Lonestar, get fucked.

I grew up on country music.

I have memories of listening to The Judds while we boiled fish and vegetables in our backyard for an amazing meal. We had dart tournaments while Keith Whitley and K.T. Oslin played on the speakers. My grandmother and I used to talk about what a hussy Lorrie Morgan was. The first celebrity I ever met was Hal Ketchum and when we saw him live the next day he nodded at me as if to say, “Good to see you again little dude”. For fuck’s sake I went to see GARTH BROOKS.

I used to love country music. I still like to play some old George, Clint, McBride & the Ride and Allen Jackson every once in a while.

But when the ’00s hit, everything changed. Country singers lost their balls. Their voiced got higher pitched. GOD WAS EVERYWHERE. If you didn’t sing how you rode a tractor and prayed, you could go fuck yourself.

The Dixie Chicks were the biggest thing on the planet for a couple years. Then they came out against right-wing politics and no one has heard of them since. Seriously, I used to love their tunes but they may as well have dropped off the face of the planet.

Today I drove around with a girl who had two CDs. One was Taylor Swift’s latest. I sorta (100%) love it. She can’t stand it.

So we play this other motherfucking album. Some (…I’m not kidding, I’m sorta shaking with rage…) piece of shit “artist” who falls into the category of assholes who sold their soul by singing sensitive shit to farm-wives and delusional metro men who wish they were cowboys.

I have only one response to that. Read the awful shit in his latest single:

He gets up before the dawn
Packs a lunch and a thermos full of coffee
It’s another day in the dusty haze
Those burnin’ rays are wearing down his body
And diesel’s worth the price of gold
And it’s the cheapest grain he’s ever sold
But he’s still holding on

CHORUS
He just takes the tractor another round
And pulls the plow across the ground
And sends up another prayer
He says Lord I never complain I never ask why
But please don’t let my dream run dry
Underneath, Underneath this
Amarillo sky

That hail storm back in ’83
Sure did take a toll on his family
But he stayed strong and carried on
Just like his dad and grandad did before him
On his knees every night he prays
Please let my crops and children grow
Cause that’s all he’s ever known

CHORUS
He just takes the tractor another round
And pulls the plow across the ground
And sends up another prayer
He says Lord I never complain I never ask why
But please don’t let my dream run dry
Underneath, Underneath this
Amarillo sky

And he takes the tractor another round
Another round, another round
And he takes the tractor another round
Another round
He says I never complain I never ask why
But please don’t let my dreams run dry
Underneath, underneath this
Amarillo Sky

Underneath this
Amarillo sky

This is the most popular song by the genre’s most popular artist. I honestly want you to download this piece of shit song, illegally of course. Give it a listen. Then I want you to ask yourself how anyone could possibly enjoy this shit.

I used to love country tunes. The difference is back then someone got shitty, a person got their shit fucked up and a gun was involved when talking about a relationship.

Now, someone prays and they ride a tractor. Or something.

Playlist 101

So you’re a dude and you’re going to be picking your date up for the first time. What music are you gonna rock? You can’t rely on that shit you’ve been blasting in your little Toyota the last six months. This is SERIOUS and requires a certain amount attention and thought.

In fact, this isn’t just for dates. This is for those occasions when ANY reasonably attractive young female happens to get a ride in your ride. Giving her a lift across town? Picking a friend up for brunch? Roadtrip? In times like these there is music you play, and music you don’t. Think you’re gonna win her heart by having Kris Roe serenade her to some overly-emo acoustic rendition of Your Boyfriend Sucks? NO. She’s gonna be uncomfortable and you’re gonna look like an asshole.

Oh? You say you want to send out some kind of message with your choice in music? That’s perfectly fine! But it’s got to be subtle, my friend. You gotta have that gal thinking,

“Oh, this is nice. He’s got good taste in music. I’m gonna have to illegally pirate this when I get home…”

and when she least expects it, on the 15th time listening to that very song, BAM, that tune reminds her of YOU. It’s THAT EASY. But for god’s sake, man, be judicious in your choice of tunes. For your aid, here is a guide.

1 – No Barry White. No Isley Brothers. No mood music WHATSOEVER.

2 – Nothing that has the potential to induce a headache. You may like Fat Wreck beats, but it could sound like a machine gun to the lovely by your side.

3 – Skip the sensitive stuff. Like you some Ben Jelen, Straylight Run or that one country “artist” who sings about pickup trucks and slow dancing and his dead dog and Jesus? FORGET ABOUT IT.

4 – Nothing you should have stopped enjoying in high school or (ugh) junior high. Hey, I have no problem rocking out to 80s hair metal or rapping Westside Conection. But NOT in front of a date who’s sitting there wondering how I’m only going through that musical period now in my late 20s.

5 – No boy bands, no Kelly Clarkson, no Michelle Branch, no Avril Lavigne, no Hilary Duff. This one is particularly painful, as every CD I’ve ever made has had some of the above on it. But TIME and PLACE, people.

6 – No garage bands, no under-produced indie tunes. I can appreciate some Lucky 7, Mineral or Jawbreaker. Your girl may even like that kind of stuff. A first or second or third date is not the time to find out. More people than not just find that shit completely awful.

“But Matt! What the eff AM I allowed to soothe her ear-holes with?!”

Well, Matt, I’m glad you asked. Here are some tips:

• Be respectful of her musical tastes. This is a little tough if you have no idea what she likes, but if you have a general idea, try not to go too far outside her comfort zone.

• But stay true to what you like! What kind of music you listen to is at least a partial indicator of who you are (SHIT!). So represent.

• If you’re gonna introduce her to a new band or artist, do so with the mindset that it should probably be accessible. I love Thrice. I loved Identity Crisis and the Illusion of Safety. If I’m gonna introduce a gal to the musical genius that is Dustin Kensrue, I’m probably gonna chose something a little smoother and easier on the ears. Something chill but still illustrates serious musical talent. Pick a song that makes you think, “No way she couldn’t POSSIBLY love this”.

• Peaks and valley’s, my friend. Don’t follow Ryan Adams up with Pete Yorn. Take it up a notch, take it a little higher then bring it back down. This is Playlist 101.

• Give your CD a little variety. I’d stick to one song per artist if possible, and I’d use multiple genres. A little hip-hop, maybe some R&B, some pop tunes, definitely a good amount of rock. Don’t stick to one kind of music.

• Include some tracks you’re positive you’ll never even play. They’re just there as an excuse to hit Next on the CD player. Be careful with this song, though! Nothing too recognizable. Can’t have the first few bars from I Want it That Way come out of your speakers. Choose a rock song, something with some guts.

• Have not one, but TWO disks ready to go! Genius, RIGHT?

Don’t think I was gonna let you go at this cold. Here’s two sample playlists:

1 – Jimmy Eat World – Sweetness
2 – Thrice – Come all you weary
3 – Orianthi – Drive away
4 – Atmosphere – Modern man’s hustle
5 – Blakroc – Tellin’ Me Things
6 – Lady Gaga – Paparzzi
7 – Ryan Adams – Wonderwall
8 – The Vines – Ride
9 – Lupe Fiasco – Never Lies
10 – Brand New – Jude Law and a semester abroad
11 – Damone – Now is the time
12 – The Transplants – Diamonds and Guns
13 – Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood
14 – Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue
15 – Phantom Planet – Big Brat
16 – Surgarcult – Memory

1 – The Bravery – Believe
2 – Lily Allen – Smile
3 – Augustana – Stars and Boulevards
4 – Dustin Kensrue – Please come home
5 – Kings of Leon – Use somebody
6 – Weezer – No other one
7 – Rihanna – Rude boy
8 – Stereophonics – Minute Longer
9 – Pete Yorn – Just Another
10 – Metric – Black Sheep
11 – Bouncing Souls – True Believer
12 – Jack’s Mannequin – Dark Blue
13 – Thrice – The Whaler
14 – Zero 7 – In the Waiting Line
15 – The Veronicas – Untouched

BOOM.

Here’s to drinking some great French Roast in 2011!

My favorite show of all-time is the West Wing. Recently I was re-watching an episode I’d seen many times in the past and a scene stuck out like a sore thumb.

Josh comes home to see Amy sitting on his front steps waiting for him. Josh had become sort of infatuated with her but instead of just asking Amy out he had come up with ridiculous reasons for the two to meet up. We’re talking legislative meetings on Capital Hill kinds of reasons. Even worse, his guy friends knowingly aided and abetted this behavior.

When it becomes apparent that Amy has had enough and decides to make the move herself Josh explains,

“I missed something or it’s like I skipped a year ’cause I never learned what you do after you think you like somebody, what you do next. And everybody did learn. A lot of other people, anyway.”

I thought to myself, “Shit. That’s me.” I don’t know how it happened, but I somehow managed to go through high school and college without ever figuring that out.

I’m a guy who’s fallen into nearly every relationship he’s ever been in. Through a series of unlikely circumstances, they just sort of…happened.  Only once has it been different. I asked a girl to see a movie, she accepted, long-term relationship began. But even that only happened after months of crushing/scheming did I finally nut up and ask her out. The simple “Sure” felt a little anticlimactic.

The frustrating thing is dating, doing the relationship thing…that’s the easy part. The truth is once I’m in a relationship, it’s really only ever gone well. I can’t say I’ve had a bad one. When they end it isn’t out of some mutual hate or distrust or apathy or a falling out. There have always been extenuating circumstances which forced the hand of someone. No blame, just reality.

No, my issue stems at the beginning. Like our boy Josh on the TV show, the challenge is simply knowing how to get that first date.

In theory, I should be better at this. Many of my best friends in college were women. Most of my friends right now certainly are. I used to think that all the insight into their heads was inherently some kind of benefit. Now I’m starting to think it was a curse. All that time spent listening to them talk about their boyfriends and what they want in a guy and how they obsess over every last thing a man does has left me fucking paranoid. Paralysis by analysis? Yea.

It might be a different story if guys actually talked about this stuff, but we really don’t. It doesn’t come up with my brother. I’ve done some bitching with co-workers before, but it’s typical guy shit and meaningless. My best friends and I don’t even bring women up unless it’s something like, “So your sister is off limits right?” or “Do you even remember making out with [insert name here] last night?”.

Ugh.

But anyway, all this has been on my mind lately because of how useless I’ve been regarding a girl I’m going out with in a couple days. Like the “Sure” girl above, this one could probably would have accepted an invitation for a date a while ago if I had simply asked her. Instead I spent a weekend wondering if I should, then getting help from a friend on exactly what I should say.

“Hey, wanna get coffee?” would have been all it took.

Regardless of how the date turns out, I’m making this my New Year’s resolution: more fucking coffee dates.