As a child, country music was my least favorite musical genre. I thought it was only listened to in southern and midwestern states, but it was definitely not a part of San Francisco, Calif. – the area I proudly called home for eight years.
Growing up in California I had a very skewed and naive view of country music and its relationship with the Midwest. To me the Midwest was made of everything I hated: cornfields, people in small towns and country music.
Needless to say, I was very unhappy when I found out at the age of 10 that I would be moving to this dreadful area. My family was uprooting to St. Louis, Mo. Nothing about this move could be good. In my mind, I was moving to a city without a beach or an ocean, and where I would be forced to adjust to what I considered small-town life and worst of all, country music.
Thank goodness this was not the case when I moved. I had no idea just how diverse a place St. Louis was. Some, including myself occasionally, say it is a miserable city. Yes, it was named the most dangerous city in the country this past year, but there is much more to it than that. St. Louis consists of places such as the Hill, known for its Italian culture; the Loop, known for its more eclectic style; and Dogtown, known for its Irish flavor.
But one of the most important aspects to me was the lack of the country music that I had feared so much. I was surprised to find that jazz, blues and rap were the main musical focuses of this city.
In an area famous for producing musicians such as Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, Miles Davis and Nelly, country was some of the last music I would have listened to. The closest I came to listening to country during my eight years in St. Louis was Nelly’s song “Country Grammar.”
I thought I had escaped the country music bug. Little did I know what Ohio had in store for me when I moved there for college.
Sticking with the beliefs I had formed about the Midwest when I was little, I assumed Ohio would be just like Missouri. But we all know what happens when you assume.
Country music invades your life. With my new status as an avid listener, I became forced to explain my new love to friends back home as they blasted Murphy Lee down the highway and I begged them to listen to just one Keith Urban song.
I never thought of Ohio as a state with so many country music fans, but how wrong I was.
Arriving at Miami sophomore year, one of the first questions my roommate asked me was “Do you like country music?” At the time I laughed and replied, “The one type of music I hate is country.” This was apparently the wrong answer as she proceeded to tell me about Country Concert, an annual country music festival in Ohio. Still, I was confident I could avoid any country music influence.
But once again, I found myself completely wrong. I was quickly told that my love of country music would grow. My friends were convinced they would have me listening to it, singing along to the words and even wanting to attend Country Concert.
Well two out three aren’t bad for them.
Over the last year and a half, country music has really grown on me. I find myself listening to Gretchen Wilson (from near St. Louis as it turns out), Big and Rich, Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley and Toby Keith. But I still refuse to go to Country Concert. I am afraid no amount of persuasion will ever win me over on that one.
I realize now that country music has produced great talents such as Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash – although some would say Cash is in a genre all his own.
Country musicians are truly talented and their songs tell stories in the same way rock and roll or jazz tell stories. There exists a different sound to the music.
But despite my new feelings toward this genre, I still cannot believe how quickly my friends converted me to a country music fan. As I sit writing this, listening to Rascal Flatts, I realize how wrong my beliefs of music were as a child.
There are not certain genres that are bad, just misunderstood. We all have our own tastes, and I am now convinced that if I can be converted to a country music fan, almost anyone can.
Even though my friends in St. Louis may not understand this conversion, and it may take me a little longer to convince them that country music really isn’t that bad, I will not give up on trying to convert them.
I may have a long way to go in deepening my country music knowledge, but I am now ready and proud to admit, after years of putting it down, that I, Allison, like country music.