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Country music songs generally have similar themes; love, betrayal, death, drinking, church/ religion, and current events. Some recent country songs have been written about women and their strength without men. The song writers for country music usually have the ability to turn any situation that someone is in into a song. Many of the songs are very realistic and based on real life scenarios; some writers even use their own past and present issues or those that the entire country is dealing with (Candelaria and Kingman).
Country songs being written about current events started as early as 1951 and continued as recently as 2001. In 1951 Gene Autry wrote a country song about General Douglas MacArthur's speech to congress a few short hours after the speech was given. Fifty years later, in 2001, Alan Jackson kept the tradition of basing songs off of current events when he wrote "Where Were You". Alan Jackson's song was based on the terrorist attacks that happened on September 11, 2001 (Candelaria and Kingman).
Patsy Cline's song "I'm Blue Again" is a great example of the way country music songs are based on love, loneliness and heartache. The lyrics tell a short story in which Pasty is sad and lonely because a man has left her. At first she says that she is sad, or "blue", because her love has left her. She then explains that he now loves someone else and it causes her to feel lonely. Pasty ends the song saying that her "heart is filled with tears" and she is thinking about the "wasted years" (Candelaria and Kingman). The story told in this song is one that almost any woman can relate to, her lover left her for another woman and now she is dealing with her emotions. This is a country music theme that does not change with time.
Brad Paisley's song "Whiskey Lullaby" is a great example of country music that is about loneliness and drinking. The song is about a woman who breaks a man's heart. He was so hurt by her that he drank alcohol for years to forget her and eventually he killed himself. The song describes the note that they find with his body, "With a note that said I'll love her 'til I die". As the song continues it tells the story about the woman who broke his heart and how guilty she feels about hurting him. The woman in this song feels so horrible and is so in love with the man who killed himself that she becomes an alcoholic and kills herself. This part of the song describes how they find her body, "We found her with her face down in the pillow clinging to his picture for dear life" (Letssingit.com).
"Gunpowder & Lead" by Miranda Lambert is another good example of a country song. This song shows the more recent theme to country music, women and their strength and independence without men. Miranda Lambert tells a story about a woman whose husband has hit her, has been drinking and has been arrested. In the song right after she says that she can hear him pulling into the driveway and she can hear gravel flying Miranda sings, "I'm goin' home, gonna load my shotgun; Wait by the door and light a cigarette; He wants a fight well now he's got one" (Letssingit.com). Here she is explaining that she is ready to stand up to her husband and that she will not let him hurt her anymore.
There are even websites that instruct people on how to write a country song. The following steps only focus on the lyrics behind country music, not the instruments or the music written to go along with the lyrics. These websites show that there are around five to seven steps to writing a country song, depending on if the song writer is trying to write a sad song or not. Step one is where the writer explores their own feelings and emotions, or the current events that are going on around them. In step one the writer needs to make sure that they are showing the pain, anger or loneliness they are feeling. Step two is where the song writer should know who they are writing the song for and know what type of story they would like to hear. Also the song writer needs to make sure that their audience can identify with the lyrics, they need to be able to connect the song with their own everyday life. Listeners tend to listen to certain songs depending on how they are feeling, some songs make a listener happy when they are sad and some songs they can relate to when they are feeling down or angry. The next step is to form thoughts and feelings into lyrics and make sure that they put a "hook" or "catchy chorus" in between the lyrics. After the writer forms their lyrics they want to make sure that as long as they are not writing a sad country song that they put some humor into the song, to make sure that their audience remembers it. After the writer adds humor to their lyrics they must make sure that they stick to one story, too much happening in one song will lose the listener's interest; however the writer needs to make sure to add detail and description to the song to make sure that it has depth. Next the writer needs to make sure that they take the time to rewrite and perfect the song. However last but not least, the final step listed is to make sure that the writer sings their song when they are feeling depressed, lonely or broken hearted (eHow.com). These steps, most importantly the last one, follow the general themes behind country music.
Natalie Acciani is a great example of a country music singer/ song writer. The show that I went to see was Natalie Acciani at Steel City Café in Phoenixville. Natalie was advertized on a local country music radio station as a new up and coming country music artist. Her performance, especially her lyrics follow the traditional topics of country music. Natalie's music was mainly about love, heartbreak and loneliness. Natalie's lyrics put a new, younger spin on the traditional country music themes; the love aspect of these themes date back to imported and naturalized ballads. Natalie's spin on love stories and events that happened to her shows that like many country music singer/ song writers she can relate to her audience.
Here are lyrics from Natalie's first and currently only album, "I Need The Rain" is the first song on her album. The lyrics tell a story about a relationship that she is in and is trying to get out of and walk away from. "You try to talk, I try to walk, you try to take my hand; You pull me in, I pull away, cause you won't understand; I don't know why, I don't know why I just can't comprehend; Why the means don't justify the end; I say we're through, you say that's fine cause you can't live like this; Another heartache I can add to my impressive list; I don't know why, I don't know why I put myself through this; Misery's hard to resist" (Acciani). These lyrics are about heartache and the hard time that she is having with her relationship.
Another example of the way Natalie's powerful lyrics fall into the country music category is with this song, "Killing Me". "Cause when you look at me and hold me tight' You're looking into someone else's eyes; When you take my hand and pull me in; I know you're wondering why she's with him; And I can't stand being the one you're looking through; And it's killing me, she's the one killing you" (Acciani). This song is about a relationship that she is in, and like so many other country songs, her boyfriend is in love with someone else. Here she is explaining that she can tell when he looks at her he is thinking of someone else and that he is hurting her just as much as the person he is really in love with is hurting him.
In "Fairytale For A Day" Natalie goes against the more current country music theme that women in country music are leaning towards. In this song, although she is talking about love, other women in country music are writing about women's independence from men and Natalie is not. Here she is asking for someone to take her away, to provide an escape even if it is just for one night. "Well if you can take me away, if you can take me to a different place; If you can help me escape, oh; Then we can dance until the sun comes up and maybe even fall in love; These are the words I wanna hear you say; Give me a fairytale for a day. I'm not asking for happily ever after; I don't need a kingdom that is far, far away. I just want a night that's filled with love and laughter; I just want a fairytale for one day" (Acciani).
The last song that Natalie played was "Jake's Song" this song was not about traditional current events but it was about an event that effected her. "Jake's Song" is about a friend of Natalie's who died at a young age. "Cause you had a light inside of you; A light shining through; A light you gave to everyone you knew; And you stood up and dared; To fight even though the fight ain't fair; Oh, but you gave it all you had until the end; And now we carry on the fight for you, my friend. Cause you had a light inside of you; And I bet it's beautiful where you are; And you're making all the angels smile; You've got your wings and now you're watching over us; No more pain, just God's eternal love. Well it makes sense that you're in Heaven now; Cause you were always looking up" (Acciani). This song has the sadness of most country songs and takes a personal experience of Natalie's and turns it into a song that everyone can relate to.
Country music lyrics are generally about love, heartache, loneliness and current events. Natalie Acciani pulls all of these themes together in her lyrics. Not only are her lyrics powerful but she puts her stories into a context that all audiences can relate to, especially those who enjoy listening to country music. These examples show that Natalie's music, if only by the lyrics and themes, is undoubtedly country music.