I grew up in a very rural area on a farm in Indiana. I’ve stated that before (numerous times), but something I’ve not discussed is how my upbringing influenced my very eclectic musical tastes.
Being born in the Seventies, and growing up in the Eighties and Nineties, it was a time before YouTube, video on demand, iTunes, or any other instance of the conveniences we have at our fingertips today to hear what we want. We had eight track tapes, vinyl records, cassettes, and later cds. We had the radio, we had MTV (which at the time actually played music videos). If we wanted to hear a specific song, we either spent the money to buy the album (or single), or we would sit by the radio and tried to hit record on our tape recorders when our song came on. If a song meant that much to you, you had to work for it.
My musical influences came at me from different, overlapping angles. My mom listened to country music mostly with a bit of religious music thrown in. My dad listened to the “oldies” station, which at that time wasn’t all that old. My friends listened to the “pop” music stations and that was kind of a mix between rock, pop, and R&B. My best friend growing up was in dance classes (she now teaches dance), so I got a lot of music from her…pop, country line dance, etc. I had options to listen to, but looking back, I’d say that I pretty much listened to other people’s choices and absorbed from that.
I spent a lot of time with my mom growing up, and with my best friend’s family, who listened mostly to country music. By the time I was in high school, I was a big fan of the country music of the time. Not that I didn’t listen to other things, but mostly country. Artists like Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, John Michael Montgomery, Lorrie Morgan, and Bryan White were some of the favorites I had at the time (and still listen to today). In fact the first concert I ever attended was Reba. It was the most amazing experience.
My mom listened to a lot of more classic country, like Dolly Parton, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, etc. and I enjoyed that too. My dad introduced me to a lot of music that was from before I was born, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and various other “classic rock” bands. My friends (especially in middle and high school) were listening to Guns -N- Roses, Def Leppard, Whitney Houston, New Kids On The Block, and Bon Jovi.
I took in all the influences I could. But I have to admit, it was high school before I started making my own musical decisions. I jumped on the country bandwagon. In fact, as a freshman, we had to write a letter to ourselves ten years in the future. I wrote myself that I hoped I had become as big of a country music star as Garth Brooks. I enjoyed the music so much then that I wanted to be a part of that world myself.
It has now been 25 years since I wrote that letter to myself. I’ve jumped back off of that coutry music bandwagon. I still enjoy the music I grew up with, but I am not a fan of this newer coutry music at all. Maybe it was the people I was around after high school through my twenties and early thirties, but country music kind of fell off the radar. Rock, R&B, (and later) Rap, and Pop music was the mainstream. Which is a pretty eclectic mix in itself.
Nowadays, country is making a comeback (mainstream wise). Artists Like Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, and Florida-Georgia Line are bringing the genre back to the forefront of today’s pop culture. And with Blake Shelton recently being named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”. Though I am not a personal fan of some of this newer country (I can’t stand Taylor Swift…her catchy songs make me want to pull my hair out even though I don’t have any). But I have spent a lot of time lately listening to the (now classic) country I grew up with.
The resurgance of country music is heartwarming. There are a lot of great songs in the genre that I am glad are getting the recognition they deserve. Amongst the people I know though, a lot of them are just getting into country, both the newer stuff and rediscovering some older songs that I’ve known about for years. I think it’s great that people are getting back into the music of my youth, but (in the words or Barbara Mandrell) I was country, when country wasn’t cool.