Mood Music: Country Cowboys and Banjos

May 28, 2011 at 12:55 am Leave a comment

I love country music. Not really a popular confession, but I mean come on, I’m also the girl who has devoted an entire blog to romance novels, so I think I’ve moved beyond the whole “shameful secret passions” thing here.  But honestly, I’ve never really had a choice in the matter.  For years I tried to fight the urge to listen to those twanging men and women.  I turned to pop, show tunes, anything to save myself from the inevitable, but country music is in my blood–or at least in my water supply–and finally my Southern roots caught up with me.  I went to college up North and came back home more Southern.

See, growing up in Music City, USA–aka Nashville–country music was everywhere.  From the daughter of a country superstar in the grade below you at school, to the family friends who were songwriters, there’s no escaping this force of music.  In Nashville, you can walk into a Starbucks and see a random recording artist just relaxing, reading, and drinking their Venti-non-fat-mocha-cappuccino-thing.  Or you can walk into a sushi joint to see another.  Or the movie theater.  Or your own country club.  Or that time I ended up in Vince Gill and Amy Grant’s house petting their dog when we “kidnapped” them for a YoungLife event.  So yeah.  I really shouldn’t have even tried to fight the draw of country music.

But here’s the thing.  I just spent over 22 hours in the car with my mother road-tripping back from New England to Nashville after graduation, and I have to tell you that after over a day of listening to nonstop country–thank god for XM radio–I now know why I love country music: the stories.

Country songs are not just a random smattering of word that you can’t understand set to a hip dance beat.  Most country songs are narrative.  They talk about love, loss, families, cancer, child abuse, dying, drinking, divorce, cheating and really everything else in the world.  You can listen to a Carrie Underwood song and actually see the story.  To me listening to country is like listening to a really short audiobook set to epic music. And their music videos? Like mini-movies.

In a recent interview with RT BOOKREVIEWS (that I helped work on when I was working at RT this January) romance novelist Kat Martin talked about how country music inspired one of her stories, Against the Wind.  Her hero Jackson is a sexy modern cowboy, who would easily fit into one of my favorite songs along with a steel guitar or even a banjo.  I love me some banjo.  But the thing is–cowboys are super popular in the romance genre, and every time I read a Western romance, I immediately have to listen to some country music.  I know country music is not the most popular genre–but to me, I find the same feeling I get from romance in the lyrics of “Before He Cheats” or “Need You Now” or even “Postcard from Paris.”  You combine all three of these songs and BAM the foundations for an epic romance.

I’m about to start Kathleen Eagle‘s Once a Father, a Harlequin Special Edition about a an “Indian cowboy,” and I know that as I read it, I’ll be thinking of what it would be like set to a little music.  Who knows maybe it’ll be a Brad Paisley song or even a Blake Shelton.  We’ll have to see…

Romantic Question: Do you ever associate music and books like me? Or do you have a favorite genre that puts you in the mood for a little reading?

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Entry filed under: Ramblings on Romance. Tags: , , , , .

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