I spent Sunday afternoon in our family farm’s shop, refinishing a dresser I found at a local antique store. I’m a farmer’s daughter, yes, and certainly what some would call a “country girl”. But most who know me are surprised when they find this out about me. Maybe it’s because my vocabulary doesn’t include double negatives, or maybe it’s because I don’t like country music. Who knows.
I need to have music on when I refinish anything. It keeps me in the groove and passes the time a little faster. I realized I’d forgotten the ear buds to my ipod, so I was stuck with the shop radio, where I was only able to get one station to come in. Of course, it was a country music station. (After all, I do live in Nebraska, where throwing a rocks ensures you to hit a country music fan.) I can put up with said music for a time, so I left the dial where it was and kept it low in the background. Then my ears perked a little when this came on:
I am weak and he is strong
Me and God
He forgives me when I’m wrong
Me and God
He’s the one I lean on
When life gets hard
Me and God
He’s my Father
He’s my friend
And the end
He rules the world
With a staff and rod
We’re a team
Me and God
Not exactly poetic, but nice to hear on a secular station. Then not 15 minutes later did this song hit the airways:
Cause I’d like to see you out in the moonlight
I’d like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I’d like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
and I’d like to check you for ticks
You never know where one might be
and there’s lots of places that are hard to reach
… I’d like to check you for ticks.
A quick Google search tonight informs me the song is performed by Brad Paisley, a name even I’ve heard of, so he must be pretty big.
I’m not a judgmental person. If there’s anything I learned in my teens was being judgmental gets you nowhere. But I had to pause and think about the strange dichotomy of country music. Both of these are songs are currently on Billboard’s “Hot Country” Top 25, so both must get regular airplay by the same radio stations listened to by like-minded people. I think that’s a pretty fair assumption for me to make. I realize the tick song is supposed to fun and cute, but for me, when it hit the bridge, there was nothing “cute” about it. The lyrics simply bothered me.
Is the typical country music fan, mostly likely conservative and Christian, willing to be okay with both songs? Or should I ask, is the typical country music fan willing to straddle both fences and live in both worlds, simply because their music of choice seems to, dare I say it, promote that riding that fence is acceptable?
I know an older couple, law-abiding, church-going people, who every year have a New Year’s Eve Party with a grab bag gift exchange. Several “dirty” gifts end up in the pot; enough to get lots of laughs out of everyone and embarrass whoever opened the gift. I’ve only been to this party once and was one of the unlucky “dirty” gift recipients. The host couple laughs along with everyone and some of the gifts that are not wrapped (simply in a bag) end up with these not-so-nice gifts, where-in the giver loudly protests “I did not put that in!” Not only do they attend church each week, but the wife teaches Sunday School. And honestly, I couldn’t care less that they host this party, but I do care that they live in both worlds rather seamlessly, and I do care that this doesn’t seem all that uncommon. It’s as if “keeping up appearances” is all that matters, simply so we can have our “tick song” cake and eat the “feel-good about me and God” song too.
Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
– Matthew 5:37