Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Dichotomy of Country Music

I spent Sunday afternoon in our family farm's shop, refinishing a dresser I found at a local antique store. I'm a farmer's daughter, yes, and certainly what some would call a "country girl". But most who know me are surprised when they find this out about me. Maybe it's because my vocabulary doesn't include double negatives, or maybe it's because I don't like country music. Who knows.

I need to have music on when I refinish anything. It keeps me in the groove and passes the time a little faster. I realized I'd forgotten the ear buds to my ipod, so I was stuck with the shop radio, where I was only able to get one station to come in. Of course, it was a country music station. (After all, I do live in Nebraska, where throwing a rocks ensures you to hit a country music fan.) I can put up with said music for a time, so I left the dial where it was and kept it low in the background. Then my ears perked a little when this came on:

I am weak and he is strong
Me and God
He forgives me when I'm wrong
Me and God
He's the one I lean on
When life gets hard
Me and God

He's my Father
He's my friend
The beginning
And the end
He rules the world
With a staff and rod
We're a team
Me and God


Not exactly poetic, but nice to hear on a secular station. Then not 15 minutes later did this song hit the airways:

Chorus:
Cause I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
and I'd like to check you for ticks

Bridge:
You never know where one might be
and there's lots of places that are hard to reach

... I'd like to check you for ticks.


A quick Google search tonight informs me the song is performed by Brad Paisley, a name even I've heard of, so he must be pretty big.

I'm not a judgmental person. If there's anything I learned in my teens was being judgmental gets you nowhere. But I had to pause and think about the strange dichotomy of country music. Both of these are songs are currently on Billboard's "Hot Country" Top 25, so both must get regular airplay by the same radio stations listened to by like-minded people. I think that's a pretty fair assumption for me to make. I realize the tick song is supposed to fun and cute, but for me, when it hit the bridge, there was nothing "cute" about it. The lyrics simply bothered me.

Is the typical country music fan, mostly likely conservative and Christian, willing to be okay with both songs? Or should I ask, is the typical country music fan willing to straddle both fences and live in both worlds, simply because their music of choice seems to, dare I say it, promote that riding that fence is acceptable?

I know an older couple, law-abiding, church-going people, who every year have a New Year's Eve Party with a grab bag gift exchange. Several "dirty" gifts end up in the pot; enough to get lots of laughs out of everyone and embarrass whoever opened the gift. I've only been to this party once and was one of the unlucky "dirty" gift recipients. The host couple laughs along with everyone and some of the gifts that are not wrapped (simply in a bag) end up with these not-so-nice gifts, where-in the giver loudly protests "I did not put that in!" Not only do they attend church each week, but the wife teaches Sunday School. And honestly, I couldn't care less that they host this party, but I do care that they live in both worlds rather seamlessly, and I do care that this doesn't seem all that uncommon. It's as if "keeping up appearances" is all that matters, simply so we can have our "tick song" cake and eat the "feel-good about me and God" song too.

Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
- Matthew 5:37

6 comments:

ptg said...

Ticks in the cake? None for me, thanks.

stephanie said...

That does sound really disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

May I just say that the Lord used this blog page of yours to teach me a gentle, pointed lesson.

Praise the Lord. He has used your words to correct me.

stephanie said...

You're welcome.

My intent wasn't to judge, but to "gently correct." I'm glad it helped you.

Anonymous said...

I'm truly sorry for you getting those gifts. They should go to someone who can appreciate them more. That said, I believe it is not a cause to worry so. It's all in the Lord's care. He gave us a sense of humor that if used well and often can help brighten our paths. If that "Ticks" song ticks you off you should buy the CD and listen to "When We All Get To Heaven" - you'd like that and then you could tell all your friends to call and request that be played on the radio. It's a beautiful hymn and he does a great job with it. Yes, it's on the same CD as that "Ticks" song so that would probably trouble you and it follows another humorous song "Bigger Fish To Fry" which I think is sort of apology for all the corny risque content on his records. I would judge the paying customers and commercial radio and the country music industry more than I would judge Brad Paisley. He is a smart guy who obviously has Christian values. If he could make a good living singing and writing hymns, he probably would. Instead, he only throws 1 on per record or has to sell a lot of "Ticks" songs to make a gospel album that only a few of his fans would buy and that the radio would barely touch.

stephanie said...

Well, then it's a good thing I'm not criticizing Brad Paisley. You've missed the entire point of my post.

I specifically mentioned the fact that both songs were on the billboard top 25... and the people listening and requesting one song are listening and requesting the other as well.

That is the dichotomy of country music.

The fact that Brad Paisley ever recorded a hymn is news to me. But the fact that he sees the need to record both types of songs says something about the industry and only serves to illustrate my point.


And why would I buy a CD that has a song on it that I dislike? Makes no sense to me. (Especially after you are telling me to judge those who buy that kind of stuff.) And I hope no one ever appreciates the gift of a Santa where if you push on his head something pops out of his pants. I don't think I need to tell you want that "something" is. This was the gift given in the grab bag by a Sunday School teacher for 2 and 3 year old children.

I could care less that her and her husband are a part of one thing or the other thing. But it does bother me they are living both lives seamlessly. I see no honor in that. Pick one or the other, and live your life. But don't try to be both.