If the Boot Fits

I may be a big city denizen now, but I spent the first two years of my life in Kentucky, before my parents were summoned to New York to take care of my aging and ill great-grandparents.  The move was meant to be temporary, and so they rented out their Kentucky house to a couple who promised to do all sorts of fixing-up in exchange for a lower rent. Soon, however, a call came from a neighbor: those tenants were, among other problems, keeping a horse in the basement.  [True story.]

My parents, seeing the downside of long distance land-lording, decided to sell the Kentucky home and make us resident New Yorkers.  I have been one ever since.

But the damage was done.  Presumably my 0-2 year old self absorbed enough Kentucky culture to make me a life-long fan of country music.  Even before Barbara Mandrell sang “I was country when country wasn’t cool,” I was the uncool country music fan.

I did not know anyone my age who liked country music.  Actually, I didn’t know anyone of any age who liked country music in real life.  I only heard the voices that came through the static on an old AM station from miles away in New York City.

Someone once noted that if you play country music backwards, “You get your dog back, your truck back and your wife back.”  But in addition to its versatility, country music has many other virtues, and I learned them all.

Sure, some singers may overuse rhymes at times, like “Get Off the Table Mabel” or “There’s a tear in my beer because I’m crying for you dear.”  But that’s balanced out by attempts to rhyme “Hank” with “drink,” or “plane” and “New Orleans.”

And maybe some lyrics are a tad cheesy: “He must have stolen some stars from the skies, and gave them to you, to wear in your eyes…” (George Strait).  But those are offset by much more direct “Girl, could ya would ya, ain’t ya gonna, if I asked you, would ya wanna, be my baby tonight?” (John Michael Montgomery) or the much less lyrical: “I’m drunk on you and high on summertime” (Luke Bryan).

In fact, there is a country music song good for just about every mood, need and purpose.

To pick you up with subtlety:

“If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?”—Bellamy Brothers

…And class:

“I’d like to check you for ticks.”—Brad Paisley

…Not to mention witty wording:

“Are you from Tennessee? Because you’re the only 10 I see…”—Shane Yellowbird

And then put you down with sass “like the burning end of a midnight cigarette” (Brad Paisley and Allison Kraus):

“Kiss this…and I don’t mean my rosy red lips”—Aaron Tippin

“I would’ve given you the finger on my left hand, the one that you use for a wedding band, But now I’m givin’ you the one in the middle…“—Sarah Johns

“How do you like that paper plate, and those pork-n-beans you’re eatin’ / Maybe you should’ve thought about that/When you were cheatin’…”—Sara Evans

…in technologically up to date ways:

“Here’s a quarter…call someone who cares”—Travis Tritt

“At the sound of the tone, you’re on your own”—John Schneider  

“When you’re phone doesn’t ring…baby it’s me”—Mary Chapin Carpenter

Then lift you up with a prayer

“I used to have the answers, about how my life should go/And when I said my prayers, I would tell God so…”—Collin Raye

(Sort of):

“Thank God and Greyhound She’s Gone.”—Roy Clark

“I pray your brakes go out runnin’ down a hill/I pray a flowerpot falls from a window sill and knocks you in the head like I’d like to/I pray for you”—Jaron & The Long Road to Love

“Drop-kick me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life”—Bobby Bare

Speaking of prayer, country music also promotes good Gospel values. 

Like honesty:

“Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when I’m perfect in every way.”—Mac Davis

“All my exes live in Texas…that’s why I hang my hat in Tennessee”—George Strait

“Tequila makes her clothes fall off”—Joe Nichols

“I’m so much cooler online…”—Brad Paisley

And unconditional love:              

“You’re the reason our kids are ugly…but I still love you”—Loretta Lyn & Conway Twitty

“You’re the hangnail on my heart…but I can’t bite you off”—Hoyt Axton

(…Or not):

“Jesus Loves You; I Don’t”—Danielle Peck

And chastity:

“Now y’all run along and have some fun…I’ll see you when you get back/ Bet I’ll be up all night…still cleaning this gun” (dad speaking) —Rodney Atkins

“Girl remember what your knees are for” (mom speaking)—Sugarland


“Rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey, Whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky,Rain is a good thing…”—Luke Bryan (Okay, so maybe not chastity…)

The unitive and procreative goods of marriage:

“Come on baby, baby let’s go/Where we get the money honey I don’t know/One more baby’s alright by me/We’ll just add another limb to the family tree”—Daryll Worley

“I’m glad your dad could not resist/Your mama’s charms and you exist/All because two people fell in love”—Brad Paisley

Life-long fidelity (and beyond):

“If the ties that bind ever do come loose/If forever ever ends for you/If that ring gets a little too tight/They might as well read me my last rights…/I told you on the day we wed/I was gonna love you til I’s dead”—The Band Perry

Celebrated with even more witty metaphors:

“They lit a flame with the match God made”—Rhett Akins

“She Made Toothpicks Out of the Timber of My Heart”—Homo and Jethro

“I changed her oil…she changed my life”—Author Unknown

Though sometimes love falls a little short of eternity:

“Going Through the Big D, Don’t Mean Dallas”—Mark Chestnutt

“She Got the Gold Mine (I Got the Shaft)”—Jerry Reed

“Well you took my wife/And you took my kids/And you took that life/That I used to live/My pride, the pool, the boat, my tools, my dreams, the dog, the cat/Yeah I think that’s just about everything/Oh I almost forgot/Do you want fries with that?”—Tim McGraw

But there’s always an apology:

“She’s been walked on, and stepped on, so many times/And I hate to admit it, but the last footprint’s mine…”—Ricky Van Shelton

…Or not:

“Now you say you’re sorry…well honey I agree”—Dierks Bentley

Country music is not afraid to ask the tough questions:

Did I shave my legs for this?”—Deanna Carter

“How am I supposed to miss you when you won’t go away?”—Dan Hicks

“Why’d you come in here looking like that/When you could stop traffic in a gunney sack?”—Dolly Parton

And give profound answers:      

“Sometimes you’re the windshield…sometimes you’re the bug”—Mary Chapin Carpenter

“Tonight we are as young as we’re ever gonna be”—Collin Raye

And advice:

“If you’re going through Hell, keep on going/You might get out before the Devil knows your there”—Rodney Atkins

“You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything…”—Aaron Tippin

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run”—Kenny Rogers

There may be some undue fondness for alcohol:             

“Give me an hour and then…I’ll be as high as that ivory tower you’re living in”—Garth Brooks

“You ain’t much fun since I quit drinking…”—Toby Keith

“I can make anybody pretty/I can make you believe any lie/I can make you pick a fight/With somebody twice your size/I been known to cause a few break ups/I been known to cause a few births/I can make you new friends/Or get you fired from work…

And since the day I left Milwaukee/Lynchburg and Bordeaux France/Been making the bars lots of big money/And helping white people dance…/You had some of the best times, You’ll never remember, with me, Alcohol”—Brad Paisley

And even the cups that contain it:

“Now red solo cup is the best receptacle/From barbecues, tailgates, fairs and festivals/And you sir do not have a pair of testicles/If you prefer drinkin’ from glass…”—Toby Keith

It goes on…

“Red solo cup, you’re more than just plastic/More than amazing, you’re more than fantastic/And believe me that I’m not the least bit sarcastic/When I look at you and say:‘Red solo cup, you’re not just a cup (No, no, God no)/You’re my friend, yea (Lifelong)Thank you for being my friend’ ”—Toby Keith

But there’s always repentance and rehab:           

“Help me turn the wine back into water”—T Graham Brown

“The devil takes your hand and says no fear/Have another shot, just one more beer/Yeah I’ve been there/That’s why I’m here…”—Kenny Chesney

And the all-important Designated Driver:

 “Jesus take the wheel…”—Carrie Underwood

And lest you weary of deep conversation topics, there’s always the weather:

“It’s too hot to fish, too hot for golf, and too cold at home.”–Mark Chestnutt

“She’s a Texas Tornado, blowing me away again”—Tracy Lawrence

“There’s not enough rain in Oklahoma to wash the sins out of that house”—Carrie Underwood

“And there’s no two the same/Oh how I wish I could blame/All these songs about rain”—Gary Allen

And everything from economics and employment:

“Everything except my soul has been surrendered/Just to satisfy your fourteen carat mind”—Gene Watson

“Take this job and shove it; I ain’t workin’ here no more/My woman done left and took all the reasons I was workin’ for”—Johnny Paycheck

“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…”—Alan Jackson

To politics and patriotism

“I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today/‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land /God bless the USA.”—Lee Greenwood

And celebrities:

“Someday I’m gonna be famous/Do I have talent? Well no/These days you don’t really need it/Thanks to reality shows/Can’t wait to date a super-model/Can’t wait to sue my dad/Can’t wait to wreck a Ferrari/On my way to rehab

‘Cause when you’re a celebrity/It’s adios reality/You can act just like a fool/People think you’re cool/Just ’cause you’re on TV”—Brad Paisley

And the ultimate truth:

“God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy”—Billy Currington

And lastly, for those times when life (or your neighbor) hands you lemons, and “there’s just one four letter word that will do…”

Love You by Jack Ingram



Featured Photo Credit: By sWrightOsment (Funny Cide) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


One thought on “If the Boot Fits

  1. Oh Grace! That is so funny! I will never look at country music in the same way again! I used to think it was light and a bit cheesy but you have opened my eyes to its true depth! :)

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