Friday, May 23, 2008

Kitten Confessions, Part Three

My name is Kitten, and I am a country music fan.

I know that doesn't seem like much of a confession, and I am really not embarrassed to admit it, but my friends would laugh their butts off if they found out that I loved country music. I will say that I am only very recently a fan; I started listening to one artist and one broadcast of the Opry, and now I can't stop listening.

You see, three of my closest friends sing in a classical music choir. Their repertoire has run the gamut from Porgy and Bess to various Magnificats to Carmina Burana. I myself used to sing with them in another choral ensemble, and I will always be grateful to have sung such incredible pieces of music. If anything, it helped me develop my love for classical music.

I am also a theater geek. I grew up exposed to so many theatrical opportunities. My parents used every opportunity they could to take us to a Broadway-style play or musical; I will never forget our first experience at the Goodspeed Opera House. I was very impressed with the building, although the musical didn't impress me much. (The life of Superman was not a great idea for a musical). Every summer, when my family vacationed on Long Beach Island, my parents would take me and my sister to a musical at the Surflight Theatre. The one year we didn't go was the year that our vacation coincided with the Surflight's production of "Gypsy", and my father was very uncomfortable with his two daughters watching a musical about a stripper. My sister eventually majored in drama at Ithaca College. I attended Fairfield University, and saw Les Miserables, The Lion King, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway. I miss the days when we'd go into the city in the wee hours, park ourselves at the TKTS booth, send someone out to get breakfast, and camp out until the booth opened.

To this day, my friends and I will frequently sing show tunes whenever we get together.

So where did this country music thing come from? Well, it all started when we first got cable when I was ten years old. Spike TV, in its first incarnation, was known as TNN, or The Nashville Network. I watched TNN all the time as a kid, and my favorite shows were Nashville Now and Fandango. Nashville Now was a prime time interview show with Ralph Emery, and occasionally he had this puppet on named Shotgun Red. (As a kid my favorite parts of the show were when Shotgun Red came on, since I am a huge Muppet fan.) And I loved Fandango because it was a game show, and I was obsessed with game shows. (See Kitten Confessions, Part One for more information on this).

I don't remember much about Fandango, except for Edgar the Talking Jukebox, and Bill Anderson, the country music singer-songwriter who hosted the show. Bill Anderson reminded me of a grandpa, which was important to me as a kid because both of my grandfathers died by the time I was eleven years old. One of the reasons I liked the show was that I felt like I could watch my grandpa every night. I realize that one cannot substitute a TV personality for a real life person, but fortunately I had parents who made sure I got away from the boob tube every once in a while.

So now, here we are, many years later, and one night I suddenly, without warning, remembered TNN; I honestly can't tell you why, but for a couple of weeks, I was really reminiscing about my childhood. Long story short, I googled TNN and found a couple of links to Bill Anderson, one of them being his official website. I did not realize that this man was such a prolific songwriter. I figured I would see if iTunes had a couple of his songs--and there were about ten albums worth (even though five were greatest hits compiliations). I downloaded a couple of songs, "A Lot of Things Different" and "Still".

Let me tell you, this man can write a song. It actually tells a clear story, from beginning to end. And contrary to what you may believe, not all country music songs are about heartbreak or alcohol. Country music songs tell stories with sophisticated lyrics, harmonies, and a respect for tradition.

One night I learned that the Grand Ole Opry broadcasts via webstream, and Bill Anderson was performing one night, so I listened to that broadcast and discovered another great singer-songwriter: Phil Vassar. He's not yet on the A-list of country music stars, but one day, I hope that he will be. This man can really write a song, too; he really knows how to tell a story. Just take a listen to "Just Another Day in Paradise" or "Six Pack Summer" for some good samples of his work.

I also love, love, LOVE the Dixie Chicks. Yes, I know they have their critics, but they are honest, open, and know how to write a good song. I have three of their albums, and that was even before I really got into country. So what that they said that they were ashamed that President Bush was from Texas--a lot of people share that sentiment right now!!

And finally, I am really enjoying Brad Paisley's music. Here is a man who not only appreciates traditional country music, but also has a GREAT sense of humor. Take a listen to "Online", "I'm Gonna Miss Her", and "Celebrity". If you want to hear some tracks that evoke traditional radio plays, listen to any of the tracks featuring the Kung Pao Buckaroos--George Jones, Bill Anderson, and Little Jimmy Dickens. And make absolutely sure, before this December, that you download "Kung Pao Buckaroo Holiday". It is seriously the funniest holiday song you'll ever hear.

And speaking of holidays, I would like to wish you and yours a happy, safe Memorial Day 2008. I'll be back in a couple of days.

1 comment:

SarahB said...

Seems like we definitely have a few things in common. Broadway, country music, reading...

Give up that tkts and go straight to - no standing on line for hours!