Monday, October 29, 2012

Country Music Justified

I was driving through what seemed to be a cluster of little towns West of Vancouver. It felt like driving through sort of northern Ohio on the way to Indiana, you know, countryside, country stuff, and a whole lot of trucks of all sorts of sizes. I turn Sirius on only to see it go to a country music station.

"What?!" I say outloud. "What is this? Country?

Then a song by someone called JT Hodges popped up. The song's called "Sleepy Little Town" and the video is below. I vexingly try to locate my iPhone so that I can play my playlists or grooveshark or something. I've to got to get some Killers or Muse or something playing here. As I fumble through my stuff trying to find the right music to play, I listen to the song and I start getting in the mood for it. Maybe it was the snowy sleepy little town-like areas I was driving through or the lyrics but I let the song play out. It started to divert me. Enough so that I let Sirius be on the 'Highway' channel for a while. The Highway channel plays new country music, for those of you who have not been exposed to it yet.

Hmm. How about that? I'm listening to country. I feel a smirk coming on my face. I got a phone call from someone who asked me what I was up to and I quickly said, "oh, you know, jamming to country, eating a red delicious, the usu...." He said, "are you ok? You can't be listening to country. I get the apple but country?"

I instantly thought of a student paper I graded back in the summer of 2000 when I was teaching my first serious university course on modern literary interpretations. I had said 'no' to going to Europe with someone and instead chose to stay in the desert, teach literature, and watch Gladiator with my favorite friend almost every week that whole summer. On that paper, the best German speaker I had in that class, wrote, "Ich mag Musik sehr. Aber Country Musik soll ja illegal werden." "I love music but country music should be illegal."

I remember cracking up at the comment. I think I wrote a comment akin to, 'ha, lustig, aber man muss halt tollerant sein, oder?" "Ha, Funny. But one needs to be tollerant, right?"

Funny what kind of memories make it in the bank, isn't it?

The longer the distances I drive, the more I tend to think of those high-frequency memories that keep coming back day in, day out. Why do some seemingly simple memories make it in and other substantive moments go out the window? And every time I ask myself why I remember some but black out the rest. Why do we choose what we choose?

Why can't one remember the first kiss but instead remembers a kiss in the rain on a day that wasn't particularly a good one. Or why achievements and things that should mean so much are but a footnote that becomes fainter and fainter as more time goes by. Instead, a seemingly inocuous memory of you driving around town in a vintage VW yellow truck with orange leather interior is as vivid as what you did today in the late afternoon.

Yes, I did listen to country music. And not just once. I let Sirius play one country track after another. And I didn't feel as shocked as the first seconds of this track:


Liam said...

I, too, at one point turned my back on the music of my youth. Either nostalgia or maturity brought me back. I'm still not a fan of most newer, poppy country, but a good artist is a good artist, and a good song is a good song.

B.R. said...

Totally. I especially felt prone to it when witnessing areas for which country music seems to have been made.