Do you like country music? If yes, then it’s likely you’ll keep reading. If no, then you and I were a lot alike not long ago. (Keep reading.)
I used to despise country music. Can’t tell you why, but I did. Absolutely hated it.
Growing up I listened to Neil Young, Pink Floyd and Lynyrd Skynyrd on repeat almost daily—because that’s what my dad played. Eventually those southern rock roots grew to love pop, then modern rock and alternative, and later even screamo, then Christian hardcore, and they rerouted back to rock, pop, rap… You get what I’m saying.
There was never an ounce of this “country” thing.
When I moved to Nashville for publishing in 2013, several people told me, “You’re going to come back [to West Virginia] a country girl!” My answer was a firm no every time. I will admit: A few songs started to grow on me while I listened along with my sister-in-law, though never to the point that I requested them or wanted to listen to country stations. Honestly, most of the songs irritated me.
In January 2015, that changed.
During my stint away from home and in New York City, I missed my fiance, my family, my college friends who would soon graduate and go separate ways. I specifically missed face-to-face relationships. In an environment where it can be better to keep to yourself and make little eye contact, I missed smiling at people on the streets, talking to people in the grocery store, actually getting to know my coworkers like I did in Nashville.
Thoughts of the country music capital of the world frequented my mind as I pounded the pavement back to my beloved 34th Street.
Feeling homesick and tired, I began binge-watching “Nashville” from my laptop, hoping to get a taste of the friendly atmosphere from the summer past. I never planned to watch the show. I mean, “I don’t even like country music.”
But when a tune from Eli Young Band hit my computer speakers on the show’s pilot episode, all preconceived notions about country music went out the door. Instantly I was glued to my laptop—and a fondness for country music sparked.
The song forever changed the way I saw, the way I heard country music, with the way viewers caught sight of green-treed Nashville from a bird’s-eye view, then a glimpse of Teddy, the family man, as he ran around the house laughing with his daughters. A beautiful family feel-good moment with country music streaming in the background created an emotional pull that made my ears want more. I grew to know other artists’ work in the coming weeks and months.
I still won’t classify myself as “Country.” I’m not, and I don’t think I ever could. But in an unexpected way, I realized that country music isn’t so bad after all, and maybe, just maybe, I am a tad southern. Just a little.