Country Music across (1/5th of) the Country

If you drive, you can learn a lot about the U.S. as you travel through it by listening to its radio stations from state to state, and a bit about yourself if you’re honest about how you’re looking at an experience too.

Note, I’m making up the following percentages as rough estimates, and I certainly don’t feel like I know enough about country music in whatever its many iterations may exist to give an accurate summary about it so consider with grains of salt:

A good 40-70% of the stations are various Christian religion stations or country music depending on where you are. Maybe about 3-12% are public radio depending on where you are.

8-13% rock
10-30% pop
3-5% contain rap or actual hip hop

A few (extrapolated) observations: there are some interesting parallels between (again, I suspect it’s only a representation of today’s popular commercialized) country music and a lot of the rap.

The “boom clap” pattern has been adopted into [pop?] country music. The stereotypical subject matter—the stuff you tend to hear singers singing about or people complaining—can be similar too: in commercial radio-station country music trucks, women, guns, alcohol, maybe smoking a cigarette too. Similarly with rap: cars, women, guns, alcohol and smoking cannabis.

Yes, I know there are good country musicians and rap writers today too. Many–in fact, I like to believe most–listeners appreciate the genre often for the wisdom that’s communicated through the storytelling. A friend literally sent me a song by the rapper Nas to teach about loyalty and friendship for example. You’ll certainly find eras, good songwriting goes in and out, and performances often reflect upon the times too.

So it’s here, dear reader, where we’ll enter the domain of country music that I can find plenty to appreciate.

I’m learning some songs requested by a student which in my opinion points to some of the not too-distant roots of today’s [mostly commercial] country music.

For example, this one–Yes Ma’am, He Found Me in a Honky Tonk sung by Leona Williams

If you think about it, it’s a sad song—a woman is getting judged by another woman and…
(concedes/relegates/regards, relegates, remiss, acquiesce, resorts, ? [super edit: I’ve been missing the word I wanted to use–it’s *resigns*! thanks, Adam!])
…resigns herself to accept and agree with what the woman judging her says.

You can imagine that the admonisher says she’s not really worthy of the man she loves, and that he deserves someone better than her.

If you know the mechanisms to verbal abuse, it takes a lot of exposure for sense of self-worth to wear down to that point. Critical violence, even in one’s attitude toward their self like what we hear, is more often than not a learned behavior.

This means that the woman in the story, and whoever wrote the song, had to have seen and heard a lot of disparagement, or at least enough to write a song about it and in order to write from that point of view.

Signs+symptoms of verbal abuse



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