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Me On Country

by Linda Serrano 6 months ago in playlist · updated 3 months ago
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How my perspective of country music changed within thirty seconds

Last year, an admin on a Facebook group I’m in started a playlist. She invited every single member to submit their favorite songs onto said playlist. To say that we went all out would be an understatement. Over a thousand members within this group submitted at least twenty if not more of their favorite songs from their personal playlists, ultimately creating a mega playlist.

This playlist contains music from every genre ever imagined: rock, hip hop, r&b, Latin pop, etc. I was excited to listen to new genres - well pretty much anything other than the garbage music known as country music. It gets tiring listening to nothing but heartbroken men drinking whiskey at a bar or those exact same men comparing a woman’s body to a back road, especially if I worked at Cracker Barrel. If you’re not familiar with Cracker Barrel, it’s basically a country themed store mixed with a restaurant. Country music was playing all around the store including the back of house where I worked. God even employees can’t catch a break back there!

It was a busy Saturday morning and I had enough of listening to depressed rednecks for the day, so I put my AirPods in and play the mega playlist. Ah yes, let’s start off with John Mayer pointing out that some chick’s body is a wonderland. Next I’ve got Kevin Gates in his feelings on how he and some girl were supposed to be in love. Then after that I got a couple of throwback songs from the Backstreet Boys and Christina Aguilera. Okay, I can vibe to this kind of music while sweating my butt off on the grill line.

Then I heard a guitar come through my AirPods, but it wasn’t soft and relaxing as a John Mayer song, but it wasn’t as loud as a My Chemical Romance song either. It was giving off a rustic vibe as if I’m sitting in a bar off some country road somewhere. Wait what? The sound of drums followed behind the guitar and I suddenly remembered that I’m working at a country themed restaurant. Oh hell no! Usually I would just double tap my AirPods to skip a song, but a voice in my head demanded I manually skip it. I took my phone out just in time to read the song title and artist name. The title didn’t peaked my interest but the artist somehow did. Morgan Wallen, the screen read. Morgan Wallen. His name became a mantra in my head as if it held a significant meaning to me, but it didn’t. I didn’t even know the guy much less what he looked like. Heck, I didn’t even know what he sounded like. My finger traced the letters in his name. My face began to feel hot, sweat pouring down my forehead. My hands felt clammy as I feel my heart beat faster. My God I felt like I just ran a marathon. Then I felt the world around me stop. What in the world is going on? Am I suddenly growing some type of attachment to someone I don’t know? No, that would be absurd. I’m obviously sweating like crazy because the back up grill line fan is broken.

I was then brought back to reality when one of the managers called out the lead ticket. I quickly pressed the skip button and placed my phone back in my pocket. No need to know what the song is about. The title had the word “whiskey” in it so I assumed he’s drinking his heart break away like they all do. Oh Frank Ocean is next! After Frank, there’s Lil Mama talking about how good her lip gloss is. Then there’s Lil Nas X taking his horse to the old town road as I’m staging the plates at the window.

All of a sudden I heard a fiddle! Wait a minute. That’s not part of Old Town Road. What the heck is this? I looked at my phone; it was another country song. Kenny Chesney is his name. I rolled my eyes; I don’t care about your tractor and I most certainly didn’t think it was sexy. Skip. Now I’m switching positions with Ariana as I’m scooping mashed potatoes on a plate with a sirloin steak. Oh speaking of Ari, there’s a black queen named Ari Lennox that’s staying up late and I wanted to know why. I also wanted to know why Joyner Lucas didn’t think he’s racist even though the lyrics stated otherwise. I shook my head after finding out why Ant Saunders’ crush wrote his name in yellow hearts. Another set of fiddles and a banjo came. Another country song? Seriously? I dropped my tongs in exchange for my phone. Really Jon Pardi? Is now a good time to talk about the dirt on your boots? Kindly get the fuck on please. Skip. Anyways where was I - oh, yes I was prepping my four person breakfast set up for the lead ticket while getting low with Lil John.

Afternoon finally hit and we were completely slammed. Tickets kept coming through and I’m too focused on the tickets to notice the music I’m listening to. Screamo music practically ruptured my eardrums. I didn’t care. Rappers degrading women and dropping the N-word left and right. I didn’t care. Christian music on a busy Saturday? Sure why not. Taylor Swift. Wait what all goes on a Cracker Barrel sampler? Throwbacks playing back to back. That’s great, even better if these servers can clear the window so I can push more orders out. Musical numbers from The Greatest Showman? What a bop! Wait, what’s the lead ticket? Where am I?

One of the front of house managers came to the window and said something I couldn’t hear over the commotion. “What was that,” I asked, practically yelling. The manager cleared her throat. “Lead ticket is… 5-1-5-0!” Huh? 5-1-5-0? We only have two dining rooms and the ticket numbers have only three digits! Then it clicked. That’s not her voice I’m listening to. I whipped my phone out. How the heck do you even pronounce this guy’s name? I don’t care he’s a country artist anyways. Skip. “Lead ticket is 116!” Luckily I didn’t possess that ticket so I’m good.

I’m jamming to some British pop music as I’m scooping sides on plates. Upcoming artists I didn’t know? That’s fine as long as it’s not country I could care less. Juice WRLD? Let me stop dropping fried products to pay my respect. Kelly Clarkson? Yes. Kellie Pickler? No. Jason Derulo is the only Jason I fucked with. Aldean not so much. Skip. I’d rather bring sexy back with Justin Timberlake than bait a hook with Justin Moore. Next. Toby Keith. Next. Kip Moore. Next. Tim McGraw. Next. Tyler Farr. Next. Chris Lane. Next. Chris Stapleton. Next.

Ugh! It’s as if Spotify is being petty because I’ve been skipping more than actually listening to the playlist. No I don’t want to shake it for you, Luke. Skip. No I don’t want to go “picking wildflowers” with you, Keith. Skip. I don’t want to go anywhere with you, Josh. Skip. What the heck is a Chattahoochee, Alan Jackson? It sounds nasty. Skip. Skip! Skip! Skip!

You know what? That’s enough Spotify for the day since they want to be funny. I took my AirPods off. Luckily the lunch rush ended and two grill cooks were about to clock out. It was just me, a manager and two other grill cooks on the line. Of course being the slowest, I was assigned to clean the entire back up grill line which would take me two whole hours to clean up. I wasn’t complaining at all. I found cleaning the grill line oddly calming. I brought out all the cleaning supplies needed and started on the steamline. I moved the sides to the main grill line and wiped down the steamline, then I turned off the grill and pour the cleaning solution on there so by the time I get to it it’ll cool off some so it would be easier to clean. I then went ahead and cleaned the egg grill which only took a couple of minutes to complete. I wiped down and stocked the sandwich board and the reach in coolers. I happened to look at my phone to check the time and it was only 2:15. I still had a lot left to do before clocking out, to make the time go by faster I put my AirPods back in. That was my worst mistake.

In comes guitars and drums instantly taking me to some backroad. Damn I forgot the group playlist is still playing. I glanced at my phone. Dear Lord, it’s him again! My heart started palpitating once more. I felt completely breathless, finger subconsciously tracing the letters in his name. M-O-R-G-A-N. What am I doing? That’s weird. Stop it! I pulled my finger back. The album picture is different than the previous one. It must be one of his earlier albums, I deduced. Chasin’ You, the screen read. Yes, sir you’re gonna chase me off a cliff which is better than listening to you or any of these other rednecks. Skip. I put my phone back in my pocket - well I was going to until I heard the exact same guitar sound, but this time it gave out a romantically rustic vibe. Please, Lord let this be another John Mayer song, I prayed. I stared at my phone and there he is again. GOD WHY?!?! Me On Whiskey, the screen read. Oh sure, it wouldn’t be a country song without whiskey. I bet he’s going to be shitfaced wasted talking about how some chick screwed him over or something. I don’t need this kind of energy right now. My finger navigated over to the skip button, hovering over it. And that’s it. It just hovered over it. Come on, press skip. Why am I not pressing skip? What’s going on?

“Hey,” a voice chimed in. “Hear him out. I promise you it’ll change your life.” It was a reassuring voice, but only I could hear it. It’s crazy, I know. It must be the heat coming from the grill that’s affecting my sanity. My stomach began to churn uncontrollably. Great I’m anxious over some redneck that I don’t care about. Or maybe I do care a little. No, I most certainly don’t. I’m pressing skip, but my finger continued to hover over the button. “Please,” the voice in my head begged. “Give him a chance. It’s the fair thing to do.” Ugh. I do got a point though. Fine. I promised myself that if Morgan failed to capture my interest within the first thirty seconds, I’m blocking the whole entire genre off this app. I don’t how, but I believed it could be done.

I pressed play and placed my phone back in my pocket. It was time to clean the grill. I got a pitcher of hot water, ready to pour it over the grill. However, I was too focused on the song to do much of anything. Basically, Morgan thought it would be cute to take his girl to a dive bar. So romantic. They just had to get there early, because they made plans to “break it” later. I don’t know what that means. Anyways, it sounded like it’s a weekly routine for them, because he’s well aware that this broad loves to doll up knowing damn well at the end of the night she’s going to look like a hot mess and it’s not from the alcohol. How would I know? It’s the following lines that lives in my head rent free to this very day: “I know you got that red dress on, but you know its always gonna come right off…”

First of all, his voice I’ll explain another time, but I’ll tell you what happened right after I heard that line. I poured all the hot water on the grill and the steam immediately consumed me, fogging up my glasses. I wasn’t supposed to pour the whole entire pitcher for that specific reason, but I got so distracted. I coughed as the grill sizzled. I took my glasses off to clean it while the steam cleared out.

Once my glasses was clean, I put it back on. I heard Morgan mentioned about a smoky train or something I don’t know really. I noticed the steam coming from the grill had thinned out a little and suddenly I wasn’t staring at the stainless steel back of the grill, but the shelves filled with liquor bottles. I could smell the disgusting scent of cigarettes and alcohol. The neon lights advertising the brands of beer in stock blinded me. I looked down at what used to be the grill, now turned into a bar top. It was a wooden finish with a dark green marble top. Ash trays sat next to bottles of already consumed alcohol and glasses of partially filled bourbon? I whiffed one of the glasses. Oh God, it’s too strong. Whiskey, I deduced. “… won’t stop til the break of dawn,” Morgan continued. I could still hear him singing, but this time it’s as if the song is blaring through the speakers instead of my AirPods. Also how could I forgotten the song is still playing?

Okay, this is weird. Perhaps my glasses is still dirty and I’m seeing things. I took my glasses off and I was met with the blurry vision of said bar. Okay so my glasses wasn’t dirty. How about the heat from the grill. What grill? Im at a bar apparently. Maybe I had “too much to drink?” I looked around the bar, but the only cup that looked like a female drank out of was an empty wine glass with a red lipstick stain on the brim. As someone who never drinks, this might make me hallucinate. However, this didn’t make sense because last time I checked I was at work not at a bar. “… sitting there looking pretty on that old bar stool,” Morgan sang, but this time it’s right in my ear. No, not through my AirPods, but as if he’s sitting right next to me. He was serenading me! Do I dare look? Nope, best to just stare ahead, clenching on the empty wine glass for dear life, hoping this nightmare will end.

At that point I’m stuck between crying or screaming out for help, but decided against it in hopes I wouldn’t be sent to an insane asylum. I mean who’s going to believe this story am I right? I could still hear him singing the chorus. Oh my God, please make it stop! I promise I wouldn’t talk mad shit about country music ever again. In fact I would just avoid it all together. Just make it stop!

All of a sudden I heard Cardi B rapping about her WAP and the sound of ceramic plates hitting the floor. I blinked and suddenly I’m staring at the stainless steel wall again. I must’ve been crying in real time, because my eyes were extremely watery and I felt dried tears on my cheeks. I looked at the time on my phone. It was well after four! I’m going to be late to my second job and I haven’t finished cleaning the back up grill line! I grabbed the grill brush in hopes that it wasn’t too late to scrub it down only to find it completely shiny as if it wasn’t used at all. What? How? I hadn’t done anything but stand there staring off into space. The kitchen manager walked by me, admiring the cleaned grill. “Wow,” he exclaimed. “Great job with the grill, Linda.” I stared at him as he set a pan of green beans on the steam line. But I didn’t do anything? I decided it was best not to question it. I grabbed my belongings and left. I called out from my second job, saying I didn’t feel good. It wasn’t a lie. I guess the heat messed with my head a little. There’s no way some dumb country song did all that damage, right?

The next morning at work, I knew better than to play that group playlist, so I opted for the Most Recently Played playlist that Spotify made for me. Basically, Spotify compiles a playlist based on songs I currently listened to on repeat. I pressed shuffle and I instantly regret it. That same guitar rift came on again. No. Freaking.Way. Anxiety consumed me and I’m low key freaking out. Here comes Morgan Wallen with his southern drawl. I was too scared to look at my phone, but I needed answers. I unlocked my phone and there it was; the first song on the list! How did this song make it on this playlist if I only played it once? I played it once, right? How many times did I press repeat?

I’m done! I’m done! I took my AirPods out my ears. Ain’t no way I played that exact same song that many times for it to appear on my recently played playlist the very next day. There’s no way. You can get rid of that song off that playlist, I reassured myself. I just need to play another song to get rid of it. I went to my own playlist and pressed shuffle. I didn’t care; any song would do. I didn’t want to deal with him ever again.

So there I was on the grill line, listening to my sassy queens singing about how they don’t need a man in their lives. Demi was clearly not sorry about being sorry. Dove Cameron was roasting her “lazy baby.” My girl from across the pond, Emma Blackery’s ex thought she was pretty before he took out the “r.” I should be vibing to them like crazy, but I wasn’t. I realized that not once did I imagined myself clapping back at any of my exes. Well not in a way like I was imagining being at a bar the day before. Ugh. So what if he performed some kind of witchcraft on me with a song, I didn’t need him then. I sure as hell didn’t need him now.

An hour into my shift, Iyaz compared his girl to a melody that he wanted to replay. Cool I guess. Then Joji is slowly dancing in the dark. Odd, but okay. Billie Eilish is a bad guy. Whatever makes you sleep at night, sis. Keri Hilson is doing the pretty girl rock. Meanwhile, I’m trying not to miss him. Wait. I miss him as if we broke up. I miss him as if I couldn’t just search him and pull up his album. And what do I miss about him when I barely acknowledged his existence only twenty- four hours ago? The euphoria I didn’t get when I listened to other genres. His southern drawl that got me hooked as soon as he started singing. The lyrics that shows off his charming personality. The fact that I still didn’t know what he looked like which added to the mystery. The fact that he’s the first country artist I listened to and now I’ve become dependent on his music to get through this long eight hour shift.

Screw this playlist. Where is he? I needed to hear his voice! I searched his name and played his most recent album and I felt that same euphoria from the day before. Mid shift, I had an idea. If Morgan could make me feel a certain way within a short time, does that mean other country artists can do the same? To the group playlist!

Yes, Kenny, tell me why she thinks your tractor is sexy. Yes, I’ll shake it for you, Luke. Yes, Carrie, vandalize his truck so he’ll learn to think twice before he cheats. Yes, Craig Morgan, tell me what it’s like to be an international harvester. Yes, Blake, you can be my honey bee. Finally, Morgan, you can chase me “like a shot of whiskey.”

By the end of my shift I “accidentally” made a personal country playlist for myself so I can exclusively play it when I’m at work. Yeah, I still get the break up song where the guy drinks his sorrows away and the same old song where some guy wants to dance with some broad that he just met at a bar. Heck, I even get the same scornful women that’ll end your life if you cheat on them. However, my perception of country music changed. It’s not about the lyrics behind the song, it’s about how it makes you feel at the moment. I guess the reason I was whisked away to a dive bar to begin with was because I was too stressed out and I needed a quick escape. I couldn’t escape to anywhere in pop or rap music and that’s why I didn’t feel the euphoria that I’ve gotten when I listened to country.

Today, I’m grateful to have listened to the voice in my head, because had I kept up with the stigma, 1.) I wouldn’t have experienced euphoria and 2.) I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone who my favorite artist is without saying “all of them.” So my advice is simply this: don’t knock it til you try it. Those thirty seconds might change your life.

playlist

About the author

Linda Serrano

Don’t mind me. I’m just an ambitious writer trying to write stories inspired by films, books, music, and my personal life. I’m currently working on three different novels on Wattpad as I’m typing this profile so stay tuned 😉

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