6 Questions For The South From A Country Music Loving Yankee

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6 Questions For The South From A Country Music Loving Yankee

Sunday morning in Boston it was -22 degrees (Celsius) and I was so hungover that I almost didn’t go to brunch. Almost. But I mustered the strength to battle the literal sub-zero temperatures and my vodka-induced headache. You can applaud me for my bravery later. I met up with some friends I don’t normally hang out with very often, and they’d chosen an awesome tapas place for our Valentine’s Day brunch. After a few minutes of sipping water and chatting quietly (read: not quite as loud as I normally am), the food starting coming out. A few sips of coffee and some bites of chorizo benedict later and I was reborn, like a phoenix rising from Arizona.

We approached the topic of how I’d just scored tickets to Pearl Jam at Fenway this summer, both shows, and how I was accepting bribes for people to go with me, although a recent Snapchat spelling error indicated I was accepting brides for tickets, so we joked about what my dowry would be (still open to suggestions). We started talking about all the summer concerts we were already looking forward to, and everyone was hyping up all the shows they had lined up. The girl I was seated across from asked if I was going to Countryfest this upcoming summer and my response was, “Does The Pope shit in the woods?” Of course, I am. She’s never been before, so I was colorfully extolling all the virtues of a highly intoxicated afternoon at Gillette Stadium with 100,000 other drunk Massholes singing along to Kenny Chesney. It’s truly amazing, and ever since that Sunday brunch I’ve been getting amped just thinking about the late August concert.

I don’t have to live in the country, or have to drive two hours for a halfway decent brunch, but that doesn’t mean a slave to the concrete jungle like me can’t love country music, and that’s not abnormal in Massachusetts. The greater Boston area can support two country music radio stations, and most major acts come through every summer. But recently I got to thinking about how even though I can relate to some of the main themes in country songs – love, heartache, drinking, girls, tailgates, girls, the beach, drinking – the songs are framed in scenarios that are completely foreign to me. I decided to dig into this thought a little deeper.

After eschewing podcasts and listening to country music all week, I realize there’s so much about country life that I don’t think I’ll ever comprehend. Like at all. These are the things that a Connecticut Massachusetts Yankee in King Arthur’s Court like me just doesn’t understand when discussed in country songs.

Muscadine Wine

This appears as one of the main drinks of choice for the characters in many country songs. Every single time I hear it mentioned, I’ve assumed they were saying “musky dime wine.” I always wondered what kind of vile witches brew musky dime wine is. I know there’s some old hockey trick where you drop a penny into skunked wine and it makes it taste good. I just figured all the southern folk said shit, if one cent could clear up a decent pinot, a few dimes could fix the musky scented vino we’ve had laying around since the War of Northern Aggression.

Turns out it’s actually “muscadine” wine. Quick jump on over to the Google machine and it’s telling me that this is just wine made from a species of grapes native to the southeastern and south-central US of A. Not nearly as cool as musky dime wine. Snooze fest city.

County Lines

Everyone is always pushing the limits of the county line. “Let’s take it to the county line.” “Way on out by the county line.” What happens if you go over the county line? I’m imagining these southern areas have such small towns that town lines mean nothing, and what we think of towns here in New England they just think are counties. That’s the only explanation.

The fuck is a county, anyway? Massachusetts has 14 counties, and I have no idea which one I grew up in, which one I went to college in, and which one I live in now. Why don’t country songs ever talk about the town line? That seems much more pertinent, at least up north.

Parties In Fields With Randos

I’ve been to bonfires out at farms before. I’m no square. I had a friend who grew up on a farm in a rural-ish part of Mass. In high school, we’d drive out there to light up a big fire, grill, drink in the hay barn, drive the pick up through mud; essentially we were imitating what we heard in these country songs. But these songs are always saying how randos just show up and you pick up chicks at the bonfire, all the different trucks meeting up, dropping the tailgate, and mingling. Basically bringing the bar scene to the fields.

This was not how shit played out for us in those youthful days at our friend’s farm. The only uninvited guests that ever came to our farm field parties were the cops (and the ambulance once).

Dixie Cups

Without fail, if you’re drinking in a country song, you’re drinking from a Dixie cup. Where I come from, red Solo cups or GTFO. The last time I used a Dixie cup was when the pre-school was rationing out the apple juice and could only spare like two ounces per kid. Dixie cups just aren’t a part of party culture up north. Also they’re made of paper. Drinking out of paper is peasant shit. Show some class and drink out of something that won’t fall apart when it gets wet.

The Water Tower

It seems to me that in the south if you’re not throwing down in the fields, you’re up to no good at the water tower. Why? Why is that a thing. I think I saw my town’s water tower once. Or maybe it was the next town over. Probably in the same county though (see what I did there?) I’ve just never had the motivation to drive around until I found out where it was, and once I got there, what am I supposed to do? It’s not like I’m gonna smash with some Prospect in the water a la Will Smith in Wild Wild West.

Is drunk driving just not a thing?

When you drive out to the fields, or the water tower, and you start drinking your musky dime muscadine wine out of Dixie cups, how are you getting home? You’re not getting an Uber, there’s no way you’re walking down those dirt roads for miles. I mean, sure, drunk driving. Barring an unusually high number of designated drivers (pledges), I have to imagine drunk driving is a major issue. Or southerners just sleep in the fields. Someone please enlighten me on how the south lives.

I love country music. I’m not going to stop listening, and I’m not going to stop going to concerts. I just don’t think I’ll ever firmly understand the subject matter until Florida Georgia Line starts singing about the plight of the cube monkey, bougie brunching, or packed bars where you can’t hear what people are saying.

Image via Shutterstock

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