It is not news that the men of country music have gone the way of the Internet. That is to say, they only write about hot ladies who don’t actually exist. Don’t get it twisted, I love me some Blake Shelton. He’s tall, loud, and says “Yes ma’am.” But if I’m looking to him for some sort of 1990’s Garth Brooks “No Fences” quality stuff, then I’m up a country creek without a paddle. No, Blake and his buddies Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, and other guys with made up names almost singularly record songs about long legged women and whiskey drinking that just won’t quit. Their songs point to some fantasy land where the ladies are young and frisky with a constant penchant for coming out of water slowly in a bikini or dancing on tables in cut off shorts (like I said, the Internet).

In fact, the fantastic lady duo Maddie and Tae wrote a brilliant (and successful!) song about this very issue. And if you haven’t heard it, then you are welcome. Ladies and Gentlemen, “Girl in a Country Song”

These talented women point to the creative genius of the feminine in country music. The genre has always been the perfect medium for storytelling. And with the exception of an era that I shall only call Canadian Shania, I think the ladies of Nashville have consistently held down the joint. I remember hearing my grandmother sing everyone from Tammy Wynette to St. Patsy Cline as she stood by the kitchen sink washing dishes. And I believe that Reba McEntire’s “Fancy” is the greatest song ever sung. Now, as a born again Texan who drives a lot, I listen to my fair share of Top 40 Country music. But if I hear one more dude sing a thinly veiled lyric about having sex with his ladyfriend in the back of an F-150 I’m going to write a strongly worded letter to heaven and tell Johnny Cash he needs to start haunting the hell out of Luke Bryan.

Anyway. Like I was saying. The women of country music are and always have been the business. They still let themselves speak the truth with a heavy side of opinion. Sometimes, I feel like they are in this strange conversation with their male counterparts. “You suggest I wear a bikini and cut offs whilst drinking? Well, I’ll see that completely limited view of my womanhood and raise you an actual song about actual things.”


Miranda Lambert has done a marvelous job of this for many years. She has long been unafraid to sing about life’s heartache. The woman does “hell hath no fury” like she’s teaching a class. I’ve already sung praises for her “(Not Your) Mama’s Broken Heart.” It is so much fun.

But Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” is one of those songs that pops up exactly when I need it. She gets what it’s like to leave the safety of home and to know that you can’t get that feeling back again:

You leave home, you move on
And you do the best you can
I got lost in this whole world

And forgot who I am
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

With that said, as of late Carrie Underwood has been my go to girl for country church. Her first stanza of “Smoke Break” is my new Mama has had a long day and needs a glass of Chardonnay anthem:

She’s a small-town, hard-working woman just trying to make a living
Working three jobs, feeding four little mouths in a run-down kitchen
When you never taking nothing and doing nothing but giving
It’s hard to be a good wife and a good mom and a good Christian

She said, I don’t drink
But sometimes I need a stiff drink
Sipping from a high, full glass
Let the world fade away
She said, I don’t smoke
But sometimes I need a long drag
Yeah, I know it might sound bad
But sometimes I need a smoke break

And lest you think she only writes for the girls:

He’s a big-city, hard-working man just trying to climb the ladder
First generation to go to college instead of driving a tractor
Never had nothing handed to him on a silver platter
It’s hard to be a good man, good son, do something good that matters

He said, I don’t drink
But sometimes I wanna pop that top
Take a swig and make the world stop
And watch it fade away
He said, I don’t smoke
But sometimes I wanna light it up
Yeah, when things get tough
Sometimes I need a smoke break, yeah

I’m not holding my breath for the men of country to make a bold and creative comeback. But thanks to Carrie and Miranda, I don’t have to. In an industry where sexy tractors reign supreme, these women have managed to keep being truth tellers for those of us who long to hear it. They unabashedly sing about the trials of life without an amorous truck in sight. Imagine that.