Sometimes, things can’t be captured fully in photo form. That is a hard thing for a photographer to admit. But tonight… tonight was one of those times.
The night the moon turned red. A blood moon.
I always think of the movie Practical Magic when I hear of a blood moon, of as they said, “Blood on the moon.” They didn’t have to explain it signified danger ahead.
I don’t fear a blood moon, though. I view it with humbling wonder. It was totally worth sitting out in the middle of my parents yard with the dog, bundled up and wrapped in a blanket to watch this occur. To see the moon slowly fade, then turn that deep blood maroon. Stunning.
I didn’t realize, going into tonight, that this is the first of four times this will occur in the next year and a half. It will next occur on October 8th, then again April 5, 2015, and then again September 28, 2015. Doing my homework, this phenomenon, while rare, did occur before… in 1909-10, 1927-28, 1949-50, 1967-68, 1985-86, and 2003-04.
No matter how often it happens, though, its still an awe inspiring thing to watch. For me, its the whole experience. The dogs barking in the distance. The light wind. Wrapping up in a blanket, camera in-hand. Some people think a blood moon signals the end of the world… and if it does, well, at least the world ended while I was living and experiencing the moment. Why fear such a thing? Embrace it. Be thankful for it. I say God is the best artist, and nature the most amazing canvas. Tonight was just an example of that fact, and I’m so glad I took the time to experience it.
I’ve had a week to let the ACMs sit and digest. Five days later, the things that stood out to me about the 2014 ACMs… (this is REALLY hard to narrow down!)
1. Lack of females represented. Now, let me be completely up front about the fact that my own music collection is probably 70/30 male artists to females. So in a weird way, I didn’t notice the discrepancy of male to female performances until it was pointed out to me. But, there was one solo female performance. All the other females appeared as part of a group or in duets with male artists. Why didn’t Carrie Underwood perform? Why didn’t Taylor Swift? (Hey, I’m not a Swift fan, but seriously… why didn’t she perform?) What about Kacey Musgraves who took home album of the year? Very unsettling knowing the females were pretty much ignored. Though as a sidebar, Miranda Lambert’s “Automatic” is IMO one of the best songs to hit radio in awhile, and she was rockin’ those silver boots and white tank top. Damn, girl lookin’ GOOD.
2. George Strait took home Entertainer of the Year. I hate that Entertainer of the Year is now fan voted. I really do. I don’t know WHY they went to that format for the top award, but they did. (I happen to be one of the only people I know that agreed with every time Taylor Swift took the award, because whether you like her or hate her, she’s a monster entertainer and earned that award.) I think that this is one of the first times my heart swelled with pride at the winner of a fan-voted award. George Strait, y’all! King George! I’m disappointed so much controversy resulted after the fact, but I’m sooooo happy he won. And, yes, I voted for George that night.
3. Merle Haggard tribute was amazing, but way too short. George Strait. Miranda Lambert. Introduced by Garth Brooks. MERLE HAGGARD? Be still my country music fan heart! Be still my Texan heart! Seriously could have hugged my TV. I was beaming the whole time. But. It was way too short. Way, way too short. It’s Merle Haggard! Why was it regaled to two half-songs? I was disappointed in that, but their choice of performers couldn’t have made me happier. And I’m glad he got the honor. On his birthday, at that! So I’m going to stick with being happy with it and pretend I’m not still a little miffed it was so short.
4. Lee Brice stole the show. Lee Brice dared to go on an awards show and sing a song acoustically. Not just that, but put his entire heart and soul into that performance. I would put his short verse and chorus in the top five performances of this night EASILY. If he didn’t turn your head during his performance, you must have been up getting something to drink and just not been watching. Because it was AMAZING.
5. So many artists, so little time! But wait… Why did some artists get multiple slots? Why not give that second slot to another amazing act? Where was Chris Young? Why didn’t Eli Young Band perform? Or, hey, how about some of those females that got left out? Hmm…
I know I write a lot about being super busy these days, but that’s because I am! There are times when I sit and do absolutely nothing, but I’m not sure what to start doing first. And as such, things get done right at deadline because suddenly that one thing has to take precedence.
But being as busy as I have been, I’ve learned two lessons:
1) It’s okay to say “No.” I’ve actually gotten better about it here and there. NO, I can’t plan this event. NO, I can’t attend this function. NO, I just can’t afford to do it. I feel guilty for a little while after saying “No” to something, but then I get this feeling of relief. Relief I’m not being held to do something I don’t have time to do. Relief I’ve not added yet one more thing to my to do list. And relief that the vast majority of the time the other person understands and appreciates my honesty.
2) I’m going to make SOMEONE mad. This is something I hate more than saying no to something. I hate making anyone mad. I’m a peace keeper. I like making other people happy. I’m a positive force, with a goal of making others feel positive. But sometimes… sometimes you’re going to disappoint someone. Sometimes you’re going to make someone angry. And you can’t let it ruin your day. You have to just learn from it.
In my most recent case, lesson two could have been avoided by doing the first lesson. It’s not so much I agreed to do something as I never came out and said “No” to doing it. And as such, conflict occurred. I’m willing to take the blame to the point of saying, “I should have say ‘No’ firmly and clearly.” But anything past that? I CAN’T accept blame for in any way.
Being busy is a blessing. I love having stuff to do. I love having goals and tasks, even if I get overwhelmed and lose sleep over things. In the end, it all is worth it and I feel GREAT over a job well done. But sometimes, its okay to say, “I can’t do it all.” It’s okay to say, “No.” Because in the end, admitting honestly you’re human, you make mistakes, and you can’t be in multiple places at once can be just as satisfying and relieving as being successful in a task.
Yesterday, as my husband and I were trying to get him loaded up to hit the road, we were approached by two, well, kids. Oh I’m sure they were 19 or 20, but in my eyes they were kids.
Now, I’m sure it’s the mark of a good sales
man kid to just start talking and not give you a chance to say no until you’ve been given the entire pitch. But I really could have saved the kid time and breath, as I knew from the moment he started we wouldn’t be buying anything.
We are are that time of month in which our bank account has pretty much $40 in it until the next payday. We just paid out our three biggest monthly expenses: health insurance, rent and truck payment. Random sales pitch isn’t going to work, no matter what.
But sales kid just starts talking and showing us how his product cleans our truck. At this point I’m just letting him keep cleaning. What the hell…clean my windows! Go for it!
Then. Then he goes, “I see you color your hair. This cleaner will even clean the color off your hair if you decide you don’t like your color.”
First, I’m not using something you just cleaned my truck with on my hair. Second, pointing out a woman’s roots have grown out only works for hairdressers. You, kid, are now being rude and doubly lost a sale.
After about 20 minutes of his spiel, I said we couldn’t do it. But asked if I could keep a brochure to look it up when we could afford it. Nope! He works on commissions and couldn’t let me have a brochure. I snorted to myself. Why not have a name someone can reference so you can still get credit after the fact? Guess the company isn’t looking out for you. And you aren’t looking out for them by refusing to let me keep a brochure.
No color off my hair or money out of my pocket. The kids couldn’t leave fast enough after being turned down. Fine by me. At least they didn’t do a hard sell after being turned down.
Later, I thought about how door to door sales really needs to be something of the past. Things like “Do not solicit” lists exist, and people are hesitant to open their doors to strangers. Being pressured to spend my money on my own property is uncomfortable and frustrating. It’s a blast from the past, sure, and I’m all about nostalgia. But some things really do need to cease.
As always, the show left me sitting back, pondering the direction of country music, the genre of music I’ve loved for years and that, well, pays my bills. I spent time on Twitter following some discussions, and I realized some glaringly obvious things.
Today, country almost needs to be broken into more than one genre. Perhaps its always really needed that, but it feels stronger than ever now.
I say that because much of the modern country is being called “Bro Country” and its gone in a pop, rock and rap direction. It’s catchy and gets stuck in your head. The lyrics are far from deep and tend to go in a very similar direction of trucks, hot girls, parties in the country, bonfires, and just riding around. It creates an idealistic view of “country living.”
Fighting to stand beside the “Bro country” is what I’d call the people holding on to the more traditional approach… with its own modern twist. Songs that strike a chord and/or tell a story. Songs that make me want to find a dancehall and dance the night away with my honey. Songs that respect women, history, family and true love.
I’d also say there’s a solid section that fits right in between the two. And I think its that fact right there that makes the idea of breaking the genre up in any way would never work. And honestly, I don’t WANT to see the genre broken up. I’m not opposed to there being the existence of “Bro Country.” (Yeah, I just said that. But I’m not.) I’m opposed to the fact that its shoved down country fan’s throats. I’m opposed to the fact that I never hear the new stuff I would like, because I get so fed up with country radio that I keep my radio set firmly on Sirius’ Prime Country.
While watching the awards while on Twitter, I’m left going, “Who is requesting this stuff??” as the Bro Country thing came on multiple times. The outrage I saw over Florida Georgia Line performing twice, while Lee Brice’s passionate acoustic performance of his award-winning “I Drive Your Truck” was regaled to a verse and a chorus.
I’ve known all along that what we hear on radio is (not quite) equal parts what the labels back, what fans request and what fans purchase. The first and the last are all about the money. It’s something that many who make music in Nashville lament and fuss about, but its money that decides what we hear. And within that, its why many aim at the teenage demographic. Teens will purchase singles off iTunes faster than those of us that are older. Parents will buy their teens music while foregoing their preferred music. Those of us that are older are more worried about paying the electric bill than we are buying a new album. We’re more willing to buy a hot cup of coffee from Starbucks to get us going in the morning than we are to buy a new single for $1.29.
Is it a messed up mentality? Yeah. It is. But I do it myself… and I’m married to a musician!
How do we make sure artists that are carrying to torch for country music stay successful? We buy their music. I think we’re all still, in a way, ingrained to buy a whole CD versus single tracks. “Oh I’ll get it when the album comes out.” Then we go get a vanilla latte instead of the album. Maybe next month.
Meanwhile, the “Bro Country” that’s popular with teens and young adults is being played over and over and over because sales have shown its what “the majority” wish to hear. And you know what? Maybe it is the majority that wants it. Maybe I’m stuck in my own little world and I’m clueless. Maybe we DO need to consider splitting up the genre some. But maybe we can instead make our statement 99¢ or $1.29 at a time. And in doing so, we hear more of what we want to hear, and we support the creation of even more songs to love in the future.