Country Roads

Maryland, USA

There’s a new Brad Paisley hit on country radio that I heard several times over the last two days driving from York to Washington, DC, and back again. It starts

You’re not supposed to say the word “cancer” in a song.
And tellin’ folks Jesus is the answer can rub ‘em wrong.
It ain’t hip to sing about tractors, trucks, little towns, and mama, yeah that might be true.
But this is country music and we do

This is one of the things I like about country music, and one of the reasons I listen to it when I’m Stateside. They sing about the simple things that are human and important to ordinary America. The things that are universal about humanity: raising kids, falling in love, worrying about your family, watching them die, trying to live up to your parents’ hopes and aspirations.

I once heard ethnomusicologists on NPR talking about the popularity of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers in Africa. They talked about country music being not so much for people who live in rural areas. It’s more about the people who used to live in rural areas, or whose parents did, and who now have to live in the city and feel out of their element. In a way, that’s what I appreciate about country music. Even though I never really considered southern York County to be home, the longer I’m away the more I can appreciate the advantages of that life, in rural America, rural Jordan, rural Switzerland and all around the world. And since I’ve been living in cities since then….

So, maybe it was the country music. Maybe it was the unexpected thrill I got out of driving, and how easy and orderly it seemed after riding around in Cairo taxi cabs for 6 months. Maybe it was connecting with old friends. Whatever it was, something made me decide to take the long way home from lunch with Elly, through Jarrettsville, Delta, Brogue and Red Lion.

Another Goucher Girl Interlude
It was also great to have lunch with Elly, another friend from my creative writing program in undergrad. Yet another friend I haven’t seen since college, and it was so comfortable to sit over Persian food in Towson and chat.

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