Sunday, January 10, 2016

I'm a little bit country.

I like to think of our family as equal-opportunity listeners.

Not to each other, obviously, which blog do you think you’re reading? Focus, people.

I’m talking about music. The traveling husband has pretty eclectic taste – he ranges from AC/DC to Snoop, with a bunch of everything else in between. Basically, if it was recorded by a human with talent, chances are it gets some air time in our house.

Depending on my mood, I like most all of it, too. Soul, R&B, rock, classical…all good. And dance music from any decade gets an enthusiastic yes from me. Crank that up with me in the room and – if you’re game – I will gladly 5, 6, 7, 8 your ass all night.

But you know what I find myself listening to more often than not? Country Western. Not a fan of the twangy tunes, though there are definitely some old school favorites. It’s the contemporary, cross-over music that really gets to me. The lyrics always seem to have a clever double meaning and the end often wraps back around to the beginning, tying the song up in a big, gingham bow.

When I was a little girl, I used to wish I was Laura Ingalls Wilder, log cabin and all. Just tripping through the fields in my apron, or baking pies with Ma. And now that I’ve grown up, sometimes I kind of wish I lived in a country song. The good ones make life sound like a southern dream. Beer’s in the frig, supper’s on the stove, game’s on the tube…what’s not to love, right?

I mean, who wouldn’t want fried chicken, comfortable jeans, and a cold drink on a Friday night? Friends gathered around a fire, sipping whiskey and making memories seems like a fine way to pass the time to me. I’ll take a stolen kiss under a cottonwood tree. Getting tangled up with somebody on a warm summer night in the middle of nowhere? Oh hell yes. Who doesn’t love a healthy dose of heart-pounding angst?!

Nobody in country is singing about the bitches up in the club. (Though I admit, there is a time and place. Equal-opportunity, remember?) They aren’t worried about reapplying sunscreen or getting your cardio in. To the contrary, country music is bright-eyed and bushytailed. It’s loose braids and freckles, flirting and heartbreak, sunburned lips and cherry coke, and long days on the porch swing. I see it as a glimpse into a simpler time, where people talk, drive, and live a little more slowly than in my every day life.

The stories remind us of how deep our roots are – or aren’t. They speak to us about the universal milestones in life – growing up and growing old, falling in love and falling apart, first times and final moments. These thought-provoking songs are an invitation to soul-dive, dream, and reminisce. Each one tells a unique tale, and I tell you what: I’m all ears.

So when you’re in the mood for a journey, listening to country can take you on that ride. Maybe that’s what I find so appealing…these words have the power to take us back to younger days, better days…even to days we’ve never lived, like that Little House on the Prairie existence I imagined when I was a little girl. In just a few minutes I’m back to a time when boys were a breathless mystery (and not creatures with noisy bodies who leave their size 13s in the hallway). It takes me back to lazy, long summers where every day was spent laying on the beach dreaming about my first crush and all that had yet to be.

Maybe I’m like Donny and Marie – a little bit country and a (tiny) little bit rock and roll. I live in SoCal but I love my cowboy boots and a Southern accent. I will enjoy a little Fireball whiskey from time to time. I have the requisite freckles. And I’d like to think I’m not your typical native Angelino – I don’t care about who you know, I care about who you are. Yee haw and amen!

And as a prize for reading, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Keith Urban is my dirty country boyfriend. Dirty because of the whole heroin thing. (It was a long time ago, pre-Nicole. So? Everyone has baggage.) Yeah, laugh it up. Girl hair, don’t care. KU+AH 4EVS. Also, my new, younger country boyfriend is Sam Hunt. He used to play football (bonus!) and wrote a bunch of popular songs recorded by big country stars (including Keith’s “Cop Car”) before stepping behind the microphone himself. Don’t even try to scoff at the country chat style. I dare you to listen to his “Speakers” song on repeat and then tell me with a straight face that you aren’t ready to sack that quarterback.

I also dare you to be an equal-opportunity listener and throw some new tunes in the mix. Classic rock is great on a Sunday morning. Seventies soft rock goes perfectly with wine and friends. And country will help you escape from wherever you are to wherever you want to be, anytime. It’s about tapping into your authentic self and being a dreamer for a minute, and if you need a little something to get you there, pump up the volume and sail away.

Your bickering kids, the carpool line, and the huge pile of laundry on your bed won’t stand a chance. Boots and whiskey optional (but encouraged).

Bless your heart.

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