My mood is very easily influenced by my surroundings. I feel cranky and down if I'm in a room without natural light; reading articles about war and real life scary stuff makes me incredibly anxious; TV shows and video games that feature dark colors, yelling or violence stress me out; and music that is too aggressive or screams at me makes me tense. To avoid some of these common triggers, I try to surround myself with bright colors, uplifting stories, soothing tones, pretty images and all-around feel good vibes. I know this isn't practical all the time. That real life scary stuff is really important, but I need to keep my inner seesaw from teetering too far in the wrong direction sometimes.
This is how I first started enjoying country music. I came from a family that was totally anti-twang (despite our southern roots), and my wanna-be-punk-rocker self was totally down with the country shaming right up until ninth grade. We spent a week at a condo on Crystal River one summer where I spent the days out in the sun eating popsicles, constantly reapplying sunscreen and reading teen magazines that taught me how to make out. At home I had gotten accustomed to watching music videos every time I was near a TV -- specifically Fuse channel because I was hardcore, remember? So whenever I came inside I surfed through the channels hoping to find some music videos, but with MTV pumping out gems like "Room Raiders" and "Next," my only option was CMT.
Maybe it was because aside from a tear-in-my-beer tune here and there, the songs featured were mostly upbeat, happy party anthems, or maybe it was just because I really listened to the genre for the first time while spending a great summer on a river with my family, but from then on I was hooked. By the time I turned 16, there was a country station programmed into my favorites that hardly ever got played unless I was in the car alone or cruising with a couple of my girlfriends who appreciated it too. Even now, if I have access to cable and it's early enough in the day, I know I can tune in to CMT to see the top 20 videos of the week and that's enough to make my heart happy right there.
To this day I feel like I need to justify my affinity for the genre, perhaps because I still have so many friends who hate it or maybe it's my family's voices echoing in my head going "ewww turn it offfff!!!" But it makes me happy. No matter how simple or cheesy or ridiculous the lyrics are sometimes, I just love that it has the ability to make me smile.
If I'm in a terrible mood and everything seems dark and dismal, sometimes just tuning in to a station that features songs about booze, sunshine, love and honkey tonk badonkadonks is all the motivation I need to stop taking myself so seriously. So that's what we're doing today, friends. We're going to listen to some of my favorite country jams in an attempt to take ourselves a little less seriously and balance out all the other stressors we're dealing with today. I hope you love them as much as I do.