Country music song writers are great storytellers. As you may have read a few posts back, redneck seems to be rubbing off on me because I recently started listening to country music. But I have to say that I've gained a great deal of respect for them this year.
In the past I thought of country music as some kind of twisted joke. I was convinced the old saying was true. What do you get when you play a country song backwards? You get your car back, your wife back, your heart back, your old hound dog back, your house back, etc. I never for a second thought that I'd be appreciative of their skill in setting scenes and evoking emotion with only a few lines. Lines that rhyme to boot! As a writer this fascinates me. These authors create an evocative story that can be told in three minutes. For instance, here's one of my recent favorites penned and sung by Dierks Bentley. Check out this beginning.
Becky was a beauty from south Alabama.
Her Daddy had a heart like a nine pound hammer.
I think he even did a little time in the slammer.
What was I thinkin'?
Those are the first four lines of his hit What Was I Thinkin'? The second line is awesome! Such description! Definite use of hook in my opinion.
Tim McGraw and The Warren Brothers wrote this next one. It's a fictionalized letter prepared by a soldier in case he dies in the line of duty. It's called If You're Reading This, and I can't listen to it because it makes me cry every time, but that doesn't mean I don't love it. Here's a section out of the middle.
If you’re reading this
Half way around the world
I won’t be there to see the birth of our little girl
I hope she looks like you
I hope she fights like me
Stands up for the innocent and the weak
I’m laying down my gun
I’m hanging up my boots
Tell dad I don’t regret that I followed in his shoes
So lay me down
In that open field out on the edge of town
And know my soul
Is where my momma always prayed that it would go
And if you’re reading this
I’m already home
The emotion evoked is stellar. Something I feel that I lack in my writing. I can't seem to open up enough, or be courageous enough, to pour my emotions into my writing, which inevitably, I believe, will hold it back.
Here's some great setting and character description from Redneck Yacht Club by Craig Morgan.
Bass-trackers, Bayliners and a party barge,
Strung together like a floating trailer park,
Anchored out and gettin' loud all summer long.
Side by side, there's five houseboat front porches,
Astroturf, lawn chairs and tiki torches.
Regular Joes rocking the boat, that's us:
The Redneck Yacht Club.
Bermuda's, flip-flops and a tank-top tan:
He popped his first top at ten a.m.: that's Bob,
He's our president.
I love the description of their president. Nineteen words, and he's captured. I can completely visualize him.
And as a romance writer, I have to put some sweet stuff in too. Here's the last verse of Little Moments by Brad Paisley.
When she's layin' on my shoulder on the sofa in the dark
And about the time she falls asleep so does my right arm
And I want so bad to move it 'cause it's tinglin' and it's numb
But she looks so much like an angel that I don't wanna wake her up
Yeah I live for little moments
When she steals my heart again and doesn't even know it
Yeah I live for little moments like that
So there's a few examples, all done with an economy of well-chosen words, perfectly strung together. Man, that's something as a writer I definitely am trying to aspire to.
No one who knew me in the past would ever believe that I'd become a country fan. It's got to be that redneck really is contagious. I refuse to believe anything else.