The Country Music Bug has bitten me.

Have I posted about this before? I feel like I have… anyway… This past year country music has slowly but surely seized my heart. It started as almost an annoyance. My hometown’s (and family’s favorite) classical radio station jumped ship a few years ago and was picked up by a country station. My family never got around to changing the radio presets in our car; for a while we just ignored it – I knew not to press “6” and when I did, I’d scroll through to another alternative rock station. But slowly over time my mom started listening to it and got hooked. Around a year ago she asked me to download all the songs she enjoyed, which she had so diligently written down on a scrap of paper she kept in the car, and make her a “tape” (as she affectionately and intentionally calls CDs). I rolled my eyes and put it off for a while, then decided – finally – to make her this stupid CD so I’d stop hearing about it.

Oh, how wrong I was.

I gave her the CDs when she and my dad drove up to pick me up for spring break last year, and we listened to them all the way home. On first listen, they gave me a headache, but once I looked past the twang and images of cowboys they’d bring to mind, I saw what my mom saw in them: wonderful, well-written lyrics. Some are sweet, some are hilarious, some will seriously make you cry. But all of the songs my mom had me download had a story to them, and (prepare for the sap, dear readers) those stories touched my heart.

And now it’s all I listen to.

I can’t get these songs out of my head. I listen to Toby Keith describe his ever-patriotic dad and Blake Shelton thank God for his wife. I hear Martina McBride tell the story of a husband whose love would pull his wife through her cancer treatment. I listen to Taylor Swift describe her childhood and how much she loves her mom, oddly similar to the way I grew up and my own feelings. These songs are so full of life that sometimes I don’t know what to do about it. Seriously, it’s very difficult to turn them off, or even to hear one in passing and not say, “Oh, I really like this song.”

I do miss my “other” music, and it still captures me. Though now I have to admit that I have to work at listening to it: my go-to music is country. My playlist is always open on iTunes, and I feel like I’m always itching to hear one of its songs. I especially missed country while I was over in Europe, of all places – I couldn’t stop listening to The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young” and Tim McGraw’s “Southern Voice” (an absolutely hysterical song, by the way – such great memories are associated with it).

Now I really want to visit the South, eat its food, drink its mint juleps, and sit on the front porch listening to country music.

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