My favorite thing about country music is the focus on storytelling. Country songs are full of vivid characters and tales of heartbreak and hi-jinks. I think this is why, sometimes when I’m listening to country, I start feeling like a different character myself. The funny thing is, it’s not necessarily the character featured in the song I’m listening to, it’s a character within myself that can only be awakened by a certain combination of lyrics and banjo chords. For example, the other day when my boyfriend Nick got home from work, I said hi and then immediately began railing against “big city fat cats” who don’t understand the values of the REAL America. Nick shook his head and said, “You’ve been listening to ‘Flyover States’ again, haven’t you?” Oops. Guilty. Here is a rundown of my five main country music alter egos and the songs that trigger them…
The Song: “Any Man Of Mine” by Shania Twain
The Alter Ego: Cheryl, a hard-working single mom from the ’90s who is about to enter the dating scene but is determined to NOT settle, especially after the epic dud that was her first husband. Her kids are always her number one priority, but you know what? She’s entitled to a little fun every now and then!
What This Alter Ego Compels Me To Do: Practice Shania’s super sassy stomp-clap dance for hours; search for vintage high-waisted Levi’s on Etsy.
The Song: ”Flyover States” by Jason Aldean
The Alter Ego: Phil, a 50-year-old, salt-of-the-earth farmer in Kentucky who married his high school sweetheart, has five kids, and hasn’t taken a day off or a vacation in 30 years. He always pulls over when he sees someone having car trouble, requests peach pie for every birthday, and is innately distrustful of “big city types.”
What This Alter Ego Compels Me To Do: Rejoice in American pride; resent my friends who live on either of the coasts; rail against Obamacare.
The Song: “Free And Easy (Down The Road I Go)” by Dierks Bentley
The Alter Ego: Ellen, a hedgefund manager from Long Island who got fed up with her chauvinistic boss one day, cleaned out her desk, flipped him off, and walked out. She sold everything she owned, bought an Airstream trailer, and set off to see the country. No itinerary, no backup plan — and she’s never felt more alive.
What This Alter Ego Compels Me To Do: Take long drives with the windows down; stop at rural gas stations to buy a Coke in a glass bottle even though I don’t like Coke.
The Song: “Fist City” by Loretta Lynn
The Alter Ego: Missy, a bartender at a truck stop dive bar who doles out snappy comebacks to amorous drunks as often as she doles out shots of off-brand whiskey. If she had the means to make it to a big city, she could probably make it as a tough-talking comedian. She is also really good at darts.
What This Alter Ego Compels Me To Do: Use the phrase “holler ‘n swaller” in everyday conversations; wear trucker hats without shame.
The Song: “Drink In My Hand” by Eric Church
The Alter Ego: Mel, a factory worker in Michigan. Life’s been rough for Mel. His hours keep getting cut, his boss is always riding him, his wife spends her time openly flirting with the hot mailman whose deliveries seem to be getting suspiciously more frequent. The only thing Mel looks forward to these days is unwinding at the bar with his buddies from high school.
What This Alter Ego Compels Me To Do: Call Amelia “Boss man” and tell her to shove it even though she is always really nice to me and doesn’t deserve that at all.
[Tractor photo via Shutterstock]