Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Wendy Brenner, About a Girl

15 comments:



  1. This article really talks about what the heart of country music is. The author’s sister is described as someone very intelligent that has a weak spot for powerful emotions. I found it interesting how the article mentions the “indescribable” emotions that country music conveys. I really like the Bachelor analogy that she uses; when you know that you’ve found the right one, you can feel it in your gut. The first song I listened to was “The Cajun Queen” by Jimmy Dean. I chose this song because I eat his company’s breakfast sandwiches often, but this song also has some very powerful lyrics in it. The song discusses the fact that the man cannot live without the woman, and that her love gives him life (figuratively and literally): “She found him there at the bottom of the pit / And placed a red-hot kiss on his cold blue lips / He started breathin'.” Relating back to the article, when you find the right one for you, the feeling of love is often so powerful that you cannot describe it. He closes out with the words, “Now the moral of this story has a real clear omen / Don't you ever underestimate the power of a woman,” which not only shows support of female empowerment, but also tells his audience not to underestimate the impact of love. It is interesting how Jimmy talks instead of actually sings in this piece, but rather lets the guitar and harmonica carry the musical melody. The second song I chose to analyze was “Everybody Loves Me but You” by Brenda Lee. This song also comments on the importance of love in life. This love that she receives from her friends and loved ones is important to her, but nothing compares to the love from what she wishes was her significant other: “Yes, I still have my friends / But I don't have you.” Unlike Jimmy Dean, she actually sings this song and the style of the instruments almost seem to allude to the blues style of music. From the songs that I listened to, I believe that it is accurate to say that country music and blues are similar in the way where they both long for something.

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  2. I found it endearing how the narrator’s sister was extremely passionate about blues and country music, and I also was interesting in the fact that Nashville is the home to country music. I also agree with the fact that when you can say exactly why you like a song, it’s just that: you “like” it. But when you can’t put your finger on what you find so captivating about a song, that’s when you know you love it. I listened to Billy Walker because I’ve heard my father mention his name a few times before, although I’m not quite sure what it was about. The first song I listened to was “A Million and One”, which is a song about heartbreak. The lyrics are “How many teardrops have I cried over you”, and Walker’s gentle tones, as well as the guitar and drums, really bring out the emotion in the song. The song is somewhat simple, but sometimes, simple is better in order to convey the message. The second song I listened to was “Charlie’s Shoes”. This song is more upbeat-sounding, opening with whistles and guitar strumming with some drums in the background. The song is about a man who swoops in and takes the opportunity to be with a woman once her lover leaves town. Some of the lyrics are “‘I’d like to be in Charlie’s shoes’, that’s what I always said / ‘Cause he had you and everything tied with a golden thread / Then Charlie left and went away and when I got the news / It wasn’t long till I was walking ‘round in Charlie’s shoes”. “Charlie’s Shoes” doesn’t have many lyrics, but it tells a story. The next verse is about how Charlie’s shoes are “killing” the narrator, who is clearly not wanting to do this anymore.
    The second artist that I chose to listen to was Rosanne Cash, who is the daughter of the famous Johnny Cash. In the acoustic version of her song “Everyone But Me”, it begins with a soothing piano intro, which is played by her husband. The lyrics are “Mother and Father / Now that you’re gone / It’s not nearly long enough / Still it seems too long”. This song is about grief, and that is conveyed through both the instrumental and Cash’s voice. Another Rosanne Cash song that I listened to was “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me”. This talks about love, and Cash sings, “Somebody told you I was so cold and mean / Somebody wants you and don’t want me in between ‘ Somebody hurt you, but baby, she wasn’t me”. The song definitely has an older feel to it, and with the beat and bell-like sounds in the instrumental, it doesn’t sound like a typical country song.
    From what I have listened to, it seems that country music is similar to the blues because it addresses topics such as heartbreak or grief. However, the difference is that it doesn’t exactly encourage action. Instead, it expresses the emotion and how the person feels.

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  3. Mairi
    I thought that this article was interesting and it was cool to read about someone's view of their own sister. Reading about how music seeped into every part of her sisters life and how it affected their relationship, from being embarrassed of her in high school to loving and accepting every part of her as an adult, it really showed the impact country music had on their lives. The first artist I picked was Billy Walker and his songs “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “Down To My Last Cigarette”. The first song had a bit of a sad tone to it with slow chiming in the beginning and an acoustic guitar strumming along in the background with a piano, light drums, and a bass. The lyrics are essentially talking to an ex partner and saying how their relationship seemed so recent even though it was a long time ago. The song repeats the line “Gee, ain't it funny how time slips away” a couple times as almost a refrain. The second song is more upbeat and begins with a plucky sounding guitar riff and once again is written as if talking to a significant other. Walker says “I’m down to my last cigarette” after each stanza where he talks about her not being there and him being left alone, basically them not being together anymore. The other artist I chose was Rosanne cash with the two songs “Seven Year Ache” and “Sea of Heartbreak”. “Seven Year Ache” has a karaoke song vibe to it, basically really upbeat and catchy, with a snare prominent in the back, that, in my opinion, is about a “player” going around and hooking up with anyone, and this girl telling him that he must’ve just ended a long term relationship because there’s no other reason to be acting like that. The second song is a much more mellow song with a medium paced tempo mixed with vocals of a man and woman. The lyrics are about being lost without their lover and comparing that to being lost at sea.

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  4. The article starts off with a list of all the country artists that the author’s sister had met personally. Her sister’s passion for country music grew when she began to work for Barry and Holly Tashian, a married country singer couple. Then, the author continues to explain that “Somehow, by internal radar or smarts or simply following her heart, she has always known how to find her way to the places that feel the most to her like home.” The last paragraph which this quote is from summarizes the whole article by saying that she follows her heart to find something she likes and wants to do. Rosanne Cash’s “Seven Year Ache” has a lighter beat yet a deep meaning to it. This song explains a seven year long love that she had that became a seven year ache when she couldn’t capture the love. On the other hand, “500 Miles” is a slower song about leaving a lover and going on a train. The story of the song does not get any more happier as Cash says “I’m always five hundred miles away from home” and leaves the audience on a sad note. Both songs are about unrequited love, yet the beats make a difference in the way the song is presented. Another famous female country music artist is Brenda Lee. Her song “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” showcases a bright and happy song for the holidays. The lyrics “Christmas party hop” and “everyone dancing merrily” shows joy in the meaning of the song overall. Lee’s “Sweet Nothin’s” shows a bittersweet love that lee had for somebody with a more happy beat, similar to “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.”

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  5. It was interesting to read this article as it wasn’t an autobiography, but rather telling someone else’s story from their own point of view. From being embarrassed to embracing her sister, the author, it is interesting to see the author’s views change. Her sister’s craze over country music led her to move from Chicago to Tennessee with nothing but her dreams. Getting a better start after meeting Barry and Holly Tashian, her love for country music snowballed. This ultimately landed her a job where she could get paid for doing what she loved.
    I chose to listen to Vince Gill’s song “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away” for my first song. This song is steady paced, as the song isn’t happy nor sad. It’s in the awkward middle stage where the artist isn’t sure what’s going on at the moment. Addressing the past, it “gets harder everyday” to keep loving and to keep holding on to the love that originally brought the two together. I enjoyed listening to this song because of the pace and message of the song. The shaking of his voice as he begs the other person to “open up your heart” shows the desperation he has to stay with this person.
    The second song I listened to was “I Walk The Line” by Rodney Crowell. This song is closer to what I thought country music was. It seems like people could easily get up and dance to this song. Crowell reminisces about his youth and what he had with his family. In fact, the first line of the song he takes the listeners back to his childhood, “on board that ‘49 Ford in 1956.” The way he describes being “behind the wheel” goes along with the song, and it feels almost as if we’re there with him.

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  6. I thought the article was an interesting story, and I liked how the girl basically had no hesitation about what she was doing with her life. I like how her brother says, “she has always known how to find her way to the places that feel the most to her like home, places where being a music freak is considered anything but freakish.” I thought the description of why the brother thinks his sister loves country music so much was good as well with the Bachelor analogy. People often say that life has a habit of somehow working itself out, and I think this is a prime example of that saying. The first artist I listened to was The Desert Rose Band - I Still Believe in You. The music feels laid back and calm, with a steady simple drum beat and melodious guitar and vocal paths. The song is about a guy who is starstruck over a girl. There are some suggestions that the girl is uninterested in the guy, yet he is still in love with her. The most “country” characteristic of the song for me was the vocal tones. Otherwise, the song could’ve probably fit several other genres because of how, honestly, plain/simple the song is, but it’s still nice to listen to. The second song I listened to was Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses by Kathy Mattea. The song is about a trucker and his wife. This song is very similar to the last song, but there is more prominent usage of the acoustic guitar with a solo part. The trucker will be returning from his shipment and spending time with his wife.
    From these two songs, country music is kind of similar to Blues and folk music from its depiction of everyday life for common people.

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  7. I thought the disclaimer was really interesting at the beginning. As we learned in class the other day, the country music is made by and for people living around the Appalachian Mountains. The people living here are stereotyped as being unhealthy, poor and kind of the scum of the white population. So I thought it was interesting how the author had to add a note to the beginning like that. The first song I chose was “Wabash Cannonball” by Roy Acuff. The song is about all of the things that a train or the “Wabash Cannonball” would see on it’s trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The name Daddy Claxton that is mentioned in the song refers to a fictional character that died on this train on it’s way to an internment camp. The next couple of lines give the train a double meaning and instead of just an ordinary train, it is now a train representing death. To further prove this the line “No changes can be taken” could mean that once you die there is no turning back for you. The second song I chose was “Guitar Town” by Steve Earle. The song begins with Earle talking about his hometown. He says “Nothing ever happened around my hometown / and I ain’t the kind to just hang around” to show us that despite him living in a boring place, he isn’t the kind of person so just stay there. In the song the highway mentioned seems to be a metaphor for his musical career, as he left the boring town via the highway. On this highway, he travels through truck stops, restaurants, performances, but after his long career, he wants to settle back in his hometown with his wife.

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  8. From the list of Country Artists I chose to listen to Jimmy Dean and Steve Earle. From Jimmy Dean I listened to two of his hits “ The Cajun Queen” and “Harvest of Sunshine”. In “ The Cajun Queen”, he used a harmonica, drums, and a guitar to create a simple and mellow beat. He wasn’t singing the song instead it was like he was telling a story. I believe that this beat or one similar is used in advertisements for either a car or beer company nowadays. In the song “Harvest of Sunshine” he uses a banjo, drums, and other string instruments to create a happy sounding beat. He also adds bells and back up singers to accentuate his voice. Unlike his other song he actually is singing this song(it also songs more like a song than a story(more repetition of words). The other artist I chose to listen to was Steve Earle, and I listened to his songs “ Someday” and “Copperhead Road”. “Someday” was played with an acoustic guitar. It had a simple beat and a slow tempo. Later in the song he added drums and electric guitar and bass. Just like blues music, he uses this song to tell a story and describe his town and his life and how he wants to finally leave his hometown and travel somewhere else. In “Copperhead Road” it starts off sounding like a Scottish song from a battle scene in a movie because of the use of bag pipes. The beat then transitions to drums, a banjo, and a guitar to have a more country sound. Once again he’s telling a story (personal story). I believe its a story about his dad or grandad leaving/running away. Later in the song the tempo of the song speeds up and intensifying to have a more rock and roll feel. It compliments the words well however because while the beat is intense its not too loud or extra to where you don’t listen to the words.

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  9. Kyra
    In Wendy Brenner’s article, “About a Girl”, she writes about her relationship with her “country-music fan” sister. Country music outlasted her sister’s other musical obsessions because it incorporates many different influences and shows generally more intimate emotions. Two artists mentioned in Brenner’s article are Vince Gill and Amy Grant. Vince Gill is an American country singer and songwriter who has recorded over 20 studio albums and charted over 40 singles on the U.S. Billboard charts as Hot Country Songs. Arguably Gill’s two most famous songs are “Go Rest High on That Mountain” and “Whenever You Come Around”. “Go Rest High on That Mountain” is a poignant farewell to a departed loved one. A soft piano opens the song as it automatically sets the mood and ton for Gill’s piece. He penned the first verse, “I know your life on earth was troubled. And only you can know the pain” after the passing of his friend and fellow artist, Keith Whitley. However, it wasn’t until after Gill’s brother also tragically passed away that he was able to finish this song. Listening to the song and reading the lyrics, I can tell how much passion Gill put into his work that focus on wishing others who have passed the best when meeting God. Gill’s second song, “Whenever You Come Around”, is perhaps the most honest love song that Gill has ever recorded. He does a great job expressing his emotions with his lyrics, “I get weak in the knees and I lose my breath” and “I try to speak but the words won’t come”. Gills’ songs are all emotionally enriched with his feelings which makes his music very genuine to listen to. Amy Grant is also an American singer and songwriter who is referred to as “The Queen of Christian Pop”. Two of her most famous songs are “That’s What Love is For” and “That’s What Love is For” was the third pop single off her five times platinum-selling album, Heart in Motion. This song has an upbeat tone is all about the emotion, love. She gets her point across that this feeling is very complicated, yet suppose to be simple as anything else in this world with her lyrics, “Melt our defenses. Bring us back to our sense. Give us strength to try once more”. However, it’s the increasing belief that it’s all or nothing at each turn that’s taken in the process of gaining and maintaining love. Grant’s second song, “Baby, Baby” also has a very upbeat and catchy tune, almost jazz-like. This song also incorporates the feeling of love as it is devoted to her daughter, Millie, show as only six weeks old at the time. She mentions that “Ever since the day you put my heart in motion” describing how much of an impact her daughter made in her life.

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  10. Chloe

    I listened to Rosanne Cash’s “Blue Moon With Heartache” and “Tennessee Flat Top Box.” I was surprised that “Blue Moon With Heartache” sounded far from a country song, it seems to have more elements of jazz than country. “Tennessee Flat Top Box” was the opposite, it was very country in both the vocals, lyrics, and instruments used. I also listened to Jimmy Dean’s “The Cajun Queen” which started out with a harmonica, and included a southern accent and a more country sound. I also listened to his song “Big Bad John” which was very similar to his other song, in the sense that it included country elements. His southern accent and overall vocals matched that of a typical country song. Both had elements relating to country music, but Jimmy Dean’s were more stereotypical to the country genre, while Rosanne Cash implemented other genres of music.

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  11. Jonah
    While reading this I had our discussion from last class in kind about what kinds of people listen to country making the way I thought of the Brenner family different. they did sort of follow the stereotypical country fan family of working class citizens in the south. I thought Rachel Brenner’s life through country music was as expected, a middle class girl with working parents in the south who was different to say the least as described by her brother.

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  12. I thought that this article was a supper interesting story. To be honest I didn’t really learn much about country music through it but of the things I did learn, one thing really stood out to me. I learned that country music is so popular because its about the way it makes the audience feel. Country music tons of different influences and their music tends to be more intimate. My favorite line from the article was when the author writes “Love is always greater than the sum of experiences, but those experiences are all we can see or touch or hear, the only part of love anyone’s ever been able to chart.” I think that line is so significant because as humans, we like tangible things objects that we can hold onto, but with intangible objects, like love there no guarantee those things wont go away.

    Stevie Nicks is the lead singer of the band Fleetwood Mac, a British American rock band. I chose to listen to “Landslide” and “Go Your Own Way.” “Landslide” was written for Nicks boyfriend at the time, Lindsey Buckingham. This song is about a rocky relationship. She talks about climbing the mountains and trying to overcome their problems. In the end a landslide or an avalanche can bring it all down very quickly. Basically she is saying that in a relationship, you have to be careful because a certain misstep and everything can come crashing down. “Go your own way” is about a man who is in love with a women who doesn’t love him back. He sings “if i could, baby, I’d give you my world.” Its really sad because he wants to be with her but she just wants companionship not love.

    Santana is an American rock band who’s lead song writer is Carlos Santa. I listed to the songs “Winning” and “smooth.” Winning is a very strong and powerful song. He starts off by talking about all the hardships that he’s gone though but in the end everything turns around. He found happiness even after hard times. He sings “I can see the day that I bleed for, If its agreed that there’s a need to play the game and to win again.” He’s basically saying that if he had to go back and do it all again, the pain and the suffering was worth it because he won. “Smooth” is about a beautiful, mysterious woman that Carlos is fantasizing about. In the song he sings “I could change my life to better suit your mood, Because you're so smooth.” “He saying that he would change himself for her to make her happy because he likes her so much.

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  13. In this article the narrator talks about the influence of country music on her sister. The disclaimer made me assume that the girl was just a casual fan who had a deep appreciation for country music. I was mistaken as the girl was not a causal fan and obsessed over the music and artist ultimately becoming “the internet” of country music. I also found it very endearing to find out that the narrator did not actively study country music but ended up learning about the music through her sister’s influence. The first artists I looked into was Fleetwood Mac. My dad likes to listen to their music in the car, one of the songs that stick out to me is landslide. The song is gentle on the ears with a soft guitar as its instrumentals and calming vocalist. The song is about being afraid of change, but ultimately needing to adapt to new times.”Well, I've been 'fraid of changin','Cause I've built, my life around you, But time makes you bolder”. Another musician I looked at was Roy Acuff, he was known as the “King of Country music” I listened to his song “Night Train To Memphis” Overall the song sounded much happier than “landslide”. The songs instrumental came from a fiddle, a bass, and a guitar. The lyrics where about traveling to Memphis to meet a girl. “I'm not kiddin', I'm not jokin', And I'll soon be with my girl, I'm hopin'”

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  14. Mairi
    I thought that this article was interesting and it was cool to read about someone's view of their own sister. Reading about how music seeped into every part of her sisters life and how it affected their relationship, from being embarrassed of her in high school to loving and accepting every part of her as an adult, it really showed the impact country music had on their lives. The first artist I picked was Billy Walker and his songs “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “Down To My Last Cigarette”. The first song had a bit of a sad tone to it with slow chiming in the beginning and an acoustic guitar strumming along in the background with a piano, light drums, and a bass. The lyrics are essentially talking to an ex partner and saying how their relationship seemed so recent even though it was a long time ago. The song repeats the line “Gee, ain't it funny how time slips away” a couple times as almost a refrain. The second song is more upbeat and begins with a plucky sounding guitar riff and once again is written as if talking to a significant other. Walker says “I’m down to my last cigarette” after each stanza where he talks about her not being there and him being left alone, basically them not being together anymore. The other artist I chose was Rosanne cash with the two songs “Seven Year Ache” and “Sea of Heartbreak”. “Seven Year Ache” has a karaoke song vibe to it, basically really upbeat and catchy, with a snare prominent in the back, that, in my opinion, is about a “player” going around and hooking up with anyone, and this girl telling him that he must’ve just ended a long term relationship because there’s no other reason to be acting like that. The second song is a much more mellow song with a medium paced tempo mixed with vocals of a man and woman. The lyrics are about being lost without their lover and comparing that to being lost at sea.

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  15. The article was simple but very insightful, an effective retrospect on how the author’s connection with music was transformed by her sister’s long-standing obsession with country. I have never personally enjoyed country music, but this article made me stop for a minute and consider the massive role it often plays in the lives of its listeners. The breakdown of key moments in the progression of Brenner’s relationship with her sister--all of which centered around country music--was very enjoyable to read. The entire article felt like a thank-you letter expressing Brenner’s gratitude for the role her sister’s “weirdness” played in her life, making her later realize the error in her opinion-obsessed ways and the importance of being your own person.

    I got excited when I saw The Marshall Tucker Band mentioned in the article because I quite enjoy their style of country rock music. I listened first to the very popular “Can’t You See,” a song about the toll of a crazy relationship. The song opens with a do-or-die statement of madness: “I'm gonna take a freight train, down at the station / I don't care where it goes / Gonna climb me a mountain, the highest mountain / Jump off, nobody gonna know.” The lyrics are clearly impassioned, but it is unclear whether the singer deeply hates or loves the mysterious woman he sings of. It is still unclear when the song inevitably ends, fading to silence with the repeating stanza “Can't you see oh can't you see / What that woman lord she been doin' to me / Can't you see oh can't you see / What that woman, she been doin' to me,” though not specifically stating what this woman has done. The implication is presumably that she has done something (or many things) to drive him crazy, but, much like the rest of the song, is vague and leaves the listener wondering about the true nature of the situation. The second song I chose from The Marshall Tucker Band was “Fire on the Mountain.” It opens with a series of twangy guitar riffs, leading into the opening lyrics of “Took my family away from our Carolina home / Had dreams about the west and started to roam / Six long months on a dust covered trail / They say heaven's at the end / But so far it's been hell,” creating a stereotypically American, Wild West-esque setting. The song’s structure and lyrics resemble that of a ballad, telling the story of a man who (mistakenly, as we find) decides to pick up his entire family and move to a state he has very little knowledge of outside of rumours and tall tales. The song’s story bears some similarities in plot to the eternal ballad “Streets of Laredo,” telling of dance-hall girls, a man who was shot, and a sad ending of things that could have been. The second artist I listened to was Emmylou Harris. I first listened to “Long May You Run,” a song about the ending of or a significant change in a long-term relationship. Though this does in some ways read as a breakup, it seems to be a mutual one, with Harris singing “We've been through some things together / With trunks of memories still to come / We found things to do in stormy weather / Long may you run / Long may you run / Long may you run.” This song is more bittersweet than some others I listened to, bearing memories of a better time but also looking forward to the future. The second song I listened to also had to do with a breakup (much of Harris’s popular music did) and was called “I’m Movin’ On.” This was much more clearly a frustrating experience for Harris, as she sings the lines “You've broken your vow and it's all over now / I'm movin' on.” This certainly suggests that the relationship ended badly because of infidelity, but the tone is triumphant, as if Harris is reclaiming her independence.

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