Let me preface this by saying I’m not a country music guy. I know, I know, it’s shocking that a boy from New Jersey wasn’t raised on the twang of a banjo and only knows The Judds as relatives of Ashley. But as the Grammy Awards approach and we prep for the debut of our new Coldwell Banker campaign, I took a look at the list of Grammy Nominees to see if any songs were about a concept we hold near and dear, home.
Turns out there was one: Home by Dierks Bentley. It’s up for best country solo performance and it got me thinking. Why are there so many country songs about home? Other musical genres have songs about home, but country music is by far the most prevalent user of home as subject matter.
As just a novice of country music off the top of my head I can name 2 or 3 country songs about home. Home on the Range. John Denver’s Country Roads. Johnny Cash’s My Old Kentucky Home. Then you’ve got songs that may not be hardcore country but have country influences like John Mellencamp’s Pink Houses and of course Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama.
Other musical genres have songs about home, but country music is by far the most prevalent user of home as subject matter.
Just google “country songs about home” and you’ll have a playlist a mile long of tunes to listen to. So why this genre more so than others?
Country music has also proudly worn its patriotism on its sleeve which I think lends itself to messages of home. Taking pride in your country is taking pride in the place you choose to live, but I think this concept goes beyond just recent times all the back to the very roots of country music.
Did some digging and unearthed some surprising facts? Stereotypically we define country music as being solely “Southern” in nature. While that may be somewhat accurate, country music’s beginnings are as diverse as Ellis Island.
You see country music was created from European and African influences. Immigrants came to the United States bringing with them some of the treasured instruments from their home land. It was this diverse mix of musical heritage and instruments that created what we now call country music. The Irish brought with them the fiddle. Germans had the dulcimer. The Italians played the mandolin. The Spaniards strummed the guitar. And the West Africans introduced us to the banjo.
It was this combination of unique musical sounds and styles that created country music, but in addition to just the melodies the songs they would write about would be memories of where they came from and where they wanted to go. Home was paramount to these immigrants. Both the home they came from and the new one they wanted to start were worthy of song.
Dierks Bentley’s Grammy-nominated song, Home, I think carries some of that original influence and it’s not surprising other country artists continue to make it a core part of their most popular tunes.
So whether it’s Carrie Underwood singing Temporary Home or Bon Jovi trying to be country with Who Says You Can’t Go Home or Tammy Wynette & George Jones harmonizing in Two Story House, I think it’s safe to say home will forever have a place in country music.
Header image courtesy of Flickr user quitoriano_angela