I grew up on rock-n-roll. Despite my parents’ best attempts at filling our house with Big Band music, swing and a little Lawrence Welk on Sunday nights, I eventually got my hands on rock music and loved it.
Early on for me it was Ted Nugent, AC/DC, KISS, Led Zepplin and the Rolling Stones. I’ll admit, I was a little districted by disco (curse you Bee Gees) and I got side-tracked by rap in the 1980s (loved Run DMC and the Beastie Boys) but I was always into rock, even if sometimes I was listening from a good hiding spot.
In the 1990s rock made a resurgence for me with the coming of grudge. Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were some of my favorites.
It was also during this time I was first introduced to country music. At the time I could take some country (Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, Hank Jr.) and others I could leave (anybody remember Billy Ray Cyrus?). But it was something that never really stuck to me.
Today I’ve found myself more accepting of country music and I’ve even found I’ll listen to it without being asked to change the station. I like songs by Jason Aldean, the Band Perry, Sugarland, Little Big Town and Toby Keith.
What I’ve found is there is a recipe for a successful country song and any song with one or more of these elements is likely going to be a big hit.
Trucks — If you write a country song about trucks, you’ll probably have a hit. Take a good ol’ boy (or girl), put them in a pick-up truck and then add some mud and apparently that’s all you need for a good time. Throw in some beer (preferably not while driving said pickup truck) and a BBQ and we got us a hootinanny!
Aldean is pretty good at this genre. He’s had songs about driving trucks down back country roads and about leaving tread marks all over town his last two CDs. I’d say the boy is on to something here.
Toys — If your write a country song about driving ATVs or motorboats, you might have a hit. Like trucks, good ol’ boys (and girls) love their toys. Little Big Town hit it big this past summer with a song about a pontoon boat. Besides trucks, they sing about 4-wheelers, boats and occasionally about a gun or two. Ah! Country living.
Cheating — If you’ve cheated on your significant other, then you might find yourself in a country hit. Taylor Swift’s men should all know by now, if they do wrong by her she’s going to make their life miserable in a song. This is a country music stereotype that goes way back — and its true. The women of country music today, however, don’t often stand by a cheatin’ man, they get even. Carrie Underwood will bust your car headlights out with a baseball bat, while Miranda Lambert’s loading her shotgun and the Dixie Chicks are poisoning your drink.
Isn’t it just enough to say we are never, ever, ever getting back together?