The Top Country Music Keywords, Explained
Starting as a 6-day-a-week radio DJ at age 14, I have been in the music business for a million years. I was an executive and talent at radio stations across the country - from Memphis to Dallas, Connecticut to California. As a result of hearing hit records over and over, I am no longer able to enjoy much of anything from the mid seventies to the early 2000s. I hate the Beatles. I'm sick of Led Zeppelin. If I hear "The Reflex" by Duran Duran I reach for the mute button as fast as I can. I played Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It" on the air every 90 minutes for 9 months. Can't hear it ever again. I'm sick of all of it.
I was knee-deep in sugary Top 40 songs and album rock anthems for so long the pleasure has been removed.
Some of the songs our band plays meets this fatigue criteria. I told the guys I don't love them, but I enjoy very much playing those songs with them and lots of people DO love them! I think they get it..
Recently I have been consuming modern country music. Never was a fan, so it's all new to me. Since I am tired of absolutely zero songs of this genre, I started absorbing it all. It didn't take long to notice some recurring theses and keywords.
To listen to country music as a non drinker must be torturous. Beer is consumed by practically everyone in every verse of every song,
Lots of drankin' going on in these songs. Artists tend to drink whiskey with beer, or on the rocks. In every song. Crown and Jack Daniels seem to be preferred.
Big trucks. Beer and whiskey is consumed on the tailgates of these vehicles. In every song.
There are no bucket seats in country music trucks, by the way. The girl is always sitting in the middle, right next to her man.
Because that's when high school football is played.
High School Football.
Hard to find a song which does not celebrate this sport. Lots of references to Friday night lights, stadium lights, homecoming, etc.
I have not been to a true country bar in a while, but do they all have neon lights above the dance floor? Country music says they do. In almost every song.
Sundresses / Jeans / Boots.
Our male country songwriters do enjoy a good sundress. The females ones do as well. Many references to the sexy factor of these items show up in much of the country top 40.
In the truck, bedroom, on the lawn; lots of country folk are doing a fair share of sitting underneath it, on the tailgate of a truck, drinking beer and whiskey and figuring out how to get laid.
In those jeans, or in that red sundress, all types of hair is described. Waterfall curls, ballcap hair, ponytails, windblown as well - because the windows of the pickup truck are always down. Country music celebrates perpetual summer, by the way. Haven't heard a songs about snow yet.
Mama's porch. Daddy's porch. Sippin' sweet tea on the porch. Preacher comes to visit, so let's sit a spell on the porch. Kisses are stolen on porches, under moonlight, after a night a neon light raining down on our characters.
The findings of my initial research? The lyrics of much of the country top 40 are:
"I was driving my truck with a girl sitting next to me on that bench seat in a sundress and long flowing hair with the windows down in the moonlight after the football game on Friday night. We went to the bar to drink beer and do shots of Jack and dance under neon lights."
I'm not a hater. Some of these songs are awesome. Not all are cliche. They're honest, simple songs about rural and small town America, a way of life that many city folks have no clue about and have no business criticizing. Some of the songs are a bit ridiculous, but others are genius.
Maybe dad's impala will dip our toes into a modern country song or two. Remove the banjo and/or fiddle and a lot of this is basically rock and roll anyway.
Chris Stapleton comes to mind. He's the GOAT.