Saturday Selects: The beauty of country music

ImagePhoto Credit: News Generation

For all you newcomers, and there are A LOT of you, Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write the first Saturday of each month in which I discuss something other than books. This will be my fourth in the series.

I have to be honest with you guys. I sat here at my computer with my blogging playlist playing away and I couldn’t come up with anything I thought was worthy of a post. I’m talking over an hour I did this. I even smacked my head against the armrest of my chair once or twice. But I ultimately decided on country music because, duh it’s amazing, and also because Blake Shelton is tweeting EVERYONE right now. It’s one in the morning here. So let’s get into it.

Before I begin, I’d first like to let you know that I am OBSESSED with country music. I’m not exaggerating one bit. Let me tell you how I first got into the genre because I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here before. And if I have, well I still like the story. So let’s rewind back to the end of 2009. I was in the midst of my senior year of high school. And I met this girl. I won’t tell you anything about her except that she loved country music. Maybe not as much as I do now, but she listened to it far more than anything else. Anyway, my birthday comes at the end of the year and us both being in high school, well a real birthday present was all but out of the question. So she gave me a nice handwritten letter. A pack of gum. A candy cane (for Christmas). A picture of her with her snowman, it had snowed in Houston for the first time in years! AND a list of country songs for me to download and listen to. Let me tell you, this is still the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten. All of those seemingly meaningless things. I STILL have the list she gave me, the picture, and the letter. Don’t ask me why because you can likely assume the correct answer to your own question. It took me a few weeks, but I finally downloaded the songs, it was 18 in total, and put them on a CD and played them in my car. Over and over and over again. That’s how I fell in love with the genre, by listening to a few random country songs on repeat.

I haven’t spoken to you in years, Desirae, but I thank you for introducing me to country music.

Now let’s talk about what makes the genre so great. First, and I know you’ve probably heard this before, EVERY song tells a story. Every single one. I’ve heard songs about suicide and breakups and abuse and partying and having children and everything in the middle. Tell me, have you heard a pop song recently that talks about children? I haven’t. But I also don’t listen to the genre too often. Or what about losing someone close to you? I’m sure there are songs out there in other genres, but you ALWAYS get great stories by way of country music. Always.

I mean, it simply does not get any better than a country love song. It doesn’t. Pop “ballads” are rarely ballads. But I’m not only talking pop, though. Hip-hop, um no. R&B, huh? Rock, does it even exist? I’m not here saying that other genres don’t produce some good music, I’m saying there’s far more to a song than how much radio airplay and downloads it gets. I’m actually a fan of Bruno Mars.

Lastly, one of the major knocks on country music today is that it’s gone so far into the direction of pop. Shut up. Right now, without utilizing the internet, can you tell me just five country singers you consider to be pop country? Just five. Of course I can, but can you? Leaving out Taylor Swift. If you can’t then you’ve just made my point for me. Country music has simply evolved. It doesn’t sound the same as it did 10, 15, or 20 years ago. But if it’s gone pop, then how has George Strait managed to stay relevant over the course of three decades? Or Reba? Or any of the other artists who have been around since long before some of the newcomers were even born. So don’t tell me country music has gone pop, because it hasn’t.

Some of my favorite artists include Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, and George Strait.

If you’d like to read the others in the series, here they are:

Saturday Selects: Blogging amidst your social media

Saturday Selects: Tattoos becoming “mainstream?”

Saturday Selects: Farewell to an all-time great

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Listen While you…Write?

Photo Credit: Fuel Your Writing

I remember thinking of writing this post sometime ago. But then it got lost in the shuffle of other blog posts that I thought were more relevant. But now I’ve gone ahead and changed my mind. I’ve even given it the coveted Monday spot! Supposedly Mondays are the most active days on blogging sites, though my top five days in terms of views have all come on days that are not Monday. Eh. Doesn’t matter.

Anyway, you’re likely still scratching your head trying to figure out what exactly I intend to discuss in this post. The title doesn’t really tell you all you need to know. Fear not, the topic to be discussed is what you listen to as you write. I was reminded of this question when it was asked of me by another blogger who nominated me for a Liebster Award. My initial response and longest post ever can be found here.

Okay. Time for the good stuff. My answer is actually a two-part answer. First, I don’t listen to anything while I’m working on my second novel. The sounds of my house are annoying enough that I have no intention of adding to the mix with sounds of ANYTHING. Second, I always listen to music as I write my blog posts. I typically write them the night before they’re set to go online. For instance, this is Monday’s post being written at 12:45 Sunday night. What music you ask? Well if you’ve glanced at my About Me page then you know that I LOVE country music. Seriously. I don’t care that people say all they sing about are back roads, blue jeans, beer, and trucks. It’s about a thousand times better than pop music. Probably more, actually. I’m always downloading new songs. I listen to my most recent country downloads as I work on my blog posts. It’s currently 11 songs. Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett, and Brett Eldredge are all represented in this batch. I honestly don’t know why there’s a difference between writing a blog post and writing a new chapter. But there is.

So there you have it, I’m either listening to the click-clacking of my fingers on the keys of my laptop while writing a new chapter or I’m jamming to some country music while writing a blog post. I want to know what YOU listen to as you write. Let’s compare, shall we?

Also, I’m going to start keeping you guys apprised of my progress to read 50 books in a single calendar year. I just finished my fifth book of the year. London Bridges (Alex Cross #10) by James Patterson.

2013: What a Year

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2013 was quite the year for me. So many great things happened and 2014 will have to bring it in order to compete. Now let me talk about some of those great things.

College Graduate

There was never any doubt that I’d earn my college degree in recent years since I planned my schedule two years in advance in order to walk across the stage in May of this year. But still, it’s difficult for me to put into words just how great that day really was. I come from a family of eight siblings, I’m the second youngest, and not one of us had been able to complete the task of earning a college degree. Until me. That in itself is something to be proud of, but I was also proud of the fact that I was able to get that degree in my hands in just three years and be the youngest student in my graduating class at 21. May 18, 2013 is a day I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

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First Book

I started 2013 with two very distinct goals. The first was to graduate, which I did, the second was to get started on my first book as soon as the first goal was complete. Well, every reader of this blog knows I managed to accomplish that as well. Less than two weeks after graduating from UHD I began work on my first book. It became a five month long process that culminated in its release on October 29. I just stated above that I won’t be forgetting my graduation day any time soon, well I also won’t be forgetting the day my first book was released. Again, I struggle to put into words what it felt like to hold my own book in my hands. It was a remarkable feeling that hasn’t been tarnished by the fact that several friends and family members still haven’t read it nearly two months after its release. I WROTE A BOOK! That’s all I’m still thinking. And you all know that I’m fast at work on the second.

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One of the low points of the year has definitely been my lack of reading. In 2012 I started and finished 44 books by 17 authors. This year, if you’ve taken a look at my What I’m Reading page, you know that number fell to a miniscule 15 books. I mean, can you blame me for falling behind my reading a bit as I finished my final semester of college and wrote my first book. I’m definitely somewhat disappointed, but it’s understandable. Like many serious readers I think, I rank the books I read. Well, my favorite book that I read in 2013 was Nine Dragons (Harry Bosch #14) by Michael Connelly. It currently ranks in at #15 on my overall best books list.

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Entertainment

Those of you who read many of my blog posts know that I typically talk solely about my book and writing. Well, why not change it up for the last post of the year? My absolute favorite movie to be released could only be a literary adaptation, right? It’s easily Catching Fire. By a longshot. Something that you guys don’t know is that I am obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence. Yes, I know I’m supposed to be this professional author and all of that, but she’s perfect and I’m in love. Not to mention the fact that she dominated the year.  She needs a Twitter so I can tweet her everyday.

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You guys also probably don’t know that I am obsessed with country music. My favorite song that was released this year was probably Beat This Summer by Brad Paisley. This was a tough call because there weren’t many songs that I REALLY liked.

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Lastly, I’d like to wish every one of you a happy new year. I’m sure it’ll be one for the record books.