Family, faith and America are all things that come to mind when I think of country western. It is my favorite genre of music. Growing up listening to legends such as George Strait, Alison Krauss and Hank Williams Jr. have made me appreciate the classical sound of a banjo being picked or a fiddle being played with an immense amount of passion.
As country music continues to grow in popularity, I want to make it clear that listening to country music is most entertaining when you choose the right country music to listen to.
I used to sit in the back of my dad’s Ford Ranger as a kid and sing along to Shania Twain and Garth Brooks. Never have I strayed from the genre that taught me a lot about life and love. I associate most of my childhood memories with songs such as “Chicks Dig It” by Chris Cagle and “I Swear” by John Michael Montgomery. Songs of making memories and finding love really pull at my heartstrings and create a sense of nostalgia.
These songs address real problems and situations, and they are often based on true stories. Miranda Lambert and her husband Blake Shelton, for example, sat down together and wrote the song “Over You,” which is about the death of Shelton’s brother. I went to Shelton’s concert last year, and he performed the song solo with an acoustic guitar. There was not a dry eye in the arena. The meaning behind this song and most other country songs is the main reason I, along with millions of others, are able to relate so well to them.
Something for everyone
Finding the right kind of country music is the key to being thoroughly entertained. Don’t get me wrong; I love some Taylor Swift. Others may get in touch with their western side when they hear her, but I personally do not. The classics and 1990s country music are what I like to stick with.
The genre is filled with happy mediums. Lambert and Shelton have done a wonderful job of keeping up with the modern changes in country, as well as keeping the western-hometown feel of the genre. Country music is so broad, in fact, that some artists such as Colt Ford have managed to add a form of rap into their music.
The fact that the industry continues to grow is apparent by the number of people who listen to country radio and attend concerts. According to the 2014 Nielsen Music U.S. Report, 11.2 percent of total music consumption were country music listeners, behind rock, hip-hop and pop.
According to the Statistics Portal, five of the top 15 most successful music tours in North America were country musicians in 2014. Of the country musicians, Luke Bryan had the highest ticket sales, racking in 1.27 million. Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, Garth Brooks and George Strait also made the list. The number one ticket sales spot went to One Direction, if that tells you anything.
My parents brought me home from the hospital playing country music. They never turned it off because of crude language or inappropriate content. Some country songs can be inappropriate as all genres are, but it is rare. Most albums have multiple references to faith and living a life full of good morals and devotion to God. Anyone trying to raise kids based on those values can play country music without any hesitation, which I’m sure is the reason for country music being such an important part of my upbringing.
Country music is the reason my values are as strong as they are. It has strengthened my morals, my patriotism and my standards for establishing positive friendships and relationships. The genre is one I trust, love and often live by. Once you find the area of country music you identify with most, there will be no going back; I promise. Plus, who can resist Luke Bryan’s signature booty shake?
Shelby Rayburn is a freshman in business administration.