Go ahead and hang your hat on the nail and kick off your boots—this is a long ‘un. (grin)
I detested country music when I was growing up, which is probably odd considering I was a farm girl. Instead I was a rock-n-roller, boogying to 45’s in my pink shag-carpeted room. Disco was cool in the late 70’s and my favorite album in 1980 that I bought with my very own money was Donna Summer’s The Wanderer. Then the second British invasion hit and “cool” to me was wrapped up in the unique sounds of Duran Duran and The Police.
Country? Not for this country girl. I’d rather have a tooth pulled.
My aversion followed me into adulthood. When I’d drive in and out of various listening areas, pausing on a country station never occurred to me. If it did happen, it was because a commercial was on and as soon as the first song hit, I was on the knob immediately.
In the early ‘90’s Garth Brooks almost lured me over to the “other side”—a side where dark denim Wrangler’s, plaid button-down Ely shirts, ropers, and big hats somehow didn’t look altogether bad. I loved his song “The Thunder Rolls” and of course, “Friends in Low Places” was a great sing along at weddings, parties, and even with my future hubby, who in the right hat, looked a little like Mr. Brooks his own bad self. (Don’t believe me? Come over and let me show you footage of our wedding reception!)
But Garth still couldn’t hold a candle to the heart-pumpin’ beats of club mixes, the wanna-be vibe of rap (Hello?! Ice Ice Baby anyone?), or the insightful and humanitarian depths of Sting (who ironically, has been incorporating country sounds into some of his music for years). After Garthamania subsided, so did any interest whatsoever in the world of country music.
When I began chasing Jesus harder, I swapped my listening habits from secular to Christian. God has spoken to me countless times through the lyrics he’s inspired in these artists. And when kids entered my life, I was glad to have a “family-friendly” music track in the background of their growing up.
But now, my twins are 10 ½. Peer influences are gaining a stronger foothold than ever before, though thankfully right now, my girls still seem to care what Dad and I think. This is a crucial time: I can either be a dictator and say “You will listen ONLY to Christian music” and risk a complete backlash when they’re older; or I can say, “Oh, you want to listen to country? Okay, but I’m listening with you.”
Guess which route we took? In fact, Shane loves country and when he first enthusiastically cranked up “Today’s Hot Country” on an hour-and-a half long car trip, I wanted to thump him. But instead, I shut up and listened.
Know what I learned? Kenny Chesney “never wanted nothin’ more” when he got down on his knees and accepted the Lord. Carrie Underwood begged Jesus to “take the wheel” when her life was out of control. George Straight “saw God today” in the things around him.
WHAT?! I thought country music was about cryin’ in your beer, gettin’ in brawls, and getting’ revenge on that cheatin’ no-good man! What was up with all this?! It was a turning point. And I loved the heart I was hearing.
Not all the songs are as “good” as the ones mentioned above, but what I’ve found is that even the ones that aren’t can lead to some good discussion about bad results from sin. For example, take Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name.” I’ve talked to the girls about it under Christ's authority (I Cor. 10:31, "whatever you do, do it for the glory of God"). I've told my daughters, "Man, I love the music and vocals on that song, but did you catch the words?! Whew! Just goes to show you that alcohol and crazy behavior can ruin your life..." and then we'll talk about excess vs. moderation or something like that. (I haven’t quite figured out how to deal yet with “She’s a Hottie” other than turning the station. Any ideas? ;-) )
I’m hoping that by allowing my kids to listen to some (not all) music of their choosing, I’m helping them to be in the world but not OF the world. And oddly enough, country music is helping me do through the life lessons it offers.
Yeehaw! Slow down the hay-wagon, I’m gettin’ on board! :-)