Growing up, Dad listened to country music exclusively in the car. Frank and I spent a lot of time in the car with Dad, as he drove us to school in the morning 10 miles from where we grew up. We listened to a lot of country music. At some point, I decided country music was not cool and started listening to rock music. Perhaps this was just me rebelling — perhaps it was just striking out on my own. I don’t know for sure, but for a long time I vehemently denied liking country music.
As one might expect, I was exposed to a lot of different musical styles as I grew up and I really enjoyed a lot of alternative and punk music played on the likes of 99.1 WHFS in the 80s and later 103.1 WRNR in the 90s. I looked forward to leaving my small hick-town and going to college where I’d be able to find a cool college radio station that played all kinds of great music.
I went to Penn State. No such station existed. Radio land in State College was miserable on its best day. I was very disappointed. Nevertheless, as one does, I found a bunch of friends who were into lots of good music, and gradually my musical horizons broadened. One friend in particular (with whom I lost touch a long time ago) listened to a lot of jazz. By the time I left school, I was pretty much listening to everything except Rap, Hip-Hop, and Country.
I maintained this stance for a long time. Then in the late 90s a girlfriend was a country fan. I gradually got to the point where I not only tolerated it, but occasionally tuned into the local country station on the radio. Eventually I actually started buying CD’s (yes, this was before the MP3 boom).
Over the years, I’ve grown tired of the rampant anger, disgust, discontent, and angst prevalent in a lot of music. I got to a point where I could no longer listen to a lot of the stations that came out of DC because they played so much angry music. It was time for a change.
Enter country music.
I know, everyone thinks country is a bunch of old dudes singing about one-eyed dogs and remorseful infidelity. But I’m here to tell you that a lot of country is actually upbeat and positive – hopeful even. And this carries over to my attitudes. When I spend time listening to the local country station, 93.1 WPOC, I find that I genuinely feel better – and I believe it all has to do with the messages of the music.
Interestingly, this morning on there was a spot on what’s in 2009 as opposed to what’s out from 2008. One of the comments was that “Anger based music” is out and “More hopeful, fun music” is in; that and dancing. If you’ve never listened to country music, I’d suggest giving it a try, with an open mind, you just might like it.
I, for one am ready for some happier, better times.