The love of country music will never fade


When I hear country music, my sneakers clap along with the heartbeat of the tempo…and I know it would be better if that foot wore a cowboy boot.

We didn’t listen to country music when I was growing up. My mom hated it and she ruled the roost. The music we heard at home was mostly church songs, but we had a small collection of 45s by Bobby Vinton, Vikki Carr and Johnny Mathis playing on bedroom record players.

In my early teens, I discovered Tammy Wynette. She sang about the pain of betrayal and passion, perfect for a girl who has just learned about love. His voice seeped through a clenched, tortured jaw that shredded every sentence.

Each song told a story. From beginning to end. I learned to spell “DIVORCE” with a tic in my larynx. She told me about poor little Bobby (his parents were separating!) and I had a sore throat for the little kid.

Johnny Cash took my interest in this “revealing music” to a new, lower octave level. After “A Boy Named Sue” hit the pop charts, I started listening to his other songs. He was not a crooner. Johnny Mathis’ soft trills sounded lyrical compared to the voice I heard on “I Walk the Line.”

Cash’s range was limited to a few throaty notes. But his raspy voice leaked out in the bars that held me captive in my “Casey Kasem’s Top 20 Countdown” world. I was mesmerized by the sound and fury of his songs. They convinced me that I had things to live, to love and to do.

I snuck into my brother’s room when he was leaving for a date or for work and learned four chords on his guitar. That was all I needed: in a heartbeat, I was able to play and sing Loretta Lynn’s brave tale of the chaos of catfights, “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man “.

My fingers were sore at first, then calloused. I knew the pain now. I could moan about love and loss and cheat and forgive with a shriveled grimace.

I grew up and became a mom and a grandmother. For the past four decades, lullabies, pop songs and hymns have filled my house. The “Eency, Weency Spider” has climbed this waterspout a million times, and pop music has spread from records to cassettes to 8-tracks, CDs and digital files.

The church songs I remember singing with Mom keep a steady beat in my heart; I tried to hold on to the “Old Rugged Cross” with a tenacity even Tammy Wynette would have envied.

But my love for a good old country song will never fade. The music is simple; the beat as predictable as a pulse.

When I hear Lee Ann Womack or Trisha Yearwood sing her stories, I smile at the common roads we’ve all taken. No other music can compete with these experiences and feelings.

And although I’m no longer the young filly I once was, I still feel like a “woman with a big heart” when my car stereo lands on a country station. My foot may be tapping with less energy now, but I’m still that same nasal, four-chord country girl playing the guitar indoors.

Contact Robin Garrison Leach at


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