Saturday, July 10, 2004

Country music is the music of America

A friend of mine recently declared for no reason at all that she hated country music (same friend who thought Something's Gotta Give was a good film). I didn't say anything at the time because I didn't have the energy for a knock-down, drag-out fight, but this really got my blood boiling. It's been boiling for about two weeks. Now it's time to express myself on this issue.

I myself have one oldies station, one mix station, two pop/rock stations and two country stations programmed on my car radio. So, it's not as if I listen exclusively to country music. I will certainly crank up the volume for Outkast or Nellie. And, Billy Joel is probably my overall favorite artist. But, I want to declare here and now that it is country music that is the music of America. It captures life as experienced by a huge number of Americans and it proclaims American values. And for this, it should be respected.

Do you identify better with drinking cheap wine out of a Dixie cup or sipping Cristal in the back of stretch Navigator? Are you more familiar with mackin' in a Manhattan night club or fixin' Sunday supper after church? There's no doubt about which life is more familiar to most people. Really, who can't bring to mind a memory of drinking Boone's Farm out of a disposible cup or eating fried chicken with your pastor in the outdoors?

Hip-hop and pop is music for adolescents and 20-somethings who are trying not to grow up. But, country music is for all generations. Sure, country singers sing about falling in love at 17 and partying too hard. But, they also sing about the births of their children and the deaths of their parents. They sing about making love to and growing old with their spouses. They sing often and without embarassment about their love of their country and the Lord. And, it's not unusual to hear the "Star Spangled Banner" played during the course of the day on a country station.

So basically, I would sum it up this way: Hip-hop and pop music are kind of like super-hero movies. They're fun and they're exciting because they let us imagine a life we'll never live. But, country music is like It's a Wonderful Life because we can laugh and cry and learn from it. It will stand the test of time.