Of A Reflection Paper

Of A Reflection Paper-76
The lyrics were modern, the rhythm was more infectious, and the singers were my age or younger.

The lyrics were modern, the rhythm was more infectious, and the singers were my age or younger.

Once I crossed the Bay Bridge and started exploring the East Bay, I discovered a bit of ranch life.

Just a few miles away from my son's school were several ranches, their locations made even more obvious by the ranchers who strode into the town's smoothie store, wearing their 10-gallon hats, well-worn cowboy boots, and spurs.

I even opened my driver's window, unashamed to share my musical choice with the hipsters of the college town.

I became curious about the roots of country music and started exploring the legacy singers: Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, June Carter, Merle Haggard.

There were small boutiques, family-owned seafood restaurants, and a couple of good community theaters that attracted some top-flight talent in the region.

Everyone looked to Manhattan for their cultural inspiration, and ranchers, cowboy hats, and open spaces were absent from the music and general lifestyle.They were real spurs and a necessary part of their job.Surely, I thought, he was lacking in sophistication. In talking with him, I learned he had a graduate degree in animal husbandry from a major university and ran his ranch at a profit, using as much technology to manage it as he needed. Western life was not a bucolic way to hide from the real world. This quiet rancher provided a good portion of the local meat for the region, a complex and ongoing responsibility.Their songs, which I had spurned and muted while I worked at that country station in the late 1970s, had new meaning.I had met the people they sang about, saw the land, and had gained a new perspective and respect for the people who live in that wonderful, vast portion of the United States that stretches under the big skies of the West.As a college student, I had only lived in the Northeast, spending my entire life in Connecticut.As a bedroom community of New York City, my hometown was quiet yet somewhat sophisticated.Western life was a continent away, and I didn't think I could stand being a part of it.Following college, I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco, still a sophisticated city that had no open spaces or ranches.Not only did they sing about Western life, but they also sang about everyone: people who hurt, loved, lost, and exulted in their lives. In re-examining my view of country music, I had to take the long road.A change in residence, new experiences with people who represented the core of country music's meaning and message, and reopening my mind all played a part in awakening a true appreciation for the genre. More than simply allowing me to add to my musical repertoire, it allowed me to be unafraid to take a second look at other preconceptions I carried.

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