I downloaded it. I couldn't bring myself to download the entire album (even though I heard her sing most of it) but I did also download her hit Tim McGraw because I figured it was inevitable that I would hear it on the radio eventually and it would get stuck in my head too.

Sometimes You Get it Right, Sometimes You Don't

I love Brad Paisley's She's Everything. I imagine it's an ode to his wife, Kimberly Williams, and I picture her doing all the things he's singing about (wearing yellow running shoes, faded jeans and cheap sunglasses; driving in a Saturn with the sunroof down and her hair blowing around her face; taking a bubble bath; getting tipsy after a glass of wine). What I don't love is his new song Ticks. Frankly, with lyrics like "You press that bottle to your lips, I wish I was your beer," "Don't worry babe I've got your back, I've also got your front," and the punchline "I'd like to check you for ticks," it creeps me out.

The Missing Links

The bulk of what's on the radio seems to be dominated by 5 musicians: Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson and Keith Urban. As I searched for the songs I was hearing I found an inordinate number of them could be attributed to these 5. Then, yesterday, while I was monitoring the Kat Kountry Last 10 Songs Playlist (in an attempt to track down a rogue song whose lyrics I barely knew and therefore could not Google and which turned out to be Cole Deggs' I Got More which I can tell you will join Emerson Drive in the obsession category very shortly) I noticed that 1 of every 4 or 5 songs was one of these men. If you consider the fact that both Tim and Kenny contribute to Tracy Lawrence's current hit, and it feels even more often than that.

I'll confess I've downloaded a few. The first was a few weeks ago and was Alan Jackson's Remember When. I only heard it once, I don't think it's a new song, but, as with evrything else, it had a catchy tune and got stuck in my head. Kenny Chesney's You Save Me also struck a chord. I have yet to download any Tim or Keith (although I like Tonight I'm Gonna Cry) but I have downloaded some Toby. I am a fan of I Love This Bar and...ok - hold your breath, sit down, whatever you have to do to keep steady...American Soldier. Ok. It's so cheesy I know. In fact, as I write this, I feel like I have to delete it from my playlist. Maybe I've been in NC too long. Or married to a Republican.

The Masters

Although I am sure Alan Jackson would prefer to be known as a master and not a missing link, the masters for me are Garth and George. Period. You can always pick out a Garth tune and George is getting plenty of play these days because of his new album - although they play the old stuff too - including Carried Away which is our wedding song and which you never hear anywhere but which I've heard on the radio twice recently. I'll also give some credit to Faith and while I passed on Mississippi Girl, I did download Lost which I haven't even heard on the radio but someone on iTunes gave it a good review.

Overplayed Idols

I didn't like them on the show that much and frankly, I am not sure how I feel about them now. Bucky Covington's Different World is clever. I like the message and think he's not terrible but it sort of bothers me that he's become this famous. As for Kellie Pickler, I have some serious issues with her stylist (did anyone see her when she sang on Idol this season? She looked like a transvestite impersonating Dolly), but I think I Wonder is sweet in its story (she never knew her mama) and I tell you, that melody does get stuck in your head.

The Best of the Rest

I had to download something by Sugarland. How could I not? They are nearly a missing link - although not quite. I opted for Want To and am considering Settlin' although frankly, I hear them so often on the radio, I am not sure I need to. Lucky Man by Montgomery Gentry is another current fave. How could you not love a song with the lyrics "my ticker's tickin' like they it should?" Starting With Me by Jake Owen also made the list. As did 2 Craig Morgan (who?) songs: Tough - which is such a wonderful ode to women everywhere, and A Little Bit of Life. The first verse goes like this:

A little bit of guitar
A little bit of truck
A little bit of hound dog
And a little bit of luck
A little bit of Bacon
A little bit of beans
A little bit of you lovin’ up on me
And a little bit of how it supposed to be
A little bit of life

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


Anonymous said...


I'm certainly glad you don't like 'Ticks'... that song is terrible.

In my opinion, what's wrong in country music today is best summed up by your list of Missing Links.