Today I was having a discussion with a friend about country music. I don't like to talk about the fact that I'm from rural West Virginia for a million reasons. The first reason is, I don't want to be judged. and the second reason is that rural life, particularly in Appalachia, has its interesting quirks that a lot of people just can't fully understand. People hold a lot of stereotypes about what it means to be from this region, I don't like to get into it. I would like to get to a point where I can like it and love it. I have a lot of conflicting feelings, especially about how I left to pursue better opportunities and what that means, not only for me, but also for the people who stay.
My heart misses West Virginia every day.
It's where I'm from. I am proud that a member of my family was responsible for opening the first hospital in the small town, the hospital where I would later enter the world on a Sunday afternoon. I am proud that I mowed my lawn, helped my mom lay tile inside our house, dig the hole for our above-ground pool. I am proud that I grew up in a town where people held each other accountable for our good times and our bad times.
Once I started listening to my own music, I switched the stations quite a lot. But when you grow up in "country" territory, you can't not hear country music even if you don't want to. It's on the pop stations (because we only had like 4)
Here's my country playlist to explain why I (even today) will say that I do love country music.
Willie Nelson, On The Road Again:
I still remember the first time I heard this song, I was knee-high to my grandma and she and I sang it together. Willie's voice sounded so nice over the radio. I thought he had to be a nice man because his voice sounded so warm and friendly. Every time I hear this song I am taken back to being knee-high to my grandmother in the driveway of her house. Willie's voice feels like a huge hug from a person you know & trust.
Garth Brooks, And The Thunder Rolls
I was too little to really understand why this song moved me, but it's quite a story. I love the parts of country & folk music traditions where a whole story is told.
Garth Brooks, Friends in Low Places
Country music always seems to take on the production style of the era in which it's in. So I don't think modern country music being bad is necessarily just about it's new self-political identifications.
Mary Chapin Carpenter - Passionate Kisses
Marketing is the only reason she is "country" and not 1990's singer/songwriter. I love this song.
Vicki Lawrence, The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia
Is this country? I don't care. This song fucking rules.
Bobbie Gentry, Fancy
Is this country? Is this soul? What is this. I don't know, but this song is right & real. If the lyrics to this song don't get into your bones... whooof I don't know.
Bobbie Gentry, Ode To Billy Joe
"like" this post if you went to high school with more than one Billy or Billie Joe
Glen Campbell, Wichita Lineman
One of the greatest songs of all time. The only reason we would call this country in modern-day parlance is because of Glen Campbell's accent. Am I right... or?
Patsy Cline, Walking After Midnight
Released in the time of vocal jazz standards, it sounds also remarkably like other genres of music that were released during this time.... hmmm...
Patsy Cline, Crazy
Charlie Pride, Is Anybody Going to San Antone?
Kenny Rogers, The Gambler
My dad told me to listen to this song, that it would "teach me about life." Love you, Dad.
Jackie DeShannon, Put A Little Love In Your Heart
Jackie is from rural Kentucky and I can hear it in the way she sings. Is she pop or is she country? She sang a few of Burt Bacharach tunes (Very well I might add). Have always loved her voice and her songs.
Not sure if this counts as country, but some serious chops on display.
Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys
I have loved the Carolina Chocolate Drops for a really long time and was fortunate enough to see them live before they got huge.
Saved my Dolly for last:
Dolly Parton, Jolene
Dolly Parton, Joshua
Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors (her favorite song, a completely true story)
Dolly Parton, 9 to 5 (because it rules)
Just a few. There are so many more, but I am tired right now...