Column: Finding a little place in the countryLife takes you funny places sometimes. Every once in a while you look up and wonder about the decisions that led you to where you are. Why are you do you live where you live? Why do you work the job you work? Why are you sitting in a casino theater surrounded by teenage girls screaming for an American Idol winner and a country star who looks like he might have shaved for the first time right before the show?
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
Life takes you funny places sometimes. Every once in a while you look up and wonder about the decisions that led you to where you are. Why are you do you live where you live? Why do you work the job you work? Why are you sitting in a casino theater surrounded by teenage girls screaming for an American Idol winner and a country star who looks like he might have shaved for the first time right before the show?
It’s like I imagine Adam Sandler must have felt the first time he dressed as a woman for his new movie, Jack and Jill.
In Sandler’s case, I assume there was a bet involved. My own situation is more complicated.
It’s not like I’ve never listened to country music. I grew up listening to Alabama and the Oak Ridge Boys and Willie Nelson. There was also some Abba mixed in there, which I can neither explain nor defend except to say I was rarely given control of the radio before I was old enough to cut my own food.
Through no real choice of my own, I listened almost exclusively to country music for many of my formative years. It wasn’t until Rocky III came out in 1982 that things started to change.
I don’t know if it was that famous guitar riff or Mr. T’s mohawk or just that 8-year-old me had an unusual fondness for jungle cat-themed music, but Eye of the Tiger changed my world. Survivor’s hit was the first non-country song I remember liking – sorry, Abba – and after that it was a whole lot less Randy Travis and more REM. A lot less twang and a lot more rock.
I was OK with that. I moved on. So did country music. We stayed in touch through mutual friends like bluegrass, but mostly we went our own way. Country music became a mainstream sensation with huge stars like Taylor Swift, and I listened to other kinds of music and went to work for a small community newspaper. So, you know, we’ve both been doing pretty well.
Things started to change this year, though. Thanks to my involvement in Rotary, I helped put on something called Ramble Jam, a country music festival that took place last month at the Dakota County Fairgrounds. And the thing about putting on a country music festival is, you kind of have to listen to country music. I spent more time than I ever would have imagined in a bar named for noted terrorist hater and America/bar lover Toby Keith. I bought CDs by country artists and I listened to country radio.
OK, I tried to listen to country radio. I have my limits.
And then there I was on Sunday, thanks to a last-minute invitation, in the audience for radio station K102’s Class of 2011 concert, listening to songs about broken hearts and pick-up trucks and alien abduction. I think. I wasn’t always paying attention.
I don’t claim I loved all of it. I’m not the target market for reigning Idol Scotty McCreery, who was nonetheless a hit among young girls with signs like “Scotty is a Hotty.”
Still, there were moments I enjoyed. Who knows? Maybe I’m finding my taste for country music again.
Maybe it’s time to give Abba another chance.