Growing up in the sticks of Southern Ohio I thought the only people who listened to country music were the "farmers" who proudly wore their bright blue FFA jackets and hung out in the Ag building. While I had to drive by cows between home and town I still saw myself as quite cosmpolitan. Now all I can do is laugh. I hadn't even driven on the interstate until I was 18--where I live now that Interstate pales in comparison to the 6 lane highway that runs behind my neighborhood.
I remember the song playing when I moved into my dorm freshman year--Blister in the Sun by the Violent Femmes was blasting from the room across the hall. I learned to appreciate a lot of music that year, some more than others. The remnants of the hair bands, the Violent Femmes, Randy Travis, Billy Ocean, Billy Joel, The Hooters, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the B-52s filled my college days. I listened to it all, often in an altered state at a fraternity house or in The Town House, our favorite bar. Country music was a small part of the mix but not the center of my music universe. That happened when I went off to graduate school.
I graduated from college with a degree in marketing during the recession. I couldn't bear the thought of taking job in telemarketing so when my alma mater offered me a chance to work there and give me a scholarship to go to graduate school I jumped at the chance! So began the commute from Marietta to Athens, OH 2-3 days a week for two years. Forty-eight miles of two lanes roads through rural Southern Ohio. I knew how far it was far it was to my destination from every landmark along the way. I knew the two places I could get gas and three radio stations--two of them played rap and one country, and thus my devotion to country music really began. I'd drive with the radio up at night to keep me awake, on beautiful blue skied days with the windows down singing at the top of my lungs on the endless black ribbon through nothingness.
I've heard all the jokes that go along with the stereotypes of country music, most of them from my husband. I've been to Jamboree in the Hills--the only time I've ever seen someone in a Speedo and cowboy boots. (My sister and BIL actually got engaged there) I saw Garth Brook in the height of his popularity. I tried to learn to line dance to Boot Scoot Boogie and God Bless Texas. While I wasn't much for the hats and boots (on myself), I did like the stories of country music and the fact I could make out the words and sing along. Oh yeah, the guys in tight jeans didn't hurt either. Then I grew up and moved to the 'burbs. I was a closet country fan for awhile but soon discovered I was far from alone, a lot of the other Mommies were listening to country too! What a relief, something else we could share besides stories of the kids.
These days one of my favorites is Watching You by Rodney Atkins its the story of a little boy who curses in the car and when his dad asks where he learned to talk like that--he replies "I've been watching you Dad." Later he asks his son where he learned to pray, again--I've been watching you Dad--a great reminder that they are watching us all the time and learning to be like us. PDQ has become a fan too, much to her father's chagrin, and sings it at the top of her lungs sometimes with the real words, sometimes with those she's made up as she goes along. Of course, the "hell yeah!" part of Redneck Woman, she's got that one down pat. She's also loves I Got a Brand New Girlfriend. I know that someday we will probably hate each others music, but for now its something that she and I can share and it makes me smile everytime she launches into her version of the song on the radio.