What makes it country

Virginia Russell , Opinion Writer

We’re standing up in our seats, faces lit with excitement. Far below, the stage shines with multicolored lights and beams that crisscross every which way, making patterns on the stadium’s ceiling. All of the sudden, the figure on stage turns toward our section and points up at our minuscule selves, dancing and singing along to every song. We jump up and down and point right back, waving like crazy and screaming at the top of our lungs. THE Thomas Rhett, one of the biggest country stars right now, pointed at us. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life, this coming from a person who once hated country. That’s right. Hated. Country. Whenever my friends would turn on a song or try to make me listen, I’d groan and whine, saying the songs were only about girls, trucks and beer; and on a surface level it sure seems that way. But when I decided to give country music a chance after hearing a certain Thomas Rhett song, my whole viewpoint changed. What never occurred to me was how country would eventually leave such an impact on me and become my favorite type of music. 

Samantha Semelroth and Virginia Russell enjoy the Thomas Rhett concert in Des Moines on September 6, 2019. Jenni Semelroth Photo.

First of all, country music has tons of other components than just standard radio country; it doesn’t have one certain type of sound. It can have a twangy rockabilly sound, bluegrass or a pop-ish component to it. Every day I could listen to different country music if I wanted, be that cowboy country all the way to gospel country. There’s also a great quality of realness to country. It’s never fake-sounding or overly processed. Every part of the song, from the instruments to the vocals; are natural and raw because they come from the singer’s heart. Country songs also tell a story which tie them with patriotism and that’s a big plus for die-hard Americans who want to stay connected to their roots.

But hey, I understand if you can’t wrap your brain around it. Country music just isn’t your thing. Well, think about a family you know. It can be any family, even yours, but it has to be a good one. Think about what makes them a good family. Are they close knit? Do they appreciate and respect each other? Would they do anything for each other, even though they have differences so significant they may not even seem related sometimes? Well, that’s country music. It’s a group of people who are all coming together to make and enjoy music, no matter where they came from. Country can be happy and boisterous, angry and vengeful or just plain sad. But know whatever you like, whether it’s honkytonk or Americana, it’s all connected. Just remember what happened to me when I swore off country. I said never and now I’ve been to three country concerts in the last year. So for all those “country haters,” you better start looking for those Thomas Rhett playlists. Really, it’s just a matter of time.