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I used to hate country music. 

I repeated the usual talking points of “I like all music except country” and “country music is just angry men singing about divorce.” That is, until I walked into a Star­bucks in June 2013. 

After ordering my drink, I walked over to the sidebar and grabbed a straw. I noticed a stack of cards and took one. It was some iTunes promo card with a free song code. Never one to turn down free things, I down­loaded “The Wind” by Zac Brown Band and forgot about it as soon as my drink was ready. 

Months later, I was cleaning my room and had my music library on shuffle. Even­tually, a strange sound hit my ears, making me feel like I got lost on some back­roads in Ken­tucky. My phone was across the room, so I let it play. Then I played it again. And again. I kind of liked it. 

Seven years later, country has become my favorite music genre. I’ve been to many con­certs and partied with the most fun fanbase in the world. I’ve even bought a cowboy hat or two. 

Country has given me a melody for every season of life. 

I’ve come to dis­cover many reasons why country is the greatest genre.

First, country music artists aren’t afraid to talk about God. 

Every night I should be on my knees / Lord knows how lucky I am / I’ll never say near enough / Thank God for this woman, Amen,” sings Dierks Bentley in his chart-topping “Woman, Amen.”

As ref­er­ences to the Bible dis­appear in popular music and Chris­tianity gets pushed out of the public square, the cowboy-hat and boot-wearing singers in this genre aren’t afraid to remind lis­teners of their faith and thank God for the blessings in their lives.

In fact, on Billboard’s Top 100 Hot Country songs of 2019, “God’s Country,” “Look What God Gave Her,” and “Prayed For You” all made it in the top 20 songs. 

Turn on your local country radio and you’ll hear artists thanking God for their lives and freedom. Many of them record covers of classic gospel songs. 

Fans and singers find joy in the small blessings from above and show their grat­itude in song. Country music is a fitting sound­track to the Christian life. 

Second, the genre, artists, and fans bleed red, white, and blue. 

A few months ago, my sister and I were singing along with Chase Bryant at a concert when he brought the beat down and an enormous American flag came out. He told the crowd, “if you don’t love this country and the men and women who serve in our mil­itary, I’ll be happy to escort you out.” 

Florida Georgia Line brought a dis­abled veteran onstage and gifted him a new car while tens of thou­sands of country fans gave a lasting standing ovation with screams and cheers. 

Every time “Chicken Fried” hits the speakers at a party, the crowd honors our troops in the third verse. We’re reminded to “Salute the ones who died / The ones that give their lives so we don’t have to sac­rifice / All the things we love / Like our chicken fried.”

Country artists and fans love America. The lyrics cel­e­brate freedom and have nothing but respect for the flag and the men and women who serve our nation. 

Johnny Cash cap­tures this per­fectly in his song, “Ragged Old Flag.”

“So we raise her up every morning, take her down every night / We don’t let her touch the ground, and we fold her up right,” he sings. “On second thought, I do like to brag / ‘Cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag.” 

There is no question that country music is the most American genre. 

Third, country songs encourage men to treat women with respect. 

It’s no sur­prise that most country music is about girls, and sure, a lot of it is about breakups. But just as much is about the pursuit and how to be a gen­tleman. 

Country music high­lights chivalry and pro­motes treating women with honor — a rarity in today’s music culture.

Thomas Rhett brought his four-year-old daughter, Willa Gray, on stage this summer and sang words of advice to her future boyfriend, “Remember when you pull her close to leave some room for Jesus / ‘Cause if you ever cross that line I swear, boy you’re gonna need him.” 

Also, Rhett says, show up early, don’t bring her home late, and get on her mom’s good side. 

The artists tell men to cheer her on and show support in all her accom­plish­ments — see Old Dominion’s “Be With Me.” Unlike other genres that take women for granted, country music tells men to get it together if they want to be deserving of their shotgun-riding partners. 

Jordan Davis says it per­fectly in “Singles You Up.”

“If he ever singles you up, if he’s ever stupid enough / I’ma be the first one calling you baby,” he sings. “If he ain’t holding you tight, if he ain’t treating you right / I’ma be the first one calling him crazy.”

Chivalry isn’t dead. Go to a country concert and count how many times you hear the word ma’am. 

Fourth, you can play it around anyone, even your grandma 

We’ve all been in sit­u­a­tions when a racy, explicit song comes on the aux and we rush to hit the mute button. It happens.

The odds are low, however, that it was a country song. 

Many of the common themes like love, summer, and trucks are appro­priate for all ages. Guitar riffs and drum beats that make us all smile and sing along are a dime a dozen in the country section of Spotify. 

This is pri­marily a result of how important the concept of family is to the genre. 

In songs like “Family Table” by the Zac Brown Band, the lyrics cheer family tra­dition and love. 

“Ain’t too many things, that could stand the test of time,” they sing. “But this family table’s held together by love that never dies.”

Finally, country is the best genre because it’s summer, sun­shine, and sandy shores for your ears. 

It’s not hard to find examples of this, but here’s a fan favorite, from none other than, the Zac Brown Band. “Got the blue sky, breeze and it don’t seem fair,” they sing. “The only worry in the world / Is the tide gonna reach my chair.”

You can’t beat songs about warm weather, the ocean, a glis­tening field, and a dirt road. 

These topics are unique to this genre and can turn your mood around faster than a country boy can get his truck stuck in the mud.

In con­clusion, If you’re a critic, all I ask is that you leave the boring old dis­missals towards country behind, and open your mind to the beauty of this genre.

I’ll leave you with these lyrics from Brad Paisley’s, “This Is Country Music.”

“Tellin’ folks Jesus is the answer, can rub ’em wrong,” he sings. “It ain’t hip to sing about tractors, trucks, little towns, or mama, yeah that might be true / But this is country music and we do.”

Ben Wilson is a sophomore studying pol­itics.