Gut Rumbles

May 31, 2004

country music

I never realized that I was a fairly poor boy when I was growing up. I was fed, watered and clothed and I knew that my parents loved me. They gave me all they had to give and I thought that was plenty until I hit high school.

That's when I learned that my clothes sucked. I couldn't be "cool" without Gant shirts, Gold Cup socks and a Barracuda jacket. My parents couldn't afford such shit, so I bought my own clothes. (Did I mention before that I've had a job almost all of my life since I was 12 years old?) I wanted THE UNIFORM that cool high school students wore.

It took me years to realize how foolish I was at the time. My parents may not have had much money, but I was a lot richer in other ways than most of the "cool" people I tried to emulate. I was a dickwit at the time.

Tonight, I've been listening to The Top 100 Country Music Songs Of All Time on CMN. My pick for the very best country song (Hank Williams: "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry") came in #32, so I am curious to see what is #1. But this has been a rough evening.

I've sat on the floor and cried a few times tonight. "Coat Of Many Colors" by Dolly Parton made me think of my mama, and tears rolled down my face. "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles made me think of Jennifer and my son, so I cried some more. "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" made me think of my whole family and I wept like a baby. "Strawberry Wine" by Dena Carter brought back memories of better days, set around a kitchen table where I played guitar and the woman I loved sang that song. "Forever and Ever, Amen," written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, and performed by Randy Travis, was the song my brother and my old-time singing partner, Sally Roundtree, sang at my wedding when Jennifer and I were married.

I cried some more.

Say what you will about country music, but it cuts straight to my heart. The words and music are so simple, yet so earthy that I fall head-first into the songs. They are about my life. I am a hillbilly and a Georgia Cracker. That kind of music sings to my soul.

Aw, shit. I don't know what I'm trying to say. If you don't get it when you hear the music, you're never gonna get it. It's either IN YOU, or it's not.

It's IN ME, and I want to watch the rest of the show.


I'd be curious to see if Aaron Neville's "The Grand Tour" is on the list. I LOVE that song. I was a rabid country music hater for years (I think it's because it was my dad's favorite, and so I refused to consider it), until I heard John Anderson singing "Straight Tequila Night." Hooked me immediately, and I've been a fan ever since.

Posted by: Kathleen on May 31, 2004 10:08 PM

Know what you mean.
How about Leann Rimes doing Patsy Clines songs, I knew she could be the second Patsy Cline anyway back to the show.

Posted by: Jack on May 31, 2004 11:35 PM

We're all hillbillies when it comes to country music.

I was born in Chicago. My dad drove a cab. I first listened to country music at the age of 22, when driving up to Minneapolis for a job interview. Until that day, I had always been contemptuous of country music. I simply assumed that it was for hicks, even though I'd never actually listened to it.. It was totally alien to me.

Chicago to Minneapolis is a six hour drive. There was nothing to listen to except Christian rock, country music, and Dr. Laura. I opted for the country music.

The first song I heard was Toby Keith's "Who's that Man." It was incredile. The lyrics were so damn sad...I could not believe the emotion they invoked. I knew they were over the top, a little maudlin, but damn...that was a sad song!

It totally opened my eyes. I realized that most of the stuff I had been listening to was crap. Rock had these meaningless lyrics "I'm going to the club...some hot girls are there..." etc. There was no artistry or poetry. A lot of the singers couldn't sing, and a lot of the music was unoriginal.

But country music was real music! The lyrics actually mean something. The singers have good voices and can carry a tune. Every melody is different. Wow!

And some country music is downright brilliant. Alan Jackson's "Gone Country" is one of the smartest and most interesting songs ever written. The way the different verses treat the characters in the song is jaw-droppingly brilliant. Wow!

Ever since that long drive, I have been a country music fan. What's more, it has made me realize that we are all hillibllies. I may not own a pickup truck, and have never lived on on a farm, but my family didn't have much money either when I was a kid. I know what the country songs are talking about when they discuss experiences like the one Acidman mentioned. It speaks to me too. Therefore, I am a fan.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe on June 1, 2004 12:49 AM

Rob.......if you haven't lived it, it don't mean shit to you.

Posted by: patootie on June 1, 2004 01:35 AM

aww that Randy Travis song is something, always has been. "Don't Take the Girl" never fails to make my eyes moist... carries no particular meaning for me, but hits me in the same soft spot the movie Steel Magnolias did. I can't even remember who sings it... senility sucks.

Posted by: Deb on June 1, 2004 05:15 AM

Love, love love all the songs mentioned. I tried to stay away from country music for years, because my parents were rabid fans. No dice - it sucked me in.

Posted by: Carmen on June 1, 2004 09:39 AM


"Forever and Ever Amen" was your wedding song? To Jennifer?

'Scuse me while I piss my pants, 'cuz that was my wedding song, too.

Let's hope the similarities end there... (with weddings, BCs, etc...)

Posted by: Jay G (a.k.a. Guy) on June 1, 2004 10:23 AM

Don't take the girl was by Tim McGraw. One of the few songs I like by him.

Posted by: Anna on June 1, 2004 11:29 AM

Rule #1: Stay away from country music if depressed or angry.

I was raised on country music and many of its songs tell the story of my life. Some of my favorites didn't make the top 100 either, like Red Bandana by Merle. Overall, though, the countdown spotlighted many of the anthems of my youth, or the ones I picked up from my stepdad from his youth. Today's country music doesn't hold a candle to what came out a few years ago. Karoake crooning belly-baring "hotties" come out with one song and are never seen again.

My favorite on the countdown is You are My Sunshine (#72, I think). My dearly departed grandmama sang that to me, and I also used to sing it to my cat. He's dead now, but the song brings him back to me whenever I hear it.

Posted by: Renee on June 1, 2004 11:41 AM

What do you get when you play a country song backwards?

You get your wife back. You get your job back. You get your dog back...

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip on June 1, 2004 08:20 PM

a pink-haired freak in Oregon (me) loves everything the Carter family did (That's be Mother Maybelle, etc). And just about everything ol' Johnny ever sang.

I'm straight up a city kid born and raised in Los Angeles , but a year in Nashville got me hooked on old Opry style stuff. I could give a flip about what now gets called Hot Country. To me, that's some of the most boring pap i've ever heard, rivalling only disco in it's insipidness, but i'll get down and jam to Motherless Children, Wildwood Flower and you name it by Flatt & Scruggs. I've been on a Lefty Frizzell kick lately, too.

One of my favorite records while growing up was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band/Opry dudes opus, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken". I "borrowed" that record set from my dad a good decade ago and ended up losing it, and replaced it a couple of years ago for him with the CD set. Best gift i ever gave him, he said. Was hard to not copy it to my computer first.

Posted by: pril on June 2, 2004 12:32 PM

come home, come home acidman, it's suppertime...

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Posted by: billy on September 28, 2004 09:06 PM

Psychotherapy is the theory that the patient will probably get well
anyhow and is certainly a damn fool.
-- H. L. Mencken
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