Carrie On Her Soapbox: “Dear Country Music,”

Dear Country Music,

Hi. My name is Carrie, and I have to begin by telling you that I’m a big fan…have been my whole life. I’ve listened to the old greats like Haggard and Jones, through Garth and the 90’s phase, to country’s newest pop-crossover music, and I’ve rolled with the punches and enjoyed each and every phase. I’m also a Tennessee girl who grew up right down the road from Nashville, and I lived in the Nashville area for 14 years after college. I’ve seen Keith Urban at Starbucks, and Tim, Faith, and their girls at the movies. I’ve even seen one of the brothers from The Band Perry buying a pizza in Mt. Juliet while way over-dressed…I mean, leather pants for carry out, dude?

Anyway, all this is to say I’m a big fan, Country Music, but I also ask that you take a step back. I know that country music has always spoken of sex in veiled terms, but they were much better disguised than some lyrics of today’s music. There are two particular song lyrics on the radio today that I have an issue with, and I want to air those complaints so that you might hear me (and perhaps other people or parents out there), and make adjustments accordingly.

So…a few months ago, my children and I were listening to Bobby Bones’ morning show, and he played a then-recent Blake Shelton song called “Mine Would Be You.” Great artist. Love him. Great song. However, as I was blaring the song, I realized that the opening lines are this:

“What’s your all-time high, your good as it gets, your hands-down best ever make-up sex?”

Well geez, about that time my 7-year-old asked what Mr. Shelton had just said. I was scrambling to get her inside school where I would not have to have this conversation. I know there are some parents out there who are more forthright with your kids than I am about discussing sex, drugs, rock and roll, and whatever else. I…am not. Yet. She’s 7. So, I froze. “He said ‘kiss,’ honey. When people who love each other fight and make up, they kiss to say that they’re sorry.” Crisis-semi-avoided. We turn down the volume at the beginning when this one comes on.

So, Country Music, my questions are these: How did you get here? Who is your target audience? Would it bother you to hear your own elementary-school-age children hear or sing these lyrics? Would you then sit them down and have a very frank “birds and bees” discussion because of something you heard in a country song at 8am on a Tuesday?

I was willing to let this go until a more recent Jason Aldean song “Burnin’ It Down” discussed “getting tangled up” and “lyin’ naked in my bed.” Again, this song played in my car on the way to elementary school. I’m fairly certain Aldean gave an interview (which I can’t find online) in which he defended the lyrics (written by the boys of Florida-Georgia Line…hmmm…wonder why they didn’t record that one?), and gave a fairly flippant answer about how he would react about his own children hearing some of this.

So, Country Music, my questions are these: How did you get here? Who is your target audience? Would it bother you to hear your own elementary-school-age children hear or sing these lyrics? Would you then sit them down and have a very frank “birds and bees” discussion because of something you heard in a country song at 8am on a Tuesday?

I don’t mean to call out only Shelton and Aldean; this is an issue that extends to the songwriting community, publishers and producers who are willing to go forth with controversial lyrics of songs just to make money, and the radio stations who are willing to play these lyrics. What is the line? When is enough actually going to be enough? Will the next big country hit use the “f-bomb,” or call the daisy-dukes-wearing country girls “bitches and ho’s”?

Country music has changed in major ways, even in my 36 years, and I applaud most of these changes. Perhaps I am no longer the target audience for country music, but I hope not. I firmly believe that the country music genre, in all its many iterations, unites people… I am proud of all the good things going on in Nashville right now, and I love that my three kids are growing up and listening to some of the same music their grandparents loved. However, I also ask that, in all this hype, that you, Country Music, please take the high road. You used to be a genre that was safe, where I could turn on any song and not worry about the lyrics or what my kids might hear. This is why I keep my gangsta rap for after I’ve dropped them off at school or after they go to bed.

This may sound overprotective to you, and it may, in fact, just be plain overprotective. But I don’t think so. Please don’t cross that line that makes me explain sexual topics to my children in the elementary school drop off line.  Let’s keep those euphemisms for sex vague and veiled, and everybody can just be happy and sing along.

 

The below Washington Post article discusses sex in country music lyrics more in depth.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2014/10/06/jason-aldean-florida-georgia-line-and-the-evolution-of-sex-songs-in-country-music/

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