It’s good to remember in times like these that life will go on after this viral pandemic is through. It might be a different life, but they’ll always be kids, dogs, and country music. In fact, when the world feels too chaotic, country music can have a calming effect.
Who’d have thought that honky-tonk bars and cheatin’ hearts could be so sedating?
I happened on this “aha!” moment driving my grandchildren to YMCA camp before our current crisis had us in lock-down at home. On the way to camp, Clara, my granddaughter, wanted to listen to a radio show for kids called “Radio Lab” on National Public Radio (NPR). Always ready to keep peace in the car while driving with my grandchildren, I dutifully pushed the radio search button looking for our local NPR station.
“Get back Millie (the family dog came along for the ride).”
“How come you don’t like Millie, grandma?”
“I like Millie—I just can’t drive when she’s licking my ear.”
I finally found the NPR station and sat back to focus on the road. All was quiet until a newscaster announced tariffs with China were hurting U.S. trade. Then my grandson slapped his hands over his ears and yelled, “Change the station grandma!”
I hit the search button on the console frantically looking for any radio station my grandkids might like, all the while trying to dodge Millie’s affection. I scanned through classical music, right wing talk radio, and jazz. Each time my grandchildren begged, “Not that station grandma!” Finally I landed on a country-western station: KISS FM. The call sign said it all. The DJ’s were definitely kisser-uppers, happily making fools of themselves to please their listening audience. Before I could press the search button again though, a country-western song came on about a man going through the McDonald’s drive-thru buying his son some Chicken McNuggets. Chicken McNuggets? Really?
My finger hovered over the search button as I glanced in the rear view mirror. My grandkids were strangely quiet. I saw them placidly staring out the back windows as if they were actually listening. Even Millie was riveted by this song, no doubt having something to do with those two magic words: chicken and McNugget.
The song went on about how the dad’s son (his little buckaroo) said a bad four-letter word beginning with an “s.” When the father and his son got home, the dad went to the barn to do some “prayin’” because he realized his potty-mouth had rubbed off on his son. Actually, I thought the dad was being too hard on himself. We all slip up sometimes.
When the song finished I reached over to hit the search button again, and cries erupted from the back seat, “No grandma! Don’t change it!”
It occurred to me then that my grandchildren liked country-western music for the same reason most people do: country-western songs tell good stories.
With that in mind we all sat back to listen to the next tune played on KISS FM. The sage lyrics went:
I got a dog named Waylon
I got a driveway that needs pavin’ …
I got friends in low places
Yeah, life’s what you make it …