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Applying Country Music to TheWay – part 3


This post is continuing an earlier discussion of learning to like what I don’t like, and as part of that applying Country Music to TheWay (link), all as part of a greater plan to bolster family togetherness through song, learning to apply concepts such as self-observation, triangulation, etc. Also, though this is not really self-observation, in continuing with the earlier theme, this post will be introspective as it relates to some things I’ve “observed” about my self as well. Just to be clear, it can be pretty easy to get lost in introspection and into intellectual things that can’t be applied, so please be careful if you attempt to duplicate some of my steps as you or  I can quickly find ourselves in  a bad place , rhetor-rick (link).

In attempting to become more “conscious” one of the things I realize is the tendency to take a message and apply it in the same way that I’ve always applied it. For example, someone says Good Morning, I say Good morning without even thinking about it. Use your imagination. In some respects, this could be being the proverbial mechanical man (or tin man as mentioned in the Wizard of Oz). That is, doing things without any thought or consideration as to why they are being done.

Since we are talking about country music as part of a larger theme started in earlier posts of learning to like what we don’t like, we will need a Country song. Since we are talking about messages, I thought I would pick on a song that adorns the bumper on my car. Sometimes to get down a path you need a transition. Willie Nelson is my transition:

Willie Nelson sang part of the song referenced on the bumper sticker, the song has a chorus: “Mamma don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys. They’ll never stay home and they’re always alone even with someone they love.” Wow. What powerful lyrics. Who can’t like that, Right? It contains some sort of deep moving truth it seems, right? Yet, maybe this is because my mom played Willie Nelson while I was in the womb or something.  In a similar capacity, I’ve heard that many black people don’t like country music.  Perhaps there are some associations with the South, slavery, and so forth? Maybe the beat doesn’t work? Maybe some other cultural phenomenon at work. Who knows.  Since this is Willie Nelson, this is an easy song for me to like and therefore it sort of defeats the exercise of learning to like what I don’t like, but it is sort of like starting me out on milk. Perhaps I should try harder.  So I had to find some songs I really don’t like. The latest incarnation of rap mixed with country definitely rubs me the wrong way. Cowboy Troy is an example I think. Do I have some latent racist fragments of my personality that I wasn’t aware of? Oh dear Lord! Maybe not – maybe Cowboy Troy’s songs are just that bad.

Cowboy Troy aside, in exploring this, I had found that I have some relatively arbitrary rule baked into my consciousness that says that the closer one approaches technology or modern life, the more likely that that one is not country and therefore any value derived from such songs is negated i.e., Country Music mixed with Electronic forms of music, i.e., Rap, i.e., Cowboy Troy. Stated another way, maybe hypocrisy is what I’m seeing in many country songs (and probably my self) and this is what I really don’t like. That is, those singing it weren’t really applying it, they were instead good at singing songs about being a cowboy, or singing songs about country music, or songs about being “country before country was cool” and so forth, but when it came down to actually being country and so forth, well, they had become all Nashvilled out (all show and nothing real), or using my arbitrary rule of using modern technology and going on tours and such, they were in effect, not country! Possibly, there are certain things that it doesn’t make sense to learn to like. Is Cowboy Troy’s music one of them? I’m going in circles here, I know, but there is another point. This very same phenomenon could be similar to being intellectual about self-observation this and triangulation that, or Law of Octaves this or that, and not actually knowing what it is!

In trying to break down some of these – in the struggle, I have found it helpful find an opposing view within and trying reconcile it against whatever negative voices I may have within. So I have this rule that is baked into my mind that has a general aversion to country music. Yet, this rule allows for some country music and we really don’t know completely why. I examined different examples and exceptions to this general rule.  We also have that this general rule opposes Cowboy Troy like the plague, which may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Let’s dive in a bit (and avoid Cowboy Troy a bit longer), since I have to do the obligatory posting of lyrics of the song under examination anyway:



Mamma don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys – Waylon Jennings

Cowboys ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold.

They’d rather give you a song than diamonds or gold.
Lonestar belt buckles and old faded levis,
And each night begins a new day.
If you don’t understand him, an’ he don’t die young,
He’ll prob’ly just ride away.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
Don’t let ’em pick guitars or drive them old trucks.
Let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such.
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
‘Cos they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone.
Even with someone they love.

Cowboys like smokey old pool rooms and clear mountain mornings,
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night.
Them that don’t know him won’t like him and them that do,
Sometimes won’t know how to take him.
He ain’t wrong, he’s just different but his pride won’t let him,
Do things to make you think he’s right.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
Don’t let ’em pick guitars or drive them old trucks.
Let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such.
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
‘Cos they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone.
Even with someone they love.


Isn’t this a wonderful song? It seems to bring to the forefront of  my mind images from child-hood, perhaps the great Mr. Jennings and Willie Nelson, and all sorts of acknowledgment of the reality about various ignorant red-necks that may make many black people not like country music. It is difficult for me to not like this song. You are probably wondering about the wisdom of writing about something you like when supposedly the point is to learn to like that which you don’t like. Okay, I admit it – I still don’t want to face Cowboy Troy, so I’d rather talk about a good country song first.  This is sort of like jumping into a cold pool I think. Maybe there is jumping into a cold pool which is one thing, and then there is jumping into a frozen lake and catching pneumonia just for the sake of it, which would be stupid, perhaps by analogy, Cowboy Troy is just too much?

Well, since we started this message speaking about messages and how our minds tend to automatically bring up whatever past associations we may have, we might as well at least finish that subject while we stave off the influence of Cowboy Troy. How about taking the earlier bumper sticker message, and change the message by association.  How about placing it next to a pro-vegetarian lifestyle bumper sticker? Would that alter the meaning slightly?

Oh dear Lord look what I’ve done! I’ve taken an old Waylon Jennings / Willie Nelson song and used it to promote not killing cows, LOL! I bet Willie didn’t anticipate that when he sang this song. Maybe this helps bring home the idea about automatically seeing things a certain way – a way that has been in some respects programmed by culture, skin color, gender, and so on – and in other respects these are the things one must strive to overcome. Just like this arbitrary rule that I have baked into my consciousness about not liking Country Music, and in particular, the music of Cowboy Troy.

This may be applied to time frame even. As of this writing, we are in 2011 and see things a certain way as a function of this time frame.  If compared against 100 years ago, we’d probably seem like magicians if we were to take a time trip. It is difficult to see beyond our culture when immersed in it. In a similar way, it is difficult to see beyond one’s self, when one is immersed in one’s self. As another insight, this implies that to perform self-observation, there needs to be some level of separation within – the observer from the observed. But how? I don’t know yet, but will let you know when I figure it out.

I see that Shohn does not want to face Cowboy Troy just yet. Maybe there is another way. Perhaps I can be of service to others instead and  get another bumper sticker that says: “Mammas don’t let your babies grow up to be Cowboy Troy”.



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