Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Essay on Country Music

Essay on Country Music

Whether the song is one of war-time, peace, or just plain admiration and love for America, country music has always set an ideology of patriotism. One reason country music does this is because it represents a class of America that has historically set a precedent of pride in America. This would be the working class, also known as the backbone of America. These are the Americans that work hard in their jobs and in their lives. Everything they own they have given their sweat for and because of this reason their love of America is something of a spectacle. The working classes live a very real life and therefore their beliefs reflect this realism. Although country music is formed on beliefs held by the working class, it has won new fans that are not part of this group while maintaining its true ideology. Country music is a form of realism that expresses the ideological support of everything that is America. Patriotism as a love for one's country is a prominent ideal of the working class and is accurately reflected in their genre of country music.

Patriotism is defined by many as the love, devotion, and willingness to sacrifice one's self for their country. A majority of this patriotic sentiment stems from nostalgia of simpler times and wars fought to preserve the way of life in America. The American dream is still very much alive within the lyrics of country music and gratitude of this idea is inscribed in the emotion of the songs. Country artist take their love of America very strongly and have a history of lashing out against those who oppose their county and its actions. Time of war is usually the cause for this to happen. While artists and fans do not want war, they do feel strongly that Americans should support their government and their troops. They understand the devastation and grief that war can bring, but they do not think Americans should protest a country that has given them so much. Whether country artists are inspired by tragedy, war, or the absolute beauty of America, the love and support for the country they hold so dear to their hearts shines through.

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Country music is simple yet powerful and contains the ideals of the class of people it represents. Melton A. McLaurin says in her piece "Proud to be an American," "commercial country music was produced for the white working class of America...it is hardly surprising that patriotism is a central theme" (23). Artists understand the values and ideologies of the people they are singing for, and therefore are able to gratify their audience. An ideology is defined as a common set of beliefs held by a group of people. William Dean Howells would say that for this reason country music has had its success. In his piece "From Criticism and Fiction" Howells states, "Their sort of success is not only from the courage to decide what ought to please, but from the knowledge of what does please" (254-5). Howells would also feel that country music is a form of realism simple because it reflects a community that is very real. In other words, country music is music for the hard working people of America and reflects their way of life and beliefs. Three artists that share three very different songs of reflection and patriotism are Alan Jackson, Merle Haggard, and Aaron Tippen.

The first of these artists, Alan Jackson, has recently released a song about emotions felt after hearing and seeing the attacks on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001. This powerful song is entitled "Where were you." Jackson hits home with the line "where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day." Americans all over the country could relate to these words, thus providing a sympathetic audience. Jackson's piece while very patriotic is more of a tribute to that day. He wrote it as a healing process for himself and in honor of those lives lost in the tragedy. "Did you burst out in pride for the Red, White, and Blue, the heroes who died just doing what they do," are lyrics included in the song honoring those who died while simply doing their jobs. Jackson expressed love as his answer to ease the pain of the day. While this song mourned the loss of those who fought bravely it had no trace of protest to the reaction of the American government. This type of song is not unusual in country music. McLaurin gives other examples of similar songs in "Proud to be an American," and after states, "the song contains no hint of protest: the loss, though painful, is accepted as necessary" (27). Jackson understands that and relates the ideology that dying for one's country is sad but still an honor.

The next example of patriotism in country music comes from the legend Merle Haggard. "Fighting Side of Me" is a piece written during the Vietnam War era. During this time protests against the war and American government were prevalent across the nation. Haggard wrote a song representing the ideology working class and their anger of the protests. McLaurin states that Haggard's were that these people "loved America's advantages but were unwilling to fight for the country" (26). Haggard held nothing back and bluntly sang "they love our milk an' honey, but they preach about some other way of livin'." Haggard felt these people were hypocrites and were dishonoring the men who had fought and died to keep their way of life. He challenges these people by singing "An' I don't mind 'em switchin' sides, an' standin' up for things they believe in. When they're runnin' down my country, man, they're walkin' on the fightin' side of me." While Haggard's song "in your face," it does accurately reflect the feelings historically held by the working class of America against those who disagree with the actions of their country.

A final example of patriotism in country music can be seen in Aaron Tippen's song "Stars and Stripes." Tippen's song reflects the pride of the American day-to-day life and the beauty of the country. These ideologies are felt by the working class at all times, not just in times of war and tragedy. Tippen's song accurately represents the gratitude held by this class that creates such strong feelings of patriotism. Howells would agree with Tippen's song writing. He states, "apply their own simplicity, naturalness, and honesty to the appreciation of the beautiful" (253) in his piece "From The Editor's Study." Examples of this in Tippen's song are seen in his lyrics. He sings, "it's a big ol' land with countless dreams, happiness ain't out of reach, hard work pays off the way it should, yah I've seen enough to know that we've got it good. Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle fly." The appreciation and nostalgia of the simple American way of life is evident in this piece of music. Tippen uses common ideologies held by his fans to praise a country they all know and love.

Country music has and always will be music written from the ideologies held by the working class of America. While this is certainly true, a growing number of fans across the country and from all classes of America have been drawn to this patriotic genre of music. All Americans are able to see the wholesome values that are expressed in the lyrics of country songs. It feels good to take pride in a country one was born and raised in. During times of war and hardship, so many famous people protest the American government. Country artists are some of the only images in the media that Americans can turn to for support and love of America in these times. Often these people are scared and anxious about the days to come, and country music is there to comfort their fears.

Patriotism in is defiantly a major theme in country music. This works because it accurately represents the ideologies held by the class country music represents. The working class of America loves their country and they work hard to ensure that they preserve the way of life they cherish so dearly. Simple nostalgia and the American dream are still alive within these Americans. Time of war and tragedy cannot shake their patriotic views, and might even deepen them. Country music is the expression of the heart and soul of every true American.

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