I’ve blogged before that I’m not all that interested in sports. Not as a spectator. Not as a player. And I think part of that stems from living in a neighborhood where people are so completely over-the-top about sports. You can’t just sign your kid up for a baseball team at the local park district, you have to get him on a traveling team and plan your vacations around his all-star game schedule. And if he plays basketball, you’ll need to sign up for special shooting clinics. And football? Well, he’s going to need a personal trainer at the very least. It’s gotten so bad that parents actually talk as if they are grooming 7-year-olds for college scholarships. But Kenny Chesney has changed my mind.
Now that his “Boys of Fall” is on the radio all the time, I can see the joy in football. Specifically, the team spirit of it all. I know that his song paints a very vivid picture of what a high school football team means in a small town: sports-page clippings on the coffee shop wall, players wearing their game-day jerseys in the hallways at school, calling out “Yes, sir, we want the ball,” and helmets, cleats and shoulder pads. I can see all that in my head without even watching the video. But what I hear when I listen to the lyrics is the message about “I got your number, I got your back, when your back’s against the wall.” And most importantly, “You mess with one man, you got us all.”
When I heard the title of this song, I just assumed it would be a deafening rocker that would serve as an anthem at pre-game pep rallies. I had no idea it would be a country ballad powerful enough to take me from an anti-football mom to the one who’s counting the days until tryouts.
If it was not for Jerrod Niemann’s swift rise to fame, and his very infectious “Lover, Lover,” I might never have heard of Sonia Dada. Neimann remade the group’s 1992 hit, “You Don’t Treat Me No Good,” into “Lover, Lover.” And if it was not for Kenny Chesney’s “Down the Road,” I might not have taken it upon myself to fall in love with Mac McAnally’s music, as he sings the thoughts of a hesitant father on that tune. And really, I might not have paid enough attention to Kelly Clarkson until she andReba McEntire came together for that unforgettable collaboration on Clarkson’s “Because of You.”
When two like-minded artists get together on a song (like, say, Kellie Pickler andTaylor Swift on “The Best Days of Your Life,” or Trace Adkins and Blake Shelton on”Hillbilly Bone”), it makes perfect sense. But when they branch out a little (Taylor Swift and John Mayer on “Half of My Heart,” for example), it always takes me by surprise. And I usually love the results. It’s often the same with remakes of songs I’d never heard of. When Miranda Lambert put Gillian Welch’s “Dry Town” on her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend album, I immediately looked into more of the Americana singer-songwriter’s music.
There are days, though, when I like the cover song and the cover song only, like when Dierks Bentley put the 26-year-old “Pride (In the Name of Love)” on his new album, Up on the Ridge. I already knew the U2 song. Who doesn’t? But I never really paid much attention to it. Never even liked it. Now that Bentley’s singing it, with Del McCoury on vocals, I dig what they’ve done with it.
Some days I am exhausted just looking at the tall, tall stack of CDs on my desk. There is just so much music. But then on other days, like today when I have time to sit and think, I’m so glad that I can stop putting music into neat little boxes. It’s better to have an open mind and let the music come to you.
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Tagged Because of You, Blake Shelton, Del McCoury, Dierks Bentley, Down the Road, Dry Town, Gillian Welch, Half of My Heart, Hillbilly Bone, Jerrod Niemann, John Mayer, Kellie Pickler, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Chesney, Lover Lover, Mac McAnally, Miranda Lambert, Pride (In the Name of Love), Reba McEntire, Sonia Dada, Taylor Swift, The Best Days of Your Life, Trace Adkins, U2, You Don't Treat Me No Good
The day I wrote a blog about how God says no to your prayers sometimes was the last time I talked to my parish’s pastor about country music. It was actually the last time I talked to him, period. He died suddenly yesterday (Aug. 11). And I am struggling with the fact that our last conversation was about country music. I mean, shouldn’t we have been talking about something more reverent? Shouldn’t I have been asking him why bad things happen to good people? Or some other religious question that holier Christians ponder?
On the one hand, I feel like my only bond with Father Bob was a shared love of country music. On the other hand, is that so wrong? Just like me, he loved the music so much. He’d even gone to a few big arena shows over the years, even one of those mega Kenny Chesney shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field. And I have to assume that he wasn’t there for the electric guitar jams and the blazing fiddle solos. His love of the music seemed to revolve around the lyrics. I know, I know. Country has its share of sinful themes. Drinkin’, cheatin’, killin’, temptation, greed and other mortal and venial sins. Outlaw music just wouldn’t be the same without ugliness like that.
But then there’s the other side of country. The songs about repentance, counting blessings, sharing sacraments, seeing the Lord in little things, having faith in Jesus and getting called on home. When you think about songs like that, no other genre could ever come close. If you’re gonna make a priest’s playlist, you need to have songs that really mean something. That is why I know that St. Peter was there to welcome Father Bob, and tell him, “Good ride, cowboy. Good ride.”
Say you’ve lined up Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Zac Brown Band, Kenny Chesney and a whole onslaught of talent from all kinds of music for an outdoor festival. Sounds like a moneymaker, doesn’t it? So how on earth did Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., lose $5 million in three days with HullabaLOU? I could see taking a bit of a loss, but come on. Five million? The president of Churchill Downs Entertainment said that he wanted to create the Kentucky Derby of music festivals (which is a nice goal, by the way) and noted, “When we started out with Derby, it didn’t start out with 155,000 people. And it’s grown for 135 years. Hopefully this thing will grow over the next five to ten years and become something that’s meaningful.” They had hoped to have 90,000 people but wound up with about 78,000. And the lost income from slow tickets, parking and concessions is partly what caused the big loss. They aren’t giving up just yet, though. Organizers say they will try again in 2011.
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