We’ve all heard the joke: What happens when you play a country song backwards? You get your truck back, you get your dog back, you get your wife (first and second) back, and so on. Among non-believers, country music gets a bad rap for being formulaic, unsophisticated and unforgivably twang-y. In New York City, it’s more scandalous to admit you like country music than confess you’ve been to the Olive Garden in Times Square.
The reason I like country music is exactly why I like what we do at Siegel+Gale. Here’s why: It’s rooted in simplicity.
This word cloud illustrates the frequency of lyrics from three of the top ten songs in country music on iTunes right now:
You can see right away the high occurrence of objects: Truck, tailgate, field, ice, beer, girl, moon. These concrete words establish a definite scene and tell a specific story. The more literal the words, the more real the narrative becomes.
The cheatin’, lovin’, drinkin’, achy-breaky storylines of classic country songs are simple, which makes them relatable. At the same time, their unembellished themes hit home beyond rural life. By my estimation, all country songs can be grouped into four topics: Coming, Going, Loving and Longing. (Subthemes: Transportation, Drinking, Heaven and Freedom.) These songs are beautiful because they’re boiled down to the basics.
Musically, country songs are characterized by a straightforward chord progression and a strong verse-chorus-verse structure where the verse sometimes takes on different meaning as the story builds. The guitar-pickin’ may get tricky, but the foundation of the music itself is unsurprising and easy on the ear.
The lessons we learn from country music are to share our barstools, listen to our grandparents, love with our whole hearts, take the back road and ultimately—to live simply and authentically.
Hate to tell you this, fellow Siegel+Gale-ers. When we create work for our clients, we’re actually going country.
Jennifer Eggers is a senior information architect for the Siegel+Gale New York office.