If there’s one thing I like doing more than anything else, it’s making my life harder on purpose. That’s why, for the next several weeks, I’ll be embarking on a series of self-set challenges, ranging from things that could actually benefit me to things that are downright stupid.
My music taste is constantly going through phases. In high school it was pop lover-girls like Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift, or RnB artists like the Weeknd and Kehlani. Last year it was mostly indie music like Cavetown, Ricky Montgomery, and Clairo. Recently I’ve been getting into grungy, “teenage angst” type music. ThxSoMuch, BONES, Lil Cobaine, and Hotel Ugly are a few of my faves.
To add onto the list of my music fixations, I’ve had months strictly listening to “dark academia” piano music or “phonk” music that makes you feel like you’re drifting a car.
But there’s one genre that I’ve stubbornly refused to explore, and that’s country.
So for this challenge, I’ll be saying “so long” to my beloved playlists and listening to only country music for 72 hours.
Going into this with absolutely zero knowledge of country music, I decided to ask a few country lovers for advice.
“Something not absolutely terrible,” I pleaded.
Tyler Childs, Zach Bryan, and Johnny Cash were a few recommendations (Cash twice, actually).
So I began my country playlist with top songs from those recommended artists, then used Spotfiy to help me out. Under the “country” section, I randomly chose playlists and added five songs from each, until my curated “yeehaw” playlist was over 3 hours long. I made sure to have a good range of both new and classic country, and a range of titles that made me cringe or I thought might potentially be good.
The day I started the challenge, I had to get up early to go to Dollar General, Dunkin’, and then get started on a photography assignment.
I remember getting in my car and being so nervous to start the playlist, but the idiocracy of me being nervous over some music was hilarious to me. I said “f*ck it” and the playlist opened to Johnny Cash.
I’d like to think I’m a pretty positive person, but the blinding sun and wholesomeness of Johnny Cash lyrics made me want to crawl in a hole. It reminded me of when my mom tries to opens the blinds when I’m clearly trying to sleep until 1PM.
I worked through the playlist the rest of the day, and surprisingly there were a few songs that I instantly had on repeat. “Wild as Her” by Corey Kent, “You Proof” by Morgan Wallen, and “You Should Probably Leave” by Chris Stapleton were all instant bops.
I’m not sure if it’s because I was having a rough week already, or if it was the more paired down, wholesome music that was different than what I usually listen to, but I was solidly in my feels for portions of the playlist. Especially the Tyler Childers and Zach Bryan section. Their lyrics were so real. So dedicated to the people and things they love.
But don’t get me wrong, there were quite a few songs I couldn’t help but send to my friends and make fun of. For example, “Out of That Truck,” by Carrie Underwood, specifically the lyrics “When you’re runnin’ around in that stick shift Chevy, I bet it drives you crazy.” Or “Small Town Me” by Tyler Hubbard, when he sings, “Small town me, I drive my truck, on Friday nights, I push my luck,” and “Small town me likes girls in cutoff jeans and beat-up, pawn shop guitars.”
During a Castleton Spartan meeting, my friend Jess said I was “out here doing God’s work.” I thought that was funny.
You see, it’s not that I’m against anything they’re saying. Trucks are great. It’s good to work hard and love your mom. And jeans are surely a wardrobe staple. But something about the lyrical construction of certain songs made me cringe so hard that it felt like a medical issue.
But full disclosure, I’m a liar and a hypocrite, because it’s several weeks later and I’ve blasted several songs from that playlist, both the ones I loved and made fun of.
Time to go square dancing.