I believe, much to the surprise of my inner child, in good ole’ fashioned country and western music. Its lyrical grittiness tells the story of the human experience better than any other musical genre. “Work your fingers to the bone, what do you get? Bony fingers.” Or “Papa loved Mama. Mama loved men. Now Mama’s in the graveyard, and Papa’s in the pen.”
My indoctrination began early. My Dad rocked me to sleep, softly singing “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” George and Tammy, Waylon and Dottie, and, of course, Johnny Cash waited patiently on top of one another on his turntable for their go round in our dilapidated apartments — military housing — in whatever country we were stationed. The sounds of home.
In early adolescence, my brother and I gave my dad so much grief, playing air banjo and singing, “Twang. She left me.” Then, during high school, I rebelled to the screaming guitars of Rush, the Scorpions and AC/DC. But, even then, hearing Don Williams sing about the things he loved would bring me right back.
As it turns out, country music has been the soundtrack for so many memorable occasions in my life. At one friend’s wedding, the bridal party of which I was a part was serenaded by Garth’s “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places.” At another’s in which I was Maid of Honor, one of my fondest memories was riding through Michigan farm country in a bright red stretch limousine on our way to the reception, belting out “It’s a beautiful day, not a cloud in sight, so I guess I’m doin’ alright” with Jo Dee Messina. On a dark, snowy night in Nashville ten years ago, my husband and I had the privilege of being flashed by Porter Wagoner at the Grand Ole’ Opry. I danced with our newborn daughter, Greta, in our living room, teary-eyed and singing along with Lee Ann Womack, hoping when given the chance, Greta will choose to dance.
Today, my mom-mobile is pre-programmed with two country stations. We’re either “Buzzin’ with the B,” as my husband chides, or listening to the new cowboy in town, Thunder 94.5.
Country music is music for the downtrodden. Maybe that’s why I like it. It never fails to lift me up to know I’m not in jail, still have a job and my husband hasn’t filed for D-I-V-O-R-C-E.
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