Welcome back to the inside of my mind, today I’d like talk to you about one of the constant joys in my life – country music.
I still remember the first time I fell in love with country, being a city boy born and bred you get little exposure to the country way of life, and specifically the musical expression largely from America of this genre. It was five years ago, I was age seventeen, driving along in my first car doing about 60 when I turned to one of the pre-sets from the previous owner, and there it was, Don McClean’s ‘American Pie’. Now if we’re being pedantic about it technically ‘American Pie‘ was more folk rock but it was that which led me on my journey to discovering love for the art of country music, so I’ll carry on the story anyway.
After finding out who sung the song I’d loved while driving along carefree, I began to get recommendations from YouTube, the modern day DJ which pointed me in the direction of another artist, a relative newcomer onto the scene, a guy by the name of Luke Bryan and his recently released album ‘Tailgates and Tanlines’. It was obvious by the name I had to check him out and from then I was hooked. ‘Drunk On You‘ was the first song on the album I listen to and it took me instantly back to a fortnight I’d spent just outside of Orlando where I had a childhood holiday romance at just fourteen years old, something about the combination of the music and memory really sunk into me. ‘Muckalee Creek Water‘ describes my ideal Sunday, so much so I added the day that this song described onto my bucket list, a dream I may achieve early 2016 when I visit southern USA.
What is it about country music that really speaks to me?! Is it the way each song tells a bittersweet paradox of young love back in 1920’s southern America coupled with bad habits of self destruction? Maybe it’s my underlying personal desire to spend some time living in a sleepy state in America’s deep south, sheltered from the modern world I’ve grown up with where a local bar is used for a game of pool and conversation rather than free wifi. I’ve always had an interest, love and respect of the quieter, boarding on archaic way of life in places like Atlanta, Georgia – the birthplace of country. However, one thing I know for sure is that the next artist I came across was the man who sold it to me absolutely.
Tim McGraw – the legend that is. Arguably one of the best of all time to come out of the genre, he’s been in the industry recording tracks for over twenty years, dating back to 1994, when I was just baby. Now at aged 48 he’s still gigging up and down the USA, performing with stars such as Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift, most of the time upstaging them in the process! His live performance of Just To See You Smile with Swift shows even now his voice is every bit as powerful as it always was.
When thinking country and if you are looking to see what all this fuss is about, there are other powerhouses in the business you may wish to check out such as Johnny Cash, Brad Paisley, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson or Kenny Chesney. In fact thinking about it Garth Brooks in my eyes is a strong contender for top dog alongside McGraw, but that wasn’t the point. If I am to leave you with one thought or instruction, take half an hour out of your day to go and sit on the grass, or failing that even just before you go to sleep – ignore your texts and notifications, put on your headphones and listen to ‘Sundown Heaven Town‘ by Tim McGraw. Immerse yourself in this wonderfully written album and see if it can’t put you in a state of calm and happiness the way it does for me, every time. Start here with ‘Shotgun Rider‘ and have an amazing evening.
~ Luke Ryan ~