The man stands towards the back of the bar, his eyes turned towards the guitarman on stage but gazing somewhere else into the distant or not so distant past. There is a kindred connection between the honky tonk stage and those stoic souls nodding and sipping their beers. That kinship has been turned into countless jokes: now you got your dog back and your girl back and your truck back and good times where all you want is your friends all together in low places. All of that happens in the nether, the unspoken spaces, it is the internal connection, and somehow it is all communicated with a slight nod, a subtle raise of the glass, and the unspoken feeling of: “Word“.
We live in a strange world of juxtapositions and catch-22s. Almost anywhere we look our vision is filled with contradictions. Self love vs. Narcissism. Haters vs. Rose colored eyes. There is this sense almost immediately that our culture is stuck in this awful middle ground of an identity crisis. How is it possible to stop caring about what the world has to say about you, stand up for yourself, own your past, but also not make every single story about you, wax essoteric in every conversation, and be told to celebrate your own journey at the same time you are being told to celebrate everyone elses’? For the last almost two years, the world has been completely different than most of us were ever prepared for. Young people have lost entire eras of their development. People have lost jobs, friends, family members, and all of us are more isolated, as a whole, than we have ever really been. Only in hindsight are these huge changes sometimes visible and quantifiable.
So, we end up in this weird place, where to show support or connection or humanity to others, we find stories in ourselves to connect those dots. Humans really have always done so, but we have not always done so in a world where the phrase “make it all about you” is as readily armed by the masses. In reality, the situation is based in loneliness, and people desperate to connect but also feel validated. And our culture is struggling with that as a whole. Look at your social media feeds. It is obvious. Misery loves company. Yeah, that is obvious.
However, one place where perhaps this has NEVER been an issue is country music. As a kid I was surrounded by the memories of the honky tonks. My stepfather rode bulls. My mother loved to dance the night away. And the records of Merle, Waylon, Jones, Robbins – they told the stories of people used to being defined by pain. Perhaps that is why country music had to grow on me. It takes a lot of life punches to be that guy, in the back of the bar, tipping his glass to the Daughter of Country on stage, and say, “Word“. And know that it is not making her story about you. It is showing a connection. It is showing thankfulness. It is showing the human connection of sorrow and loss and misgivings and all of the just-not-knowings: in a word.
Perhaps, the best way then to truly take a look back at the world of a pandemic, and what that isolation and loss does to our human souls – is to listen to a country album. To put that record on, lower that needle, and just feel our heads start to nod. “Word, Megan. Word, Shane. Word.”
Daughter of Country
The Beauty of Resolve and Common Unknowns
Daughter of Country :
My mama was out getting stoned, My daddy he left us to find his new wife, Patsy kept me from being alone, Music was family, was all that I had, Embraced by cigarettes and a dance, I’d hear the band play, dream I’d be there someday, Made me feel like I had a chance, I struggled a lot, Had Trouble Paying my bills, I slept in my car and woke up in the bars. Loretta she gave me my thrills.
Riddle me this. We all know the stereotypes. Especially if we live in Arizona. Country music and country music people do not often mix with the rest of us. So, I find it interesting that there are so many songs about being the daughters and sons of country played to audiences of pull-up-your-bootstraps folk. Just sit on that one for a minute…. I will come back to it.
This album is a human album. It is a cross section of the emotions that are so common to all of us it becomes too easy to overlook and take for granted. But, one of the things that makes that commonality so much stronger with this particular record, is knowing that the entire creation of it – was birthed during a time of global loneliness and isolation. This song is not about that, but that album is, and the songwriting, from lyrics to titles to placement on the record, with Daughter of Country is superb in its craftmanship.
Every day starts to feel the same, I work real hard and drink more, I stay out till 4. I want to be alone. Disconnect the phone. I was made for more. I look around and all I see are the faces of people wishing they were free. So tonight I will pack up the truck and make a run for the hills. I don’t know just where I’ll go. I want to be alone.
Little Birds :
Live this life like your heart always wanted.
There is nothing more constant in this world than change. The little birds will always sing. They figured out how to live together. Maybe we should do the same. What was normal anyway? Word.
Leaving It All Up To You :
I have this glowing ball of a world in my hands. What will I do with it? What will we do with it? What does my life look like? The last time I was in a classroom, I was two years younger. I am stinted. Stunted. I have no idea what to do in a world that just does not make sense. I feel judged by everyone. I get blamed by everyone that only knows how to blame. I am young and free and I want to skate it all away. But it has all been left to me. At least I believe in Band Aids. There is a huge difference in telling young people of today, “Well, when I was young…” (pull up your bootstraps buckaroo!) and, I am leaving it all up to you, because I believe in you. That is a simple, but profound difference. Speaks volumes doesn’t it? Word.
Each one tells a different kind of story of how I’ve come so far. These are MY scars. They’re who WE are.
Perhaps, it is all about connection. Perhaps it is all about making it about yourself. Because it shows that connection. It shows empathy. It shows…. I have Walked In Your Shoes. And I have NEVER walked in your shoes. We are all the same in our difference. The scars that are deep inside. The ones we like to hide. Perhaps….. we ought not be so afraid to share them. Perhaps… that is what is missing. The simple acknowledgement of a subtle nod from the back of the bar. Yeah, Daughter of Country. “Word“.
Oh Lord :
I do my best to smile. I pour my coffee. I turn on the news. Seems like things have been bad for such a long time. No ones looking at each other. Their heads are all down. Oh Lord, take my hand. This is all that I can stand. I can’t bear this burden anymore. Is this all you’ve got for me? If it is, then show me the door.
Do you have the courage to push the moment to its crisis. To ask, like Prufrock, if there will be time, if there will be time. This is the question of our lives. What is the new Normal? Perhaps the only thing holding us back from finding it, living it, breathing it in…… is our own fear to really change the things that felt….. Normal in the first place. Before the world changed and forced us to look at our complacency from the outside. Maybe…. we had it wrong all along, Oh Lord? Maybe….. Word.
Million Lives :
I hate you. You are all idiots. My uncle said this was the flu. I know more than you. I did my researches. I know mauh rights. I just want the world to make sense. Why can’t we all just get along. We just cut each other down to size, hate, fling the punches and dance on soap boxes that reach to the sky.
When you get rolling there is no slowing your roll. You’re out of control. When you get going. There’s no knowing where it ends. Are we still friends? True change is opening your mind.
My lovely wife Karla and I live this song. Far too often. What did we do to the ones we love the most over the last couple of years? What did this upside down world reveal about who we really are? Did it make you closer to your love, or did it drag you further apart? Did it unify you to pursue new heights, or did it punch you into the deepest of lonely lows? Did the pandemic do that? Or did we do it to ourselves, in a world we did not look too deeply into, because we were used to it? It was normal.
Megan and Shane Baskerville are on a journey. They are going to a place, together, and publically, most of us would be jealous of but are too scared to pursue. This record reminds me of this journey. This awful, terrible, painful, beautiful, amazing world – and the person I chose to travel it with. And why…. the new normal is to just be LOW together. This record dares to face that, confront it, and then personally – change it. If we are not too afraid. Word.
Taken This Long :
I’ve had good friends die, but I managed to live | I don’t know how with the things that I did | Don’t get me wrong, I was a kid | But it’s taken this long… | The day that changed my whole life | I read the doctor’s eyes, trying not to cry | I was frail and weak but still strong in my head | I wouldn’t believe the words he said.Do you have more to give? Do you have more to do? WHAT IS STOPPING YOU?
Music is the connective tissue. (Depeche Mode, The Cure, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Marty Robbins. Patsy. Loretta. Blaze, Megan & Shane. Any Questions?) Music is the blood. Music is life…. in focus. Megan & Shane remind us of that on Daughter of Country. The world went into a pandemic and somethings may never be the same. Normal, is nebulous. And we are trying to find it: the pulse that matters, the life we forgot, the breeze, the day, the temperature of something besides our overheated phones. It is about where we feel alive. Where we feel together. Where we feel connected. And perhaps the best way, really, to come to terms with all of those unknowns…. is to set it to music, and sing it to those other wanderers at the back of the bar, and know, that everything will make sense again when we see that suble nod that says everything in one syllable. Word.