COUNTRY MUSIC, GROSS GENERALIZATIONS, AND MY IMAGINARY WORLD
Several years ago, I was manning a booth at a trade show in a small town, and a group of young people were walking down the aisle towards me. A country music song started playing on the muzak, over the loudspeakers. The three young couples, who didn’t seem to know each other, impulsively joined hands and line-danced down the aisle, in time to the song.
I wanted to stick a knitting needle in my ear and pull it out the other side. That’s just me though; I’m funny like that.
Some people only eat cheese pizza, or they feel there’s a right and a wrong way the toilet paper roll should be positioned on the holder, or they won’t watch Tom Hanks movies because they claim he plays the same character in each film. We’ve all got something, don’t we? With me, it’s country music. I don’t like it. I think country music performers are second-rate rockers who’ve grabbed a cowboy hat and a guitar and settled.
Now, I’m not so closed-minded that I shut out all country music. There are some performers who have been classified as country that I will listen to. Steve Earle is one of them. Why? Mostly, because he’s Steve Earle, and that’s enough. And then, there’s John Prine. Mr Prine is considered a country performer; I call it folk music, the rest of the world can call it whatever they like.
I met a man once who was wearing a kilt in the middle of November. Being a Scot, and thinking I’d found a Scottish brother, I asked him which part of Scotland he was from. He told me he was German. When I asked him about the kilt, and whether he had some Scottish blood in him, he looked at me as though I’d asked him how much money he had in the bank, and said “No, I just like wearing it.”
His wife told me he wore his kilt every day, no matter what the weather was like. Now, I wouldn’t wear a kilt every day. In fact, I’ve only worn one once, and that was when I was in the wedding party at a buddy’s wedding. But, I admired the German kilt-wearer’s conviction. He didn’t care. It was the most natural thing in the world for him to wear a kilt. He wore it because it just felt good to wear one. That, my friends, is rock and roll.
No, really it is. Now, I don’t know much about country music. I’ll admit that. But, I’ll bet there aren’t any country music performers who would wear a kilt on a day to day basis. Some rockers have though. In fact, I recall the now deceased, Bon Scott, was very fond of prancing around kilted, and then there’s the not deceased, Axl Rose. There’s more too, I’m sure of it. Kilts aren’t the point here of course, conviction is, or maybe gross generalizations are the point, I’m not sure yet, I’m still making this stuff up. Anyway, the kilted German and Bon Scott, and Axl Rose, all had, or have, conviction.
Now, back to the kilt-wearing German, stay with me here, I know this all seems confusing, but it will be crystal clear in the end. What do the German, and the young people line-dancing down the aisle have in common? Nothing. Or, very little anyway. Would the German, line-dance down the aisle? Probably not, or at least I hope he wouldn’t. In my mind, in the imaginary worlds I create, the German is rock and roll, and rock and roll doesn’t line dance down the aisle to country music muzak.
Are these gross generalizations I’m making? You betcha. And, I’m allowed to do that. I actually have licence to do it, because I’m a writer. When I meet you, or someone like you, you are instantly a candidate to be a character in one of my books. The way you speak, the little thing you do with your hair when you’re nervous, or the fact that you wear a kilt; these are all things I can use in the world I’m going to create and put you into.
Have I found my point? After all this murky rambling, have you deciphered what I’m trying to say? Yes, you’re right; I am living in my own little world, with all its gross generalizations, prejudices, and stubbornness. And you know what? I’m allowed to. I can stay here and not like country music, and not go to Tom Hanks movies, and hang the toilet paper any way I want to. It’s my world. I make up worlds. I write books and create worlds. Some people create fantastical worlds; I write about worlds that you might live in, worlds that you can identify with. My novel, My Temporary Life, takes place in Scotland and Canada during the 1970’s through the 1990’s. It’s been called a coming of age/suspense/romance story. Yes, it really has.
If you read it, you’ll find that My Temporary Life, has heartache, despair, love, triumph, and even death, all within three hundred and thirty-three pages, but there’s one thing it doesn’t have. There’s no country music in My Temporary Life. I know that because it’s my world, and I made it up. I’m allowed to, I’m a writer.