January 4th, 2015
There is a strange similarity between country music and crustaceans.
To attempt to lump all boot wearing, country music loving people into one big group and call it “country” would be just like trying to tell Bubba Gump that shrimp is just shrimp. He would probably answer this silly oversight with an earful that went something like this:
“Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh…shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.”
You may love lemon shrimp while absolutely hating shrimp cocktail.
You may love Willie Nelson and think that Kenny Chesney is just some goof with a guitar.
Image Credit: Still is Still Moving
My point? Country music and the people who define the lifestyle are much more diverse than they appear at first glance. And just as Willie and Kenny are sepearated on the spectrum of country music, so too are the Buckaroo boot wearing citizens of Fort Worth, Texas and the ranchers up in Montana. From the outside, it’s just a big clump of people wearing cowboy boots and cowboy hats and listening to music you won’t find on MTV. Upon closer inspection though, we find out that the umbrella of “country” and the “country lifestyle” just isn’t personal enough.
With this in mind, I set out to better understand the family of country. The word “family” is specifically used because “country” can best be described as a surname that all the individual members use to denote that they are related. For example, Outlaw country and Pop country are distant relatives who have had a fued. With each different subgenre of country music, we can see a subculture of the country lifestyle. After researching the music and researching the lifestyles that are outside of my own country experience, I’ve decided that this blog is probably best divided into 7 different categories: the working cowboy, the rodeo star, the outlaw, the rancher, the southerner, the casual cowboy, and the urban cowboy.
The people within each of the country subcultures may all like Justin boots, and they all might wear Wrangler jeans, but you can put money on the fact that one group will favor a square toe boot with a spur ridge while another will pick a cowboy boot with a rubberized sole and steel toe. One group will want a skin tight pair of jeans, and another will want a gusseted crotch for riding. So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring this family tree of country to see how a cowboy in Montana is different from a cowboy in Tuskegee. I’ll be investigating why they wear what they wear, why the listen to what they listen to, and the factors upon which they build their identities.
Image Credit: Taylor Swift