Winter is historically my season for inspiration. Everything is dead or dying, cold and gray. It’s a blank slate for creativity and thought. I adore these months. My writing, drawing and music all come alive in the winter. I also listen to a lot more country music in the winter. This stems from spending winter months in Germany when I was in the service, being couped up in a barracks room with one other American guy, snowed in and unable to go anywhere, and all we listened to was country music. I love it.
I understand sometimes it gets annoying and begins to all sound the same. But I have very little respect for people who just automatically dismiss it as if none of it is worth listening to. “I listen to everything but country and rap.” Yeah, yeah, you’re too cool for school. So if this describes you, then you probably need not read on. The column ends here for the closed-minded. If, however, you have an ear for talent – whether or not you actually listen to country music, then read on, dear reader. I listen to everything. This even includes Tejano and Irish polkas in which cases I can’t even understand what they’re saying – so long as the music itself is tolerable and attractive.
Moving on. I’ve lately been listening to a lot more country music, since most of the other stations play the same things over and over ad nauseum. I can’t even stand most of today’s music. They’re literally just letting anyone and everyone put out albums. Has anyone heard Godsmack? Good Charlotte? I rest my case. At any rate, it has been a few years since I listened to country music with any regularity. The seasons, it seems, have a season themselves. Every few years, I get back into a different rhythm. All that to say the following.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the most remarkably keen situation occur. As I’ve been listening to a country station, a song has come on that just drowns me with emotion. The clarity of the music, the sweet harmony of the background vocals, the rich melody – it all just sounds like sweet wine pouring forth from my car speakers. I turn it up. And then I invoke the Shazam application on my Android phone that recognizes and labels songs for you. This app will listen to a bit of the song, send the information to a centralized server where it reads the digital thumbprint of the song, matches it with the artist and title and sends that information back to you. Amazing.
Well over a few weeks – possibly a couple of months, I’ve heard several songs like that come on the radio that just floor me. Really, really good songs. And each time I turn it up, then tag them with Shazam. And each time – every time – it has come back as the same artist. All different songs; no joke, I think this has happened six times or so in the past weeks. And every song was by the same artist. Very very clearly, I need to check this artist out. It can’t be coincidence that every song I’ve heard by Zac Brown Band is just lovely. They obviously have something going. Zac’s voice is rich and wonderful. And in these few short weeks, I’ve already come to think of him as my favorite male country vocalist of all time. I love Hank Williams’s voice. Garth has a good voice. Brad Paisley, George Strait and Alan Jackson are all good too. But Zac Brown is fabulous.
You could do worse, dear friends, than to go give some of his songs a listen. And some of the ones that didn’t (or at least haven’t yet) make it on the radio are some of the best. They make me move in my seat. They make me want to grab my red-haired wife and spin her around a dance floor. These boys are having a great time making great music, and it’s obvious in the delivery. I can’t get enough of them. I bought their two most recent titles last night. I think they have a couple of earlier ones I plan to check out as time allows. But these two albums are life-changers. Like when I finally discovered Dave Matthews Band or John Mayer. The really big influences. Zac Brown Band is here to stay. You, too, should invite them in.