bob thompson

I don't know why I randomly remembered Bob Thompson right here or right now, but I did. As one of my top-3 favorite professors (I can't leave out Steve Davis or Peggy Thompson), I felt lucky to have had the chance to talk, study and learn from him. So I Googled him today and found this great article from Salon, written a few years ago.


keith urban plucks at urban heartstrings

OK so this time last week I mentioned my infatuation with the latest hip-pop, but by the end of the week (thanks to iTunes radio) I had worked my way over to what might be the opposite genre: Country.

(Now I'm by no means a music critic or pop-culture analyst so if you're one of those people who are--or who at least steep yourself in the literary waters of Rolling Stone and the like--then you may find this posting either A) obvious, B) cliche, or 3) both.)

I've always been a tepid off-again/on-again fan of Country music, even though bluegrass grazes the pasture of my CD collection (huge AKUS fan over here) and Ropin' the Wind was one of the first CDs I ever owned. Sure, I'd get passively sprinkled with the other stars thanks to my high school friends, or I'd occasionally turn the radio dial on a leg of a cross-country drive thanks to the boredom that is Nebraska. But other than that...I can't say I've ever been a Country music 'fan.'

Well, until the past few weeks.

Who knew how clever this stuff was??
For example Jo Dee Messina's "Heads Carolina, Tails California" suggests:
I've got people in Boston/Ain't your daddy still in Des Moines
We can pack up tomorrow/Tonight let's flip a coin
Heads: Carolina, Tails: California
Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer
Up in the mountains, down by the ocean
Where it don't matter; as long as we're going
Somewhere together/I've got a quarter...
Heads: Carolina, Tails: California.

Or Tim McGraw's "Something Like That" laments:
I had a barbeque stain on my white T-shirt/
She was killing me in that mini skirt/
Skipping rocks on the river by the railroad tracks.
She had a suntan line and red lipstick/
I worked so hard for that first kiss/
A heart don't forget something like that.

Yes, it's simple...but somehow literarily-brilliant. These stories are touching and I would argue that they can resound within even the coldest cynic's heart.
Ambition of moving forward in life.
Freedom of the road.
A special, yet sheepishly-embarassing, interaction with your first heartthrob.
This is the stuff of most American comings-of-age, and technically applies to thugs, nerds, rednecks, preps, and all 'races' alike, regardless of whether they were actually skipping rocks on the river by the railroad tracks.

Now enter Keith Urban. His song, "Better Life," is a simple call for providing the best for you and your main squeeze, and can easily win over hearts single and married alike, indie hipster or gangsta apart. This song is especially applicable to myself and what I would consider my urban peers. The video, obviously set in a city, shows the sweet, albeit watered-down story of young love:

Bad video aside (I recommend just listening), can you really tell me you weren't a least a little "into" this song? Regardless of where you're at, I think we all recognize, perhaps unlike our parents and quite possibly with the advantage of social awareness, how important a good relationship is. Indeed, we are more aware of (or are trying to be) ourselves and our needs than any other generation, and this translates to a sometimes-complicated, sometimes-effortless dedication to finding a good companion. Why do you think so many mid-30-year-olds are still single? It's simply not worth it to hunker down with the wrong person. I'd say that Urban's song even resonates with single-for-lifers. They don't want it for themselves, but they recognize its importance and hope their friends have the good relationships they deserve.

Take that appreciation of a good relationship and add to it the undeniable desire to ensure a happy and 'better life' for you and your boo--even if it's already 'good'--and this country song is pretty much a musical formula for success with me and my peers.

Cheesily, I'm sold.