Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Concert

This is the first band--Little Big Town. They sound sort of like Fleetwood Mac, gone country. They were truly excellent, and the guy on the left has a voice that will warm whatever cockles you've got. They are very aware of the Fleetwood Mac comparison, because they came on stage with Carrie and sang "Go Your Own Way," a Fleetwood Mac standard. Did a wonderful job of it, too, even though nobody under forty knew the song!

People look at me funny when I start to say how much I love to hear this little girl sing. I have never been a fan of country music, considering most of it to be blatant pandering to people's emotions, and the whole Nashville thing is as fake and commercial as it can possibly be. I began to (sort of) like (some) country when Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, among many others, tore through the hair sprayed and sequined doors of the Grand Old Opry, and blew a breath of pot smoke among the whiskey fumes. Not to mention a sense of humour.

My parents hated country music, but retained a love of traditional "cowboy songs." My dad could be heard singing "Don't Fence Me In," in his impeccable British accent, and I caught Mom humming "Ghost Riders In the Sky" a time or two. My dad referred to the women who sang country in the sixties as "caterwauling whiners," and asked me why I didn't try that for a career--after all, all it took was a few sequins (OK, a lot of sequins) and some hairspray. No talent needed.

So, after loving Willie Nelson, Guy Clark and Asleep at the Wheel, I was naturally drawn to Bob Wills and other classics like Patsy Cline and Hank Williams. I STILL didn't like popular country.

That has changed somewhat since I've been working for Ramona. She plays the local country radio station in the shop. Not only does she like it, but it reassures our predominately conservative clientele, many of whom have gone to Lucy In Disguise, a very "alternative" costume shop in south Austin, where "Goth" "Rulz!" I'm pretty sure a facial piercing is a requisite to employment there. Here, in Williamson County, people don't go for all that, and it scares a lot of them.

So, anyway, country has grown on me.

When I first heard Carrie Underwood on the radio, it was "Before He Cheats," a marvellous ditty of revenge that just cracked me up! I mean, who hasn't wanted to do this at some time in her life?

"Dragged my keys along the side
Of his pretty little souped-up four wheel drive,
Carved my name into his leather seats--
Took a Louisville Slugger to both headlights
Slashed a hole in all four tires;
Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats!"

I found myself thinking, "Oh, no, girl! Not YOUR NAME!" And when she sings, "Cause the next time that he cheats, it won't be on me," I was thinking, "No, because he'll have a restraining order out on your ass!" And the mental picture you get from "white trash version of Shania kareoke," and "he's putting on three dollars worth of that bathroom Polo," are SO right on the money. (Can you tell that, in my dim and distant past, I've partaken of the soap opera of the bar bands?)

Over the past three years, song after song has moved me to laughter or tears, with the beautiful, soaring voice pouring out of this little girl. I told Ramona a year ago that I would pay money to see her.

I have never before paid money to see a country concert, but I did last night.

I didn't expect to cry as much as I did, but, as they say on the local country station, "you can understand the words." Which is true.

Her show is slick and packaged, with the laser light show and the costume changes (none of which are particularly flattering, by the way), but still. The girl has a voice that will take you places you really want to go.

I do understand the costumes--they are trying to avoid dressing this girl as a tart or a bimbo, because her "image" is that of the girl next door who goes to church on Sunday, but there has to be a better way to do that. The bulky prom dress is a travesty, and denim bloomers are not a good idea on anybody. Put the girl in a pair of jeans and a sparkly blouse. All these costume changes are not needed.

Her voice speaks for itself.

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