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Monday, May 23, 2005

Country music

I forgot how depressing country music can be. I heard a song on the radio this weekend whose chorus went something like, "the day my life ended." It was about teen pregnancy. Maybe that's not the right chorus phrase, just what I'd think of when thinking about teen pregnancy. At any rate, by the end of the song, the singer praised that day as the best of his life. As expected, I suppose, with any contemporary country song, it was pretty schmaltzy.

I grew up around ropers and Wranglers. To define myself, I aligned myself against country music. It wasn't like I was wearing black and listening to The Cure; Soul Asylum and R.E.M. was as hard as I got. But I needed to hate country music to remind myself that I was getting the hell out of Kansas as soon as I grew up.

But sometimes I have to listen, because it makes me nostalgic for the summer when I was 18-20. My co-counselors at camp were big fans. For the younger kids' weekly dances, we'd teach them line dances and two-steps. And when I was 18, I left a lipstick stain on someone's shirt, right above his heart, from slow dancing to, I don't even remember. I just remember the perfect evening spent at a Wichita country dance club, fiercely in love with someone who was not my boyfriend that summer.

And in Chicago, I discovered a divey old Appalachian bar in a terrible neighborhood. Carol's Pub. Where outside you dodged knife fights and inside, the cover band played Johnny, Merle, and George, and, if I requested it by sticking a dollar in their tip jar, they'd play Reba's "Does He Love You?" Best visited after 2 a.m.

The first time I went, I was new to the city, and couldn't believe I'd find a bar that made me feel at home. I went with Bob and Dan, two new friends, and we two-stepped and made out on the small dance floor.

Another time, I ended up there at the end of my first date with the guy who would soon become my boss--and my boyfriend. We bonded over the old school country, and spent the next two years going to alt-country shows together.

Once a friend gave me permission to kiss her husband. They dropped me off at home, and we made out against the trunk of their car while she and another friend were waiting inside. Carol's brings that out in people.

Another, at closing time, 4 a.m., we piled onto the street only to be stopped by a crowd in front of the door. Pushing through, we saw what everyone was gaping at: a girl hoisted on top of a car by the guy who was going down on her.

On second thought, I like country music.


Blogger cilee said...

Oh heavens. This brings back memories.

When people asked why I mainly sand country music I would always respond with "because when I do, people clap". It is true that it is just something inherently bred into the hearts of Kansas people. I love it and I dislike it at the same time.

Funny you should bring this up because this morning I stopped on CMT to watch a video or two and half way through the first one I remembered how sad a country song can be.

But still, there is something so right about someone singing with a tear in their voice and a beer in their hand.

11:57 AM  
Blogger jamie said...

Ack! I love this post.so.much., ellie.

You totally put into words why I, too, tried to align myself against country. It had to do with defining myself like you said, and for me: hating everything my dad liked.

But god, I'm so glad I came back to country. There are so many good memories attached to it for me, too.

Perhaps you heard that, for Fathers Day, I'm making my dad a CD of all the songs he taught us to love? Well while making it last week, I was having a grad ol' time one minute: and the next I started sobbing like a mofo because of all the good memories it brought back for me.

Thanks again for this post, and cilee, i liked your comments, too.

Ellie: sure wish you were here so we could go to Carol's together. I don't know another soul in the city who'd genuinely enjoy it.

3:47 PM  

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