This is officially my new favorite country song. And I haven’t listened to much country lately. I used to listen almost exclusively to country, but more and more I find that it is only parroting the worst aspects of other popular forms of music like rock & hip-hop. Being a big Johnny Cash fan, I know country has always had elements of drug use and sexuality. I’m not sure if I’ve gotten more sensitive to this stuff or if it is more and more pervasive. Either way, I just don’t have much patience for it anymore. I think the music you listen to shapes you. It’s not about “not being stained” or thinking that everything secular is dirty. For me, I guess, it’s about what keeps me focused on God and the man God has called me to be. It seems to me that country today is just as likely to celebrate very ungodly lifestyles as any other kind of music, and I just don’t need to fill my head with that on a regular basis.
But, James Wesley just gave me a reason to celebrate country music again. Given all the reality TV on CMT (isn’t it owned by MTV, also a fine purveyor of “reality” trash?), it will be a miracle if this gets much air time. But man we need to hear this message:
500 Channels and there ain’t much on tonight
But reality shows about some folks so called lives
A pretty girl cries cause she don’t get a rose
But she’ll find love next year on her own show
And they call that real
Real, is the hand you hold 57 years
Real, is a band of gold trembling with fear
And it’s the first long tear down an old man’s face
Watching his angel slipping away
His heart so broke, it’s never gonna heal
I call that real
Where I live, housewives don’t act like that
And the survivors are farmers in John Deere hats
Our Amazing race is beating the check
Praying that the bank ain’t ran it through yet
Real, like too much rain falling from the sky
Real, like the drought that came around here last July
It’s the damn old weevils and the market and the weeds
The prayer they prayed when they plant the seeds
And the chance they take to bring us our next meal
I call that real
Real, like a job you lose ‘cause it moves to Mexico
Like a momma and a baby with no safe place to go
Like a little dream house with a big old foreclosed sign
Like a flag draped coffin and a 21 gun goodbye
I call that real
This hit me especially this morning because Snooki visited nearby recently (on a Sunday! Surely there should be a law…) to a packed Barnes & Noble. As a society, we are idolatrously glorifying the lives of people who literally contribute nothing to society. Moreover, the lifestyles celebrated in “reality” shows have nothing to do with how 99.9% of people actually live.
I serve a congregation of wonderful people. None of us are perfect. Some of us have lost children; some have had cancer; some of us have suffered from mental illness. We’ve lost jobs. We’ve raised good kids. We’ve had arguments, but found healing. We’ve worked hard, even for bad people, and continued to serve each other in retirement. I love these people. I love how real they are.
So please, media, stop trying to sell me something that is fundamentally sinful, wrong, malformed, and galactically unreal. Thank you James Wesley (awesome last name BTW) for a country song I can celebrate once more.