When I was younger my dad would often play some Dolly Parton, Kenny Rodgers, Randy Travis, Brad Paisley, and so forth. I did not think much of the country music back then; in fact I even disliked it a bit. But like a lot of things, the genre grew on me. And if you were to asked me today I would tell you how much I love the music. But what is it about country music that makes it so intriguing? How did this genre steal the hearts of so many listeners?
For me to answer these questions, we have to dig deep and analyse different aspects of the genre in general. Just like all genres we can see (and hear) that country music has numerous themes and concepts when it comes to songs. Moreover, it splits off into different subgenres. Country music, just like other genres, is a music that teaches through sound. That is, artists use their words to give an insight into their life experiences and lessons that they have learned. But when it comes to country music the message in the songs are generally fairly literal and easily understood. You do not need to do much to decipher them in comparison to genres like RnB or rap music. The way country artists sing their songs and combine it with their emotions allows the genre to reach a wider audience, because they can relate to what the artist is singing and or feeling.
[ Brad Paisley - Whiskey Lullaby ]
Take for example Brad Paisleys “Whiskey Lullaby”; one of my favourites. When you first hear the song you can conclude that based on the guitar's melancholic and depressing melodic intro it could be a sad song. When Paisley starts singing, he does not just sing lyrics; he tells a story in his song. This story is about a heart-broken man whose “true love” broke his heart and put his light out. To forget the pain, he took to drinking whiskey and hereby became an alcoholic, always reaching out for his whiskey. He was depressed for such a long time that eventually he killed himself and was buried beneath a willow three. The woman blamed herself for his death for years after and she in turn became a whiskey-drinking alcoholic. She died holding his picture and was buried under the same willow tree. The song's name can be derived from the line “The angels sang a whiskey lullaby” as these troubled souls were laid to rest.
Through the story in this song, people who have been heartbroken by someone they held dearly can relate to most of what goes on. The goes for someone who lost a loved one to depression too. Country music is magnificent when it comes to bringing out somebody’s emotions in that sense.
Country music is a genre in which the value of life and the lessons it brings are a very popular topic when it comes to songs. With stories ranging from suicide to parenthood, the variety is endless. I think the most notable difference between country music and other genres is the amount of emphasis artists tends to put on songs regarding powerful life lesson and tips. They do this by telling their own or other people's stories in a relatable manner, so that their listeners are able to catch on rather quick.
[ Randy Travis - Three Wooden Crosses ]
When I listen to country songs for example, it is not hard to relate because a lot of these songs are inspired real-life stories told by themselves or the people around them. “Three Wooden Crosses” by Randy Travis is one such song. It is about a preacher who is telling a story about someone close to him - his mother - who got a second chance at life, because she had yet to truly live. She was in a accident with three others, who did not survive and according to this preachers theory “Your time to leave this planet is dependent on what you leave behind you when you die, not what you take with you to the heavens.” This song can teach you different things. I interpreted it like: second chances are not for just anyone, except those who really need it.
All in all, we can conclude that country music is used as a way of storytelling and leaves more than sufficient room for interpretation on the listener's part. Hopefully this blog may have convinced you to give this still growing genre a try.