In life, there are very few constants- things, ideas, and people that stick with you through every experience, be it positive or negative. Country music has been one of the constants in my world since I was three months old, serving as the permanent soundtrack to every phase of my twenty-year existence. Deep in the recesses of our family basement, there is an old videotape of my two-year-old self, posing in front of the camera with a toy microphone in hand and singing with LeAnn Rimes’, “The Light in Your Eyes”. Five years later, Shania Twain’s “God Bless the Child” was the song that carried me through my first audition. My freshmen year of high school, “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts was the tune that guided me through the first of many awkward slow dances. And when I endured a seemingly devastating break-up at seventeen, it was Brad Paisley’s “Letter to Me” that soldiered me through, calming me with its soothing melody and appeasing me like a parent in its lyrically patient way.
The genre has evolved drastically as years and generations have passed; many hardcore country fans argue that their beloved music has headed down an unnatural path of mainstream sameness, replacing the steel guitar with an electric make, and the fiddle with orchestras of violins. I used to count myself as one of those critics, albeit hypocritical, because even though I complain that Taylor Swift is “too pop”, I secretly find solace in her engaging lyrics in my most desperate of moments. And although I admonish Jason Aldean for straying from his original farm-based, tractor roots and adopting a more rock-n-roll, party sound, I still find myself bobbing my head along to his latest good-time-bottle-raising anthem. So now, instead of criticizing, I choose, instead, to listen, absorb, and understand. While country may not sound like it did twenty, or even ten, years ago, its essence is still the same. It is a place where listeners can find comfort in the artists who sing relatable tales about challenges that hinder and promote the journey. It is a guide for the single man from Georgia trying to make a break in the music business. It is a home for the family of five who struggle day in and day out to make ends meet. It is love for the elderly couple in the nursing home, silently dancing to the old country sound straining through the radio. And for me, it is a friend for someone who had a difficult time creating relationships at a young age and instead turned to music for companionship. Regardless of the increase in heavy drum beats and the decrease in subtle banjo, country music has remained true to its goal: to tell a story.
So through this blog, my goal is to convey my love for a world that has opened its arms up for me without knowing any detail of my character. I’ll share my thoughts about events that transpire throughout the year, review songs and albums, and make my predictions about various award shows and artists. Maybe you’ll agree with me. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you love country music. Maybe you don’t. But regardless, country music has a place for everyone. And maybe through this blog, you’ll find that place, too.