My Newfound Appreciation for Country Music

| 11/30/2010 1:09:14 PM

Tags: Food, Farming, Music, Cam Mather,

I have schizophrenic musical tastes that run the gamut from the 70s Rock and Roll of my youth to some jazz, pop, and almost anything in between. Lady Gaga and Katie Perry are awesome. My father invited Michelle and me to the Kingston Symphony with him last spring for their “Opera” afternoon. I know, I know, you’re thinking “Opera”? What a snob! Well it wasn’t real opera. It was Opera’s “greatest hits,” and most of us can easily recognize opera music that we’ve heard in TV commercials and movies. I learned to love opera from the Bugs Bunny cartoons. The cartoon where Bugs Bunny is shaving Elmer Fudd with a straight razor uses Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” as the music. There were lots of opera songs used in cartoons. I don’t think I could sit through a 3-hour long marathon of one opera, but the greatest hits, sung in part by Julie Nesrallah from CBC Radio 2, were really enjoyable.

My daughter, who’s doing archeological digs around Ontario, has learned to enjoy country music while driving around in a van with her work crew. As much as I like to kid her about listening to Country, some of this stuff isn’t too bad. I started liking the Dixie Chicks when Natalie Maines told George Bush that as a mother she didn’t approve of young men dying in a needless war. And I liked Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” and hoped that big “C” would never enter my world. Guess I’ve gotta take up skydiving and Rocky Mountain climbing, but I don’t plan on riding a bull named “Fu Man Chu.”

Recently my daughter Katie pointed me to the most important song I’ve heard in a long time. It’s called “On the Combine” by High Valley. Check it out here.

Wow …  it’s the best song and video ever. It speaks to my obsession with combine harvesters that started this summer when I grew my own wheat. I center my diet around grains ... breads, pasta, pizza, subs, waffles… all my favorite foods begin with wheat. Sorry Atkins’ Diet followers, but I haven’t gained a pound since high school. Guess it’s my metabolism. So after growing wheat and finding out what an insane amount of work it is I gained a huge appreciation for what most of us never think about when we’re getting that bagel from the coffee shop in the morning… it’s a miracle any of us can afford one! The economies of scale that industrial agriculture have achieved and the standard of living it has provided to all of us is truly the pinnacle of human endeavor. It’s not putting a man on the moon and it’s not getting 5,000 songs on a iPod the size of a cigarette lighter - nope, it’s the miracle of feeding 6 ½ billion people! In North America an increasingly smaller portion of the population works to feed the rest of us. And a growing percentage of the population is awfully dependent on a group they often hold in distain. Sort of a “Blue State” versus “Red Sate” thing.


Being a city refugee (cidiot) who now lives in a farming community I’ve been on both sides of the city/country divide and I’ve got to tell you that I’d rather spend time with people who grow food than people who program “apps” for smart phones. You might go into withdrawal if you’re out of cell service coverage and can’t plug into the matrix, but you can’t go very long without food. Most of us don’t grow it ourselves and are very indebted to the people who do. I guess this is why this song really resonates with me… “... every time I climb that ladder, takes me back to things that matter.” Harvesting wheat matters. “Workin’ real hard to keep it in a straight line, nothin’ you can do but pray for the sun to shine…” While you’re frolicking on the beach on a summer’s day some farmer’s blood pressure is through the roof wondering if the sun will hold so he can get that crop harvested. This country music talks about important stuff.

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