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In Perspective — Love, War and Redneck Crazy

By Rodney Hays

My friend David says there’s only two types of music in the world: 1) Country and 2) Western.

That sounds pretty good but I like all types of music. I grew up on rock and roll, R&B and, of course, old-time country and western music.

On a long road trip, my parents would pop in an 8-track of Lou Rawls, The Spinners, Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons, Elvis and Conway Twitty. It was quite a cornucopia of music — and by that I mean some of the time I would rather have stuck an actual cornucopia in my ear than listen to some of my parents’ music. But most of it I loved and still do.

I go through spurts of what type of music I listen to. Sometimes it’s Foreigner. Sometimes it’s Marvin Gaye. Sometimes it’s Michael Buble — Don’t you dare judge me. Right now I’m kind of going through a country faze, mostly new country. I like to lay my seat back, put the top down and turn it up really loud. The people at Sonic sort of frown on it, but I do it nonetheless.

I like country music. But there seems to be a few songs that have strayed from the true meaning of country music.

Let me explain.

A couple of years ago, the world got their undergarments all in a bunch when the Dixie Chicks came out with a song called, “Goodbye Earl.” The song was about a small-town girl who married some dude named Earl. A few weeks after they were married, Earl started abusing the young girl. The song is about how the girl killed Earl and hid his body.

“Earl had to die,” was the lyric that got the world in an uproar. And for pretty good reason. It’s true that women get abused every day and feel the desperation of trying to get out of a relationship, but giving Earl some poison-laced black-eyed peas probably wasn’t the answer.

Country stars continued to write questionable lyrics. Carrie Underwood and The Band Perry sing songs about harming an ex-boyfriend.

But no song makes me change radio stations faster than the new song by Tyler Farr called “Redneck Crazy.” That song explains how a guy got done wrong by a gal and it drove him “redneck crazy.” She made him drive over to her house and drink beer in the driveway while shining lights into their bedroom window in the middle of the night, because “she drove him redneck crazy.”

That’s not redneck crazy to me. When I was growing up, redneck crazy was wearing cowboy boots with shorts. Redneck crazy was catching giant catfish with your bare hands. Redneck crazy was drinking a Thermos-full of coffee after a long hot day in the hay field. That was redneck crazy.

Tyler Farr’s activities ain’t redneck crazy. He’s just plain nuts and borderline criminal.

I may not know the law very well, but that sounds like a pretty good case for a restraining order. Some people probably think it’s a cute little country song about one man’s devotion to his lady friend. No. It’s crazy. But that ain’t redneck crazy.

Heart break happens in country music. Country legend Gary Stewart knew about heart break. In the song, “She’s Acting Single, I’m Drinking Double,” Gary shares the story about how his woman left him. What did Gary do? Instead of looking for a fight, he started drinking lots of alcohol, just like the good Lord intended.

We live in a mixed-up world where violence and craziness seems to be the answer to everything. I guess crazy songs about crazy people doing crazy things are good for us in some crazy way, but I prefer happy songs. I like songs about fun stuff. About love. About peace.

Peace and love are a lot better than war and acting crazy. Some of the writers of the bible looked forward to a day when everybody will “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” That means that maybe one day we can all take our instruments of war — whether they are guns and bombs or headlights shining into bedroom windows — and turn them into instruments that can help a great number of people.

A few years ago, I was always looking for a fight, looking for a way to use my figurative sword and spear. Whether it was the government, the school system, the people at the church down the street, I was always at “war” with somebody. But I think I’ve moved on now. Instead of looking for a fight, I search for peace. I look for the good in people and in situations.

I prefer peace over war. I guess I’m just redneck crazy.