Country Music and the Construction of Rural Identities
Music is such instrumental in the society since it evokes the feeling of peace and consolation. In some years back, people thought that songs were meant for entertainment. However, the stereotype has been faced away by the modern ways of perceiving things. Country music, since decade, was composed to talk of the real issues that happen in the society. Streaming from the villages to the urban sectors, the composer included particular things that affected the people directly. Due to this impact, they have been thought as elemental in discussing pertinent themes in the country. Use of images and other elements of literature are strongly employed. Rural geography is, therefore, a clear illustration of the various transitions that people undergo in the community.
In the same veins, it’s important to understand that the real conditions that people pass through forms the basis of which the songwriter choose to exercise their talents. The following paragraphs will discuss the various country music, their relevance, and perception of the people in the respective areas. This goes along with the assertion of Yarwood who propounds that most people feel that there is a difference between urban and rural areas and behaves accordingly. For example, many people have chosen to live in the countryside because they think it offers them a better quality of life, both environmentally and socially.
One of the songs that will be discussed in this paper is the one composed by Montgomery Gentry, titled the “Town.” It intrigued the fans and lovers of the country music. It is grounded on the basis of small town living, where he was raised .The author employs the images of the town’s building, to illustrate to the listeners on nature and the kind of life that the city dwellers undergo through. Furthermore, the imagery of pale blue water tower is used to illustrate the towering buildings that are found in the cities. The songwriter has a strong affectionate towards the life he conducts in town which is an evidence of self-acceptance. The information displayed on this song sheds light on the importance of building and appreciating the immediate residence where an individual stays.
In my opinion, I believe that this country music is composed to teach the people on the need of being loyal to their county. Though the message is designed to look personal, Gentry evokes strong message that attracts the listeners, who loves their land. It goes beyond the individual interests, to that of thinking beyond the confines of attaining personal fame. Interestingly, the songwriter has delved into narrating of the actual representation of the town, which is a sure indicator that he understands what happens around him. Abstractly, the town life is represented as the one which is demanding, ever busy and composed of independence. Ideally, the song is a life lesson to embrace the unison and corporately help each other in accomplishing tasks in life.
“Where corns don’t grow” is another composition by Travis Tritt. The song is ideally written with the intention of explaining and contrasting the lives in the town and that in rural areas. Tritt narrates the rurals by use of images such as grey house and dusty field. The two elements represent the kind of life that is conducted by people in the villages. They depict the simple life of the people in those places. The dust is an indication of agriculture, as the main economic activity. The populace rarely uses the money to buy basic things, since they can be easily accessed from the immediate lands. The grey houses symbolize the use of local materials to construct them, hence easy to buy. However, the transition to the town life complicates the life of this individual, who is represented as the main character. It is affirmed by the line which is said as “hard times are real.” Furthermore, the song writer indicates that he had received some warning before deciding to move to the city. The stanza extrapolates on the hard life that is experienced from places which are far from the rural villages.
The song depicts the environment of fear for city life. It is associated with the struggle for basic things. This goes along with the definition of the “rural-urban fringe” which is illustrated as an area that is under the urban influence, but that can still be considered as a rural setting. The lifestyle here is considered unwelcoming to people who have been used to the village life. Rural places are represented as safety haven, where all things are available. This is not necessarily true, but the song tries to pass the message that villages are hassle-free. Moreover, the essence of security is also included in this country music. They are described as agricultural hinterlands (those areas of rural Canada and other parts of the world where agriculture is the predominant economic activity, and the small towns and villages and communities within those types of landscape tend to be service centers (Mitchell and Bryant, 2009).
“Song of the South” is another country music that was written by Alabama. The songwriter presents the rural life as the one filled with problems, particularly lack of enough funds to support their normal lives. He paints the life of the villages like the one encompassed with struggle and lack of elemental requirements for conducting a meaningful lifestyle. The images of sweet potatoes and cotton growing on the roadside are used, to signify the agricultural activity that predominates those areas. Again, Alabama cites on one of the stanzas that his father picked the cotton but never got rich. The phrase illustrates the theme of poverty.
Irrespective of the people’s effort to work for livelihood, the environment fails to favor their energies. The concept is elaborated by the line which says that the father bought the washing machine, and later acquired Chevrolet. The sudden transition is a clear reflection of how movement from the rural areas to town, can bring about change in the way of living.
Alabama has depicted that village people waggle in pain, due to lack of enough funds to support their lifestyle. The rural environment is considered unforgiving and comprises of the high unemployment rate. Based on this song, people work a lot, with little returns from the agricultural activities.
In summary, country music narrates the real situations through which people undergo in their lives. The songs explain the situations that people are passed through, and some of the song writers goes ahead to offer solutions. In the cases that have been described above, the main theme was the issue of poverty in the villages. The various song writers have explicitly portrayed the urban life as the one filled with joy and material prosperity. Contrary, the rural settings are associated with sufferings due to lack of proper lives. The major source of income is unpredictable and at the same time is low. Music is a paramount tool of communicating the message to the public, concerning a particular situation.