Secret: Sometimes I listen to country music on the radio while I drive. This started when a boyfriend and I drove from Chicago to New Orleans for a wedding and found there was just nothing else on the airwaves in rural Louisiana. The melodies were simple and the lyrics repeated — so after a few days we could sing along, and they became our songs too, zooming through the green rolling hills. I cried at the sentimental ones and shouted along with the loud ones. And now that music makes me think of the road. Most of all, they’re story songs, about the big questions and the big heartbreaks, and sometimes that’s just what you need.
David Foster Wallace talking about tuning into the country station in downstate Illinois:
Because that’s like pretty much all there is, when you’re tired of listening to Green Day on the one college station. And these country musics that are just so—you know, ‘Baby since you’ve left I can’t live, I’m drinking all the time.’ And I remember just being real impatient with it. Until I’d been living here about a year. And all of a sudden I realized, what if you just imagined that this absent lover they’re singing to is just a metaphor? And what they’re really singing to is themselves, or to God, you know? ‘Since you’ve left I’m so empty I can’t live, my life has no meaning.’ That in a weird way, they’re incredibly existentialist songs. That have the patina of the absent, of the romantic shit on it, just to make it salable. . . But that if you cock your ear and listen real close—that it’s deep, you know?. . . That we find, that art finds a way to take care of you, and take part. Kind of despite itself.