This is Country Music

If you’re anything like tens of thousands of other high school- and college-age students across the country, you’re looking forward to attending dozens of country concerts this summer.  These concerts mean mingling with old friends, meeting new ones, and tailgating the day away in the hot summer sun.  They mean tan lines, laughs, and endless photo opportunities.  And for some people, they mean listening to country music.

There are many stereotypes surrounding country music and those who perform and listen to it.  It’s all banjos and fiddles; every song is full of “yee-haw’s” and “darn tootin’s”; only rednecks listen to country.  The fact is, modern country music is composed more of electric guitar riffs than banjo picking.  And, today, a country song is more likely to give its listener a pick-me-up than make his or her mood turn south.

Connecticut’s country radio station, Country 92.5, calls itself “the soundtrack to the American heart.”  I cannot think of a truer statement about country music.  It is the most poetic and lyrical representation of real life that is available to the public.  It is about people who are dedicated, hardworking, family-oriented, and patriotic.  It is about sitting in the front seat of your boyfriend’s truck, driving to meet your friends at a bonfire on the beach.  It is about wearing blue jeans and being barefoot.  It is about falling in love and thinking about that special person until you fall asleep at night.  It is about being an American.

So do yourself a favor and give country music a chance.  If you’re nervous about trying out a new genre, start by listening to more mainstream artists like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Brad Paisley.  For a more honky-tonk—and yes, maybe a little more redneck—style, venture off to Toby Keith or Gretchen Wilson.  If you want to hear more classic country, George Strait is your best bet.

When you’re tailgating at a local country concert this summer, make an effort to listen to the great music that surrounds you.  It’s guaranteed to make you want to celebrate life.

This post was originally published on Tumblr on April 19, 2013.

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