My previous exposure to country music was limited but it was there. This was not the music of choice in my house growing up, it was my mom who listened to Van Halen and U2. However, my aunt was and still is a diehard country fan.
I remember going camping with my aunt, uncle and cousins and on the way up they would be listening to Alabama, Randy Travis and I don’t know what else, but those are what I remember specifically. This week Blake Shelton’s team on The Voice performed “Mountain Music” by Alabama and I still know some of the words! I’ll have to tell my aunt that, she would be so proud. I also remember rockin out to “Achy Breaky Heart” with my her and my cousin, afterall, it WAS the 90s!
Some family friends are big country fans as well, and that was (and is) the only thing on the radio in their truck. This was more toward the late 90s that I spent time with them and I remember hearing Shania Twain and that type of stuff. Oh what I wouldn’t give to raid theirs or my aunt’s CD collection! My iTunes library would probably double its current size if I copied everything they all have, but that truly is my plan. Other than that, I didn’t have anyone else sharing their country music interests with me.
Sometime in 1999 or 2000, I must have seen the video for Faith Hill’s “Breathe” and loved the song. I didn’t purchase the whole album, just the single (still have it). That was definitely my first country music purchase right there! That’s more of a crossover hit, but hey it caught MY attention, otherwise I may never have heard the song. In the summer of 2000 we rented a beach house in Newport Beach, and my buddy and I would watch VH1’s top 10 countdown just to catch the video for 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite,” and also saw Faith Hill’s video for “The Way You Love Me”. Faith was everywhere at this point because of the success she earned from “Breathe”, but unfortunately she never seemed to quite catch the magic again. I read that it was because they pushed her to be too much of a crossover hit and it alienated her original country fanbase. It’s a shame, though, because she still has an incredible voice and she’s absolutely gorgeous.
Sometime in the early to mid-00s I somehow discovered CMT and I think another music channel. For some reason I really liked Shania Twain’s “Gonna Getcha Good” video and constantly looked for it. I also somehow caught wind of a few Toby Keith videos, in particular “I Wanna Talk About Me” and “I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight.” The videos are pretty funny (yet cheesy) and of course the songs are infectous. So I purchased Toby’s Pull My Chain and Shania’s UP!, and still have them today. One of those two albums were my first full country album purchase, and within the last year I have gotten a few more of their albums. And as luck would have it, one of them was also my first country concert (a blog for another day)!
I always used to say that I hated country, with the exception of a few songs. Its interesting to think about it now and see how obsessed I am with it now. I wish I had gotten into the genre a long time ago so I wouldn’t feel l like I missed out on a lot of stuff. I noticed that country music (or maybe its just country radio) tends to move forward very quickly. The big acts are always releasing a new single, a new video, touring, on TV, or putting out a new album. You do not see that in rock music, usually the old dinosaur bands I like take years to release any new music.
This constant change is exciting and always gives you something new to listen to and look forward to, but the downfall to that is the media forgets what happened yesterday. After a few months a song that was played constantly is hardly played again. Thankfully I don’t have to hear Eric Church’s “Springsteen”, but damnit I wanna hear “Pontoon”! I think a big part of it is that the two local country stations have a “new country” format, and they play almost the exact same songs. But this is something I am learning and still trying to figure out.