I've been trying to help some of my online pals understand the allure of country music.
Granted, today, sometimes it's hard to tell the country from the southern rock or the hip hop except by if the singer is wearing a hat or not... but the older country, now, that's a different story.
And those songs were stories. They told you about how that ugly old Strawberry Roan (Chris LeDoux, if you're curious, and Strawberry Roan is the song title) couldn't be ridden, or how he tried to make it to the rodeo on time, and failed.
Those songs told about Momma and Daddy and how they always told their kids to stand tall and deal straight, or all about that little girl down the road and how in love he was with her.
They gave dating advice and life advice and while they accepted that young men and women were going to get wild and go out and have a good time they never advocated anything more serious than a little foolin' around on a bench seat, or a few beers.
If you're interested in that kind of stuff, Chris LeDoux, George Strait, and Garth Brooks will give you a nice mainstream start, and you can branch out from there.
The real old country, the true beginnings of country, told stories of cowboys lost in stampedes, that party at the railhead where Jim got his lights knocked out, whiskey and women and riding for the brand. Cause those songs were written by cowboys, sitting around a fire on a drive, trying to keep from dying of boredom, or riding herd all through the night, trying to stay awake.
I've heard honest to goodness old cowboys, cattle drives and bunkhouse kind of cowboys, singing the songs they learned in their youth. It sends chills, let me tell you.
But truly, the thing that I love about country is that the older stuff, the story songs, can be replicated by anyone with a decent hand at a guitar and a passable singing voice.
Maybe it's me, but I don't think that folks should always have to pay a cover to get entertainment, and some of the best times I've had were accompanied by a six string acoustic, not a sound system.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the new country too. Some of those songs are just fun.
Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band, for instance.
XXL by Keith Anderson is another one.
Well, here's a couple from Trent Willmon that will show you what I mean. If you don't smile or tap your toe watching these, I will surrender:
Beer Man and Dixie Rose Deluxe's