Christian Views on Country Music

Welcome! This is the blog of DaveLoneRanger which entails only his commentary on country music, from a Christian conservative perspective. Thus, he takes a dim view of some songs many consider "staples" of country, such as drinking songs. Ye be warned.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Lucky Men" Montgomery Gentry - Wild at Heart

Have you ever heard those songs that are tailored to specific regions? Having not listened to a lot of country outside my listening area, I have no way of confirming that it is a nationwide phenomena. But songs such as David Ball's "Riding with Private Malone," Buddy Jewel's "Sweet Southern Comfort" and Terri Clark's "I Wanna Do It All" all have phrases conditioned to the listening area.

For example, instead of the lyric "but it picked up that oldies show, 'specially late at night" from "Private Malone" replaces "that oldies show" with a local station's call letters. Clark's and Jewel's songs replace their sports teams with the local sports team in my vicinity.

That's how Montgomery Gentry first grabbed my attention with their latest single, currently riding the charts at #17. Instead of being upset at the Bengals losing, Eddie Montgomery led off the song by saying "But last Sunday when my Wildcats lost, it put me in a bad mood." What was so striking about this is, the Cats had just had their hat handed to them in the NCAA tournament, on a Sunday no less. The song's timing couldn't have been better.

Pulling back to take a more general look at the group, one finds once again that, when sticking to Christian principles, choosing among a group's songs is a selective process. There are several songs that carry with them immorality and other such typical fare.

Still as a whole, even some of the wilder songs by the group appeal to me. The mix of Eddie's deep drawling voice and Troy's lighter, wilder voice create a blend that can only be described as rugged, raw and untamed. True, at times their songs are rebellious and vulgar. But at the heart is a more elemental tone, a testosterone-pumping purpose of manhood, not to be rowdy and brash, but to be wild at heart.

Of their earliest works (from 1999 on), I've heard "Hillbilly Shoes" and "Daddy Won't Sell the Farm" which are mostly boasting on what being a country boy is, and don'tcha mess with them country boys.

"My Town" (which is on Patriotic Country, one of my few exclusively country CDs) was an excellent downhome tune, mirrored later with songs such as Podunk.

Although I've never been brokenhearted over losing a woman, "Speed" remains one of my favorites in the Mongomery Gentry repertoire. Admittedly, I don't like the part about how he wants to get rid of his truck because it's where they first made love, his woman and him. Once again, merely spoken casually in passing (to a greasy car salesman no less!) adds to the flippant attitude towards sexual intimacy that is par for the course with most country music songs. Still, the song's tune almost drips with the heartache, and is a good rainy- or bad-day song.

"H*ll Yeah" is where we come to the beginning of the more vulgar Montgomery Gentry songs. And if you've ever had the displeasure of seeing some of the music video, you know the women tearing off their shirts and dancing on the bar in their underwear (and/or bending over to expose parts of their behinds) makes it even worse. This is a song that gets a big fat station-switch when it comes on.

Until writing this entry, I never knew the group contributed to one of my all-time hated songs, The Truth About Men. (Tracy Byrd stole the show with "The Keeper of the Stars, but that's another entry for another time.) Just like Terri Clark's "Girls Lie Too", the song draws on far too many conclusions about the scratching, burping, boozing redneck stereotypes, and leaves as much of a distaste in my mouth as any Gretchen Wilson song you can conjure up.

"If You Ever Stopped Loving Me" gets a little too rock-n-roll for my tastes, and uses some language which I'm not find of, and usually gets the big old switcharoo too, when it comes on, which is not very often lately.

"You Do Your Thing" seems to have the right ideas on military service, disciplining children, actions and consequences, and praying to God. It gets everything right except the big picture. Today's liberal luminaries frequently extol the virtues of tolerance, which is in keeping with this song. It's a "live and let live" kind of thing. The question is, how far to we take or leave this idea of "You do your thing, I'll do mine"? Hey, Iran! You can kill your daughters for the sake of family honor! You can beat your women to death for peeking out from their gunnysacks! You can train more terrorists and send them over to Iraq with weapons to destabilize the region! You can strap crude bombs to your children and send them to their deaths! You do your thing; we'll do ours. Right or Wrong is a bit more absolute than that. Luckily, we have laws that recognize sometimes "your thing" ain't right. On a similar note, the song was relatively flatline; too low, too slow, and it didn't go anywhere of interest. It didn't even crack the top 20.

"Gone" is another one that gets "gone" from the station when it comes on. It rings in as the third unpleasantly rowdy, cacophonous songs from the group.

"Something to be Proud Of" marked a new trend of songs for the group. Hearkening back to "My Town," the story is of a young boy who loves to hear his father's war stories. Eventually, he leaves town on an adventure, and is hit with real life and responsibility. There's part of me that is bothered by the father's words of encouragement not to worry about making minimum wage in caring for his family. The son is worried that his father is ashamed of how he turned out, but the father consoles him that he is working, putting food on the table, and providing for his family. I'm irritated only because I hate to see people become content with just getting by. Granted, sometimes you meet people and you're glad they aren't in a position of greater influence. But surely everyone hears the inner call to make a greater impact in this world; limiting yourself to a high school education and minimum wage jobs (another stereotype of rednecks, probably closer to the truth than others) means greater limits and restraints on being all you can be later in life.

"She Don't Tell Me To" is a brilliant song that, knowingly or not, reflects ideology and psychology being taught by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The main point being, don't nag or harangue your husband into doing what you want; love and reward him into doing it. The message of the song is exactly that; the wife is so loving and dear to the singer that he's in home early from Saturday night outings with "the boys," and in the pew on Sunday morning. My all-time favorite line:

And she don't even know that she keeps me lookin' for the next right thing to do, cause she don't tell me to


Men aren't that hard to figure out, really. And this song sums it up perfectly. We're not animals to be punished or rewarded. But any human responds more to positive feedback and reward than negative shaming and nagging.

Montgomery Gentry then took on a redemptive air with "Some People Change" which, like Carrie Underwood's single "Wasted," extols the virtue of rejecting the destructive lifestyle, whether the vice is racism or alcohol. The song will no doubt breathe some life and hope into the lives of those whose struggle is with the vice itself, but with a loved one's vice.

Finally, we come to number four in the duo's streak of genius; "Lucky Man." In the country counterpart to Pollyanna's Glad Game, the singer steps back from a bad-day groove and examines his life as a whole. And surprising to find, his life really isn't that bad. He is married to a good woman, his parents are both still alive, his job is treating him well, and each day is another day given to him to be his little boy's father.

There's no doubt that Eddie and T-Ro are living lucky (read: blessed) lives. Currently, they're riding a lucky streak on the charts also. Let's hope they take a hint and steer away from the more raucous revelry while not losing the lush yet untamed sound to their songs.

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