Dear Country Music

I love country music.

I grew up on it.  I loved listening to the radio in the evenings when Mama had it on while she was cooking supper.  When I was old enough I got a clock radio–oh y’all, it had real hands on it and you just had to kind of guess where to put the “alarm hand” to wake up at six or six-thirty.  It was precious.  (Yeah, we’ll go with that.)  I listened to the country music station–WDEN–when I sat and did my homework on my bed.  I loved the music, the words, and the DJ’s–there were some real characters on there for sure.  I remember the one weekend that JD North holed himself up in the control booth and played Hank Williams Jr’s “Family Tradition” over and over when he was trying to raise money for a charity.  It was a mess, but you couldn’t change the station because you never knew if this was the last time he would play it.  Ah, but no…..

Daddy especially enjoyed country music, but as the years went by, he complained about the demise of country music.  How the new artists weren’t singing real music–that they were turning to rock and roll and foul lyrics.  My Daddy preferred the songs of the older artists for the most part.  He used to put “Pancho and Lefty” on the record player and set it to play over and over and over.

He loved a good story.  Always.

Daddy also loved a good tune.  He really liked some of Lionel Richie’s songs, just because of the music.  He also liked Boy George’s “Karma Chameleon”–again the music.  Go figure.

But I digress.  I got to thinking about the state of country music the other day when a fairly new song came on the radio.  “Day Drinking” by Little Big Town.  I have been burning up my search engine because I really think I’ve heard this tune in a commercial or something, but maybe what happened is I’ve heard and liked the tune, but never listened to the words.

Dear Country Music,

Day Drinking?

Really?

I know y’all aren’t talking about a jug of sweet tea either.

I’ve tried to ignore the trend.  It’s been heading that way for a while.  Dierks Bentley’s “Tip It on Back”–I love the tune, I love the laid back feel, so I tried to pretend that you were suggesting I could tip on back my jug of water I tote around.  But then he came out with “Drunk on a Plane” and well, yeah, that one was a little hard to ignore.

This next one is hard for me.  I love me some Eric Church, but “A Cold One” is about regretting the ex-girlfriend taking one of his beers as she left.

Oh Eric, REALLY?

I’m starting to think you are all one or two short of a twelve-pack.

As I was writing this, I came across an article “Does Country Music Need an Alcohol Intervention?” which served to validate what I’d been noticing.

There’s a whole lot of drinking and partying going on in country music.

“The old guys were regretfully drunk,” says songwriter Adam Wright, whose current Lee Ann Womack single, “The Way I’m Livin’,” embodies the same attitude. “The new guys are proud to be drunk. There’s a little bit of a different spin.”

Exactly.

All of you out there writing the songs and then selling the songs and then recording the songs and then yes, choosing to play these songs–can you please do me one favor?

Can you pay attention to who is listening to your music?

Teens.

Young people.

People who need every bit of help they can get to figure out what being an adult looks like.  It’s not getting drunk and being proud of it.  Not for one minute.  No sir.  Being an adult doesn’t look like sitting around drinking coffee all the time (like in Friends) nor does it look like partying until you can’t remember anything the next day.

Being an adult is about making responsible choices.  Which is why I nearly laughed out loud at a high school graduation where the graduates were told they were adults now.  Hardly.  But we’ll save that for another night.

Country music, you had one of your finest moments when Mark Alan Springer and Shaye Smith wrote the song that Kenny Chesney recorded and released in 1998.  “That’s Why I’m Here.”  It’s a real picture of what can happen in real life as a result of all that partying and all that drinking.  I know this–I’ve watched it happen.

And I’m watching it again, country music.  My daughter has a friend who is drinking his life away.  At 18.  It might not happen now or in his 20’s or 30’s but how many do we have to lose to this disease in their 40’s and 50’s before someone stands up and says,  “Enough is enough.”

It’s time.

Enough is enough.

Please stop glamorizing drinking.  Please stop making it look like no fun can be had without a “Drink in My Hand.”  (Oh me, Eric Church–you do have some great songs out there, but this one…..oh me.)  It has a great tune, and I’ve watched my daughter’s friend belt this song out with a face full of joy–before he was drinking.  Y’all make it sound so fun.

And these kids don’t know any better.

Please.  Just.  Stop.

I love country music.  And my children do too.  But as my oldest watches friends and people she loves succumb to drinking and the poor judgment that comes with it, I’m considering shutting you out of my life.  I may be pulling out my Daddy’s record albums for more than just nostalgia if this doesn’t stop.  I don’t want my children to wind up like my daughter’s friend–at a get together and unable to relax and enjoy being with folks because he needs someone to bring his underage self a beer.

My heart breaks y’all.

It’s just too much.  When you’ve seen a life ruined and a person kill themselves with alcohol…..

It’s real.

Thank you country music for your time.  Please write and produce more songs with stories, really good stories, like you have in the past.  Not even about alcohol or drinking, but if it has to be about drinking, at least write ones that show the reality of it–like “That’s Why I’m Here,” “Whiskey Lullaby,” and Collin Raye’s “Little Rock.”   I know you have it in you.  Please show some responsibility.

Sincerely,

A Mama Who Has Three Precious Country Fans to Raise And Has Seen What Alcohol Can Really Do…..And It’s Not Fun

At All

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Dear Country Music

  1. Nancy

    So true, Tara. I subbed today and had Pandora on in the room as the kids did a worksheet (oh, the hard life of a sub in high school) and trying to find a song of ANY genre that I didn’t have to skip either because of its content, intent, or language was really difficult! The kids didn’t understand why I kept skipping songs. “Oh Mrs. Miles, it just says the “f” word once or twice” Oh well, THANK GOODNESS! Because THREE TIMES is my limit!!! Uh, NO!! Or……”Mrs. Miles, this one doesn’t SAY that word”, No, it didn’t, but it implied it in ways that made me blush!! What are we teaching them? Are parents even bothering with teaching them (other than you or me)? I could go on and on with this. Enough for now.

    1. Wow. I know, I’m thinking if we don’t listen to country what else is there to listen to? Hardly much quality anymore anywhere. Although I had it on Elvis radio the other day and went to change the station and Cooter had a fit. “That was the KING, Mama! Why did you change it?” Channeling my Daddy, I guess. 😉 Thanks for reading and for sharing your story. Love you.

  2. Cynthia @ Flotsam of the Mind

    I agree! I stopped listening to the new country music station a few months ago because every song seemed to be about bars and tailgating. The newer country artists seem to have abandoned the storytelling tradition of country music, which always has been my favorite part.

    1. You are stronger than I am, Cynthia. I try to venture away, but I do miss it. I just click away a lot. If it’s a song that tells a story or is entertaining, okay, but if they start up that mess, there’s a button on my steering wheel that changes it real quick like. Yes, I miss the focus on storytelling too.

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