I hated country music for a very long time. I hated it because liking it confirmed my stereotype of a girl living on a small farm in the middle of the woods. I hated it because I thought I was socially above the people who would like the repetitive lyrics and themes often found in radio country.
Then I stopped to listen to the lyrics and themes that were being presented in popular music. I listened to an hour of radio pop and heard the same songs:
One about heartbreak
One about new love
One about sex.
Then I listened to an hour of country music. I heard the same songs.
So I wondered, why was I more tolerant of thematic and lyrical repetition in pop songs than I was in popular country music? The answer was clear and uncomfortable: I didn’t want to be associated with the people who normally listened to it. I did not want to be labeled as a hick or redneck.
Now, if I was reading this article two years ago, I would have immediately been offended. I am not classist I would say, I just don’t like the sound of country music. There is of course validity in that belief, I am not trying to prove otherwise. But what about those of you out there, ones like myself, who decided they didn’t like country before they listened to it? Why don’t you like it? I would argue that, like me, you don’t want to be labeled. No one wants to be. In fact, so many people don’t want to be labeled incorrectly that we over-label ourselves. We put on a label that defies labels: Hipster, alternative, grunge.
All of these words, we use because it is much better to label ourselves “other” than to be stuck with a label we don’t want.
But what we don’t see, or maybe you do and I am behind the times, is that by rejecting a label, we are restricting ourselves. When we push country music away before listening to it because we don’t like the connotations associated with listening to it, we miss an opportunity to find a genre or artist who really speaks to us. Maybe for you the example isn’t country music. Maybe you are a theater major who has never played a sport, not because they don’t like it, but because you didn’t want to be labeled a jock.
Of course, this is all starting to sound too much like High School Musical if I’m being honest.
But there is a reason that movie was created.
Besides to show us Zac Efron show us his moves
and Vanessa Hudgens sing heartbroken.
It was created to show us how confining the labels we put on ourselves can be.
So maybe you will still hate country music after you listen to it. Maybe you will never even listen to it. But try leaving your self defined labels behind and see if you find yourself freer. I’ll be listening to some good ol’ repetitive country if you wanna join.