Blogs by Leslie P Garcia
Low Brows and Bare Feet
9/19/2004 7:33:36 PM
My father fed us big words along with dinner and ...suggested William F. Buckley, Sinatra, opera and classical music for our entertainment. Country music, he claimed, was "hokey," "low brow" and "hillbilly." But my current addiction to the Keith Urbans and Reba McEntires of the world isn't rebellion. Really it isn't.
According to my father, he of the elevated brows and force-of-law opinions, (American) country music was the provice of drunks who couldn't sing. As one might imagine, although strangers and some of his engineer colleagues thought him urbane, charming, and well-informed, he really ticked off us kids.
Due to my father's dictates, although I lived in rural Georgia on a former cotton plantation, country music was better left to the Hester twins, Maida, Becky and...umm...my other friend. I'm pretty sure I had at least one other friend in those rocky times.
Mom dealt with Dad's country music ban by sneaking her Patsy Cline records out when he was at work. I didn't own any country music, though--just Dean Martin records she gave me so that she could borrow later on. Without Dean, and since I really couldn't understand opera well enough to decide for myself that IT wasn't hokey, I spent a lot of time memorizing the lyrics to Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Lowe. (I can honestly say that I've never memorized an actual tune in my entire life, no matter how hard I've tried!)
Anyway, I eventually left home, fell in love with Spanish romantic music, wrote a romance loosely inspired by Argentinian Diego Verdaguer--and then, again, discovered what I'd forgotten--for a few brief weeks after I'd run away from home, I had really, really loved country music.
Admittedly, there are songs that bring back echoes of my father's condemnation. Yeah, "hokey" and corny might occasionally come into play. And I could live without music that glorifies drinking, because bodies pile up along roadways in cities and in the country, and some of my first graders can't keep their eyes open on Monday mornings because drinking is what people do on Sunday.
But all of that aside--country music often speaks to the values that I want, not just for my "personal" kids, but for my students, too. Patriotism and bravery in the face of terrorism--a celebration of a nation whose political actions are not changed by beheadings and car bombs.
There are the songs of faith--and expressions of faith, unabashed and bluntly stated, by so many artists. I heard Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying" not too long after losing my mom and finding out about a potentially threatening illness--how could the lyrics not affect me? And yet, the song is not deafeatist, but offers encouragement--something I don't hear in the other genres, especially in most rap.
There are songs of bitterness, yes, and songs I don't really approve of (even if I occasionally hum them when no one's around) but there are songs about valuing children, and honesty, and the past--while creating a better future.
My youngest daughter is a huge country fan for the reason many young women are fans of this or that--she's in love with at least half a dozen of the male singers. But she's the first to pick up a new Reba cd or to ask if I've heard Martina McBride's latest--and those are women I don't mind a daughter admiring, at least as she sees them through song.
My father probably is turning in his grave, covering his ears these days. The country music channels pretty much go night and day, since neither of us keep the hours we should. And since neither of us sing as well as he did.
But it doesn't matter too much what he thinks now. My children choose their music, and luckily--a lot of it comes back to the honesty, emotion and occasional "hokiness" of country music.
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