Thursday, July 5, 2012

Music Monday on Thursday

You have heard me mention a lot of bands and genre of music that I really like. What you haven’t heard was of my fondness of country music. Why not? Well, because up until recently, I never liked country music – or perhaps, I never gave it a fair chance…. Either way, I swore off country music my whole life. I’m not really sure why. It could be that I grew up in New York – I didn’t know anyone who listened to country. And after moving down here to Georgia, I held on to anything northern with all my might. Including my resistance to southern culture (including grits and country fried steak and gravy – which I thoroughly enjoy now).

I believe it had a lot to do with my pride. God has been faithfully chiseling away at my pride, one painful chip at a time. I thought I was too good for country music. It was beneath me. Why was I so arrogant…? Seriously, I am AARON COOMBS. I know no wrong - unless it pertains to others (especially country music). What I believed and what my family believed was inspired by God Himself… I do jest slightly, but what a jerk!

My wife likes country music, and for my sake has for over two years suppressed her desire to listen to it - at least while I was around. Until a couple months ago she turned the car radio to a country station…. The beginning of my demise (just kidding). After enduring my heavy sighs and eye rolls, she said “I don’t know why you don’t like country music, it so very similar to folk music – that you like so much.” God’s timing is impeccable. Any other time that comment would have been followed by more sighs, eye rolls and some ridiculous arrogant reply that probably would have fueled an argument.

So, I thought about what she said and started to compare what I knew of country music to folk music. Musically, they are very similar: acoustic guitar, bass, occasional fiddle, banjo (I secretly want to play the banjo), maybe a harmonica, drums, keys, etc. they sound a lot alike. I think the difference that gets me is the vocal difference and lyrical content. Country singers tend to be twangy, sometimes over dramatizing the southern drawl – not a fan. Now, I will say there are always extremes, and not all singers sound like deep south mountain folks. But for some reason those have always left the biggest impression in my mind – thus deterring me from wanting to listen at all.

Lyrically, country music consists of a lost dog, a broken pick-up, a fishing hole and a girl that’s too good to be true. I’m not bashing these things: I have been sad about a lost or deceased dog, I like pick-up trucks and fishing, and I am married to a girl that is too good to be true…. But I didn’t grow up in a culture where all these thing were going on at the same time. We didn’t go muddin’ in New York. And you wouldn’t fish in the Hudson river…. Even though my family moved to Georgia when I was twelve, we were very out of place. Kinda like we were air-dropped in the middle of a jungle tribe somewhere.

So, now twenty-five years later, country music is starting to grow on me – slowly, mind you… my job requires me to work in a lot of different cars each day. A few weeks ago I decided that instead of changing the radio station in each car, I would listen to whatever station was on – therefore forcing myself to broaden my realm of musical influence.

I will say that at this point I don’t know one country artist from another and I generally don’t like female country singers, although I do generally like women vocalists. And there is WAY more country music that I don’t like than what I have found that I do like – for the time being, anyway. That being said, I realized that most of my attraction to country is that it is different. It’s a change for me. And I like change (most of the time…).

So, whatever style of music you prefer, there is something for everyone in every style of music. Which doesn’t mean that you have to abandon what you have always enjoyed. But, perhaps, by expanding our horizons we will have a greater opportunity to connect with those who favor a different genre of music. Which in part, will help to build community. Which is a very good thing….

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