But you know, it kind of begs the question, if I sometimes review Americana acts, why do I choose to market this blog as a country blog? Why not name it “Music Minds” instead of “Country Music Minds”?
When I was a young kid, I didn’t care about music all that much. I was more preoccupied with video games than anything else. Whenever I was done with school for the day my grandparents would pick me from school (since my mother worked until 5) and take me back to their house for a little while. During those early years my love of country music began to develop (even if it didn’t come into full force until a later time in my life). Granted, I know that what I’ve said sounds kind of cheesy, and to be honest it’s going to get even cheesier, but hey, it’s my story and my journey of finding a love for music. Anyway, the time frame for this story is about the mid 2000’s, probably closer to 2006 or 2007. Whenever I was at my grandparents’ house there would almost always be music playing. It was a time when you could turn on the radio and not have to search as hard to hear acts like Alan Jackson or George Strait, or country music in general. So many people that I know through social media and other blogs have a childhood nostalgia for 90’s country. For me however, my nostalgia was but a decade ago.
Anyway, back to the radio thing. My grandparents would almost always have it playing, and when I wasn’t doing my homework or had my head stuck in a video game I’d sometimes casually listen. There were other times that my grandfather whipped out an old Johnny Cash (his favorite artist), Charley Pride, Merle Haggard or George Jones album and play it. Even when not at my grandparent’s house my mother would often like to play country or even southern rock music. Heck, our local country station used to be her alarm clock. We’ll come back to this in a bit, but as you can tell by now, while my family didn’t play a gazillion instruments or really obsess with country music the way I do today, it was still an important part of their lives that obviously had an impact on me. The sad part is, that impact didn’t hit me back in those days. It hit me much later.
Now, unlike other families who played a wide variety of music, country music was literally one of the only things I grew up on. Sure, I mentioned my mother playing southern-rock but that was in very low doses. Truth be told, the only time I heard other genres of music was if it played over the speakers in a store or something. Actually if I heard it any other way then I really don’t remember anymore. You know, it’s not important either. What’s important is specifically country music, and how the heck it finally hit me that it’s something I need in my life rather than just like.
As much as I would love to insert some cool story of how I ditched video games for the most part to listen to music as a hobby, I honestly don’t have one. For the life of me, I can’t think of why in 2010, I finally moved from just casually appreciating country music to actually really getting into it. I began to pay attention to the charts (although not in the same way that a few of my friends do. You know who you are), and I also began to actually listen to the songs instead of just appreciating them as background noise. I began to really notice why some of my favorite songs at the time were so great, in essence learning what truly makes a great country song. Passionate vocal performances, great instrumentation that consisted of fiddles, steel guitar, banjos…etc., and great stories were the reason I kept coming back. That love has only grown bigger and bigger since then, to the point where my world of music is way bigger than I ever could have imagined.
Now, I get that my story is a little dry. Trust me, I wish I could spice it up a little. But that’s literally how it went. Besides, the main point I’m trying to make with all of this is that it took time to really break into country and appreciate the key to making a good country song (even if it’s just my version of what makes a good country song). I’ve been listening to other genres a little more frequently these days and have even started to follow more and more critics who cover genres outside of country music. When it all comes down to it though, my main focus for review purposes is always going to be country since that’s the genre that’s shaped my life thus far. I identify with it the most and most likely always will.
I don’t love country music because I drive a jacked up truck or go fishing and hunting every weekend. That’s just the country lifestyle. I identify with country music because of the distinctive elements that comprise it. I love the honest lyrics, the fantastic instrumentation, and the fact that it’s just about real life. So the reason why I review country first and foremost and call myself a country music critic isn’t because I’m some stuck up purist snob. I review it because it’s what I know best, even if I’m still learning a lot about it every day.