I used to hate country music. A lot. It separated me and my immediate family from our extended family.
They all loved country music. Every single last one of them.
Then, it happened; I discovered alt country. Almost without me noticing it, I was listening to twangy guitars, melancholy and broken hearts. The only thing that reassures me now is that my family would hate the "alternative" part of alt country.
All of my friends were into Wilco. Jeff Tweedy, lead singer, was from Belleville, IL -- about a two hour drive from where we lived. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot became extremely popular when I was in high school. At some point, someone burned me a copy and I bought Being There and Summerteeth. It was a slow process, even with Wilco. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is more alternative than country, and once I became a fan, I started to get into their back catalog, which is more country than alternative.
Oh, Ryan Adams. Rose to temporary mainstream fame in the days after 9/11 because of New York, New York. Nobody Girl was probably the most country song at the time for me -- an epic melancholy ballad of the most country "feel sorry for yourself vibe" I had ever heard. I listened to it repeatedly.
Unfortunately, there were no Youtube links to the most country song I enjoy by the Old 97's, "W-I-F-E" with this lyric:
"I've got my wife, the other women, and the whiskey killin' me
the first two make it so that I see red
the third one makes it so's that I can't see
If I had half a brain left after my debauchery
I'd give up the other women
and the W-I-F-E"
This is real country, complete with "woman" problems, drinking, and twang.
And then to top it off, I don't just have one country love, but two. Its true, both the Old 97's and Bright Eyes skirt around the country label, sometimes twanging and sometimes simply strumming with limited country roots.
But the damage has been done. For someone who once said, "I will never listen and enjoy country music," I listen to a hell of a lot of it.
I am not one of those people that says, "I listen to everything but Rap and Country" because I can't.