I picked up a music CD at the library the other day by the Zak Brown Band, a country group that has won a number of Grammys and CMAs over the years. The album was “The Foundation,” one of their first ones. I’m not a “big” fan of country music, but I do have a taste for a certain kind of alternative-folk-americana or what I call country-music-with-an-edge. I like artists like Dwight Yoakam, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keene, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and the Dixie Chicks, to name a few. I was hoping that the Zak Brown Band would fit into that segment. Unfortunately, upon listening to the first song - a light-hearted number called “Toes” - I was immediately put off and did not like it.
It’s not a bad song, really. The guy sings about a carefree day at the beach:
“I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand
Life is good today, life is good today”
So what is wrong with that? Why the negative reaction? Well, for me it is the beer reference. The glorification of alcohol and our whole alcohol-soaked culture that tells people that you need to drink lots of alcohol to be happy or to be cool or to be attractive to women or whatever. It’s a pet peeve of mine.
I decided to give it another try and I picked out another song - one that won a Grammy called “Chicken Fried.” But once again I was turned off.
“You know I like my chicken fried
A cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up”
It’s the same damn song! Got to have that “cold beer” to fit into southern culture. So I popped the CD out and put it away with disgust.
But wait! Was I being fair? Why am I so turned off by beer references in a country song? I don’t have the same strongly negative reaction to a rock song that makes drug references. Was I being hypocritical?
I guess I make a distinction because drug culture is so foreign to me, whereas alcohol culture is seemingly everywhere. I’ve never actually seen drugs that were not on TV or behind a display case. I’ve never done drugs and have never hung out with people who did drugs either. So it has never had a real impact on my life. But alcohol is inescapable. Our society today is totally immersed in it. Most everyone today drinks alcohol. And if they aren’t drinking it, they are talking about drinking it. Or watching TV shows about other people drinking it. Grocery stores and restaurants are stocked full of it. It is the requisite ingredient for any social gather involving two or more people. And most kids today see it as the passageway to adulthood.
And even all of that wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t constantly advertised, pitched and glorified with such constant fervor.
Please! I do not need to numb my brain with chemicals in order to “feel good” and “have a good time.” I can be just as much of a southern good ol’ boy as anyone without having a “cold beer in my hand/on a Friday night”.