Thereâ€™s no reason on earth why I should listen to country music. Iâ€™m British, grew up in London and live in New York. I dislike music that panders to god or shallow patriotism and country music often does that in the same sentence. It frustrates me when people make a virtue of ignorance (â€˜a little bit backwards here in the back woods, who cares as long as it feels goodâ€™), and a constant harking back to the â€˜good ole daysâ€™ suggests a strong antipathy towards progress that sits uncomfortably with the tech entrepreneur side of me.
But I love country. And not just the old-timey blue-grass country that might win me some level of acceptance among my New York hipster friends but full-on Sugarland, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert country. And I find myself echoing the cries of my co-workers when theyâ€™ve come in early in the morning to finger-picking guitar and words pronounced with more vowels than they contain and ask myself â€˜why, Tony why?â€™
I think there are two reasons. In country music, when they arenâ€™t talking about a â€˜hottie with a smoking little bodyâ€™ they often deal with themes not so much of young love but of long-term partnerships, a subject that has been much on my mind over the last year or two. Thereâ€™s far greater reference to love being about building a life together with all the difficulty and decisions that requires than the emotion-dependence of some other genres. Hereâ€™s a verse from Terri Clarkâ€™s â€˜I Just Wanna be Madâ€™:
Last night we went to bed not talking
Cause we already said to much
I face the wall you faced the window
Bound and determined not to touch
We’ve been married 7 years now
Some days it feels like 21
I’m still mad at you this morning
Coffee’s ready if you want some
I love that last line for everything that it says about long-term relationships, the acknowledgement that no matter how angry or hurt she might be, sheâ€™s in it for the long haul and she acknowledges what that entails.
The second reason is far more personal. Country Music is probably the only major musical genre that I had almost no exposure to until recently. Iâ€™d never listened to a country song until I met a Pennsylvania girl who, despite my complaints, would play it constantly. I subsequently moved in with that girl and recently, in a triumph of persuasion over her better judgement, married her.
She introduced me to country, and without her I have no frame of reference for the music. Whenever I hear country, I donâ€™t have a thousand different memories of people or places from my past competing in my mind, I only have her. Every country song is our song, because they are all indelibly associated with her. Every time some guy in an over-sized hat sings about love, or family, or a life together, to me he is singing about her, about us. When weâ€™re apart, I can conjure her through my iPod and feel joy, when a country song comes on in a shop I am immediately reminded of her and how truly inexplicably lucky I am to have found the woman who is now my wife and my life. That, more than anything, is why I listen to country.