Maria – The ‘Home’ in a Country Song

Tichi, Cecelia. High Lonesome – The American Culture of Country Music. UNC Press Books, 1994. 21-25 Google Book Search. Web. 9 June 2016.

Unlike any other western music genre, Tichi further argues in her book, that “Country requires a special kind of listening and particular kind of writing.” Surely, these “special and particular” aspects are what give Country music its grace and charm. Compared to other genres like pop, rock, R&B, etc, Country has got its own style which is simple yet elegant. The themes and patterns are totally different from the other genres. Country songs don’t simply convey the greatness of the American culture; it gives life to the whole dream itself. That is why the author further presses on; “It is not enough to mix verbatim song lyrics with remarks on American culture.”

It is evident, as we flip through the history and evolution of Country genre, that, “songs of ‘Home’ make up a premier category of country music.” Says Tichi. The lyrics mostly convey nostalgia and hope; a longing to go back to where one belongs, a longing to be with family, to be home. As the concept of ‘home’ itself might seem to be a little out-of-date, the author finds that “phrases and underlying assumptions can seem terribly old-fashioned.” She also raises questions like: “What do home songs in country music offer beyond nostalgia? Aren’t they sentimental yearnings for a simplistic America that, if it ever really existed, has vanished to a metropolitan and suburban age? Aren’t the songs themselves rigidly formulaic in presuming a nuclear family structure and, in their message, defiant of the realities of social change? Aren’t they idealistically (or blindly) unwilling to acknowledge the actual problems of home life?” These questions make us wonder if the whole concept of ‘home’ in Country songs is too good to be real, a dream which had already been lost.

Speaking about ‘home’, which is geographically located in the American South, the author further mentions that, “there is a paradox at work in country music home songs as they relate to the national culture.” She goes on, “the paradox shows the complex role of the home song both in country music and broad-based American cultural traditions.” She argues that the concept of ‘home’ in country songs doesn’t only relate to those who live down south but, in one way or another, the ‘home’ is a universal concept which is being created in the whole American consciousness. She emphasizes on this point by saying, “home songs are set geographically in the South, but they are only in the narrowest sense southern songs. The cultural records of the nation show that their ideas of home are virtually identical with the images in the visual arts and print over some two centuries of cultural process throughout the United States.”

Tichi also tries to throw light into the actual theme of ‘home’ which is well off and “maintains its ideal image only when problems of race and class do not enter in and disrupt the carefully managed and devised ideal.” She further states the universality of the term ‘home’ by saying that “home is a national preoccupation-perhaps obsession running through two centuries of national experience. The South, in this sense, represents the nation.”

Maria – Quirks and Rituals of Writing (MOOC Assignment)

MOOC Assignment for week 1 

My Way of Getting Ready to Write

Well now, I need to be honest with you guys. I am the queen of all the procrastinators in the history of the world and I have managed to keep my status intact for the last 22 years of my life. Thus, I don’t have much of a quirk or a ritual before writing something except for the last minutes’ terror, whining, running around and drowning in the depths of the endless ocean of confusion. I know, I know I sound pathetic but that is the honest truth! In fact, I think, I’ve never taken more than a week’s time to complete whatever I have written in my life so far. I’ll begin the thing before 3-4 days ahead the deadline and somehow manage to submit it. Thus, when I listened to the class about drafting, revising, editing, etc, I was like ‘Whoa, I can’t believe I’ve ever been so careless all through my life as an academic writer.’

But, now that I think about it, I may have already gone through all these steps without me even realizing it. I mean, yeah, I would have to collect resources to borrow ideas from, I would have to think about what kind of aspects am I going to present in my writing, the arguments I might raise in my project and statements to support them. I would have to read, reread and edit my project (in fact, that is what I usually spend most of my time on) before submitting it. So, I just found out that I might actually have an organized writing process! But let me tell you, once I start writing something, I DO NOT want to be interrupted. I am the kind of writer who goes on with the flow of words, thoughts and emotions as I write and if, at least for a nanosecond, the chain breaks in the middle? BOOM! There it goes, vanishes, emptiness, just nothing. That, my friend, is the worst part of the whole process. That moment of stress is beyond anyone’s control.

Keeping academic writing aside; I had mentioned in my ‘I am a Writer’ essay that I happen to be a songwriter. Well, that is a different story altogether. Whenever I feel like a new song coming through, I must grab a pen and paper before the little voice inside my brain goes off. I usually prefer to be alone with my piano while I am writing a song. In rare occasions, you might find me scribbling vigorously on a piece of paper in the middle of a crowd. So, it depends on if I am in a mood or not. I remember writing a song in just five minutes just after a fight with my friend. I had written and composed the whole thing in about just eight minutes.

Well, the most important thing is to know what you write and write it with authority and authenticity. I think that is what gives a project or a paper its grace and charm.

 

Maria – I Am a Writer (MOOC Essay)

The first assignment for the English Composition MOOC course.

 

I Am a Writer

First of all, I’d like to introduce myself to you, whoever is reading this; even though I’m kind of scared that this essay might go unread. (I sincerely hope not!) Hey! My name is Maria Joseph and I’d like to thank you for choosing my essay to write a review about. Honestly, I’m going to write this in a more informal manner as I am still a little confused about how I am going to do it. So, I am a writer. At least, I’d like to think of myself as one. Ever since I was a little girl I used to keep a diary to write about my day, I’ve had essays and compositions to write at school; I used to write small poems about my feelings; whenever I was happy, sad, angry, and so on.

As I grew up, I’ve had more sophisticated writing experiences; like writing articles in college magazines, 400-plus-words long essays on complicated theories for my university examinations, which drove me crazy sometimes (I’m not going to lie) and most of all, I have written a number of songs and I have also posted them in my blog online. Maybe songwriting is the kind of writing I’d love to do the most. I am also very fond of writing about life and experiences. As you might have already guessed, I am no good at formal writing; it is one of the things of which I am scared to death. Despite having written a 25-pages working paper for my course on Research Methodology during my first year of post graduation. I still shy away from writing formal materials: reports, articles for academic purposes and even letters for permissions, requests, etc. Well, I guess that would be all about the writer in me.

Maria – Lyrical Themes in Country Music

Tichi, Cecelia. High Lonesome – The American Culture of Country Music. UNC Press Books, 1994. 4-20 Google Book Search. Web. 9 June 2016.

As the author concentrates on the lyrical themes in country music. She says that while considering the subject matter in country music lyrics, “all are about life on the American Road.” As she prefers the term ‘country’ to The United States of America, she further goes on, “In this historically mobile nation, country music is virtually missing a puzzle piece the many representations of the American road.” She specifies that Country music provides extensively to the meaning one would attach to the road, i.e, to a journey along the countryside. She also argues that the genre is a cultural mark of the nation by saying “Country music is a crucial and vital part of the American identity.”

The genre itself is a direct association with the heart and soul of the nation and its various socio-cultural aspects. Country songs try to communicate a profound understanding of the power of the ‘open road’ as the form and symbol in the formation of an American self-concept over centuries. As she further moves on, she mentions about the concept of the national ideology of ‘the pursuit of happiness.’ She argues that, nevertheless, this concept has simply proved too burdensome over the centuries. She supports her argument by mentioning that “emotional life in America is much less a storybook conclusion to ‘the pursuit of happiness’ than it is, all too often, a face-to-face encounter with loneliness.” She also writes about how various “Country artists confront this issue directly and in a wide range of styles over decades.” She quotes Steve Earle as she writes: “Country music is where strong and tropical lyrics originally come from.”

Maria – Country Music as a Reflection on American Culture

Tichi, Cecelia. High Lonesome – The American Culture of Country Music. UNC Press Books, 1994. 1-4 Google Book Search. Web. 9 June 2016.

In the book High Lonesome – The American Culture of Country Music, the author Cecelia Tichi connects the cultural impact of Country Music on the United States by using contemporary references. Tichi reveals that the genre itself is strongly linked to the nation’s heart as she tries to emphasize on the term “Country” in country music as it is actually a national form that belongs to all Americans.

Country Music being considered as one of the most “American” art form, is a direct indicator towards the life of the common white man’s life and experiences. The genre itself is evolved through the ages, borrowing its essence and style from from the southeastern genres of the United States like the folk music and also Western music. The genre originated in the American South around late 1920s. According to Wikipedia, the origins of country music are the folk music of mostly white, working-class Americans, who blended popular songs, Irish and Celtic fiddle tunes, traditional ballads, and cowboy songs, and various musical traditions from European immigrant communities.

The history of Country Music begins from 1920s and spreads through six generations which dates to the present era of the genre which ranges from contemporary styles to its sub-genres like Outlaw Country, Country Pop. Country Rock, etc. The actual term “Country Music” gained its popularity in the 40’s. Then around the 70’s, a mixture of ethnic groups blended musical styles from different regions of North America (mostly Southwestern United States) and began creating today’s Country & Western music.

According to a blog entry which was published on St Lawrence University’s website, “Country music has a profound impact on the American subconscious: it provides the American nation with an identity.  Country music is American, and only American: its performers are American, its audience is American, its stories are American, and its ‘sound’ is American. The sound of country music embodies the history of the USA and it represented its character.”

In the first chapter of the book titled, “Pathos, Miseries, Happiness, Life Itself: An Introduction”, Tichi raises questions like, how does country music fit in the country? How does a vibrant, indigenous, enduring American musical tradition fit into the mainstream culture of the nation? Tichi states that “Country means nation; just as in this book, country music is emphatically national music. It belongs not solely to the locales to which folklorists and historians of music have assigned it.”