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How to become a country music star in thirty miles.


On the heels of Saturday’s abysmal race, and taking into account that I will have no races scheduled in the books until I move to Alaska at the end of the month, I have decided to use this week as a recovery week. It isn’t actually turning out to include a whole lot of resting, but there has been plenty of cross-training and no running so far.

Let’s talk about the stationary bike.

 Just kidding, we won’t actually do very much of that. 

The best thing about locking myself in the basement with an old stationary bike at 7 am is that I can watch TV while I bike.

The best thing about watching TV while I bike is Country Music Television.

Video after video after video of rugged men in cowboy hats, people slow-motion running through fields, smiling farmer’s daughter types with long hair, sunlight vistas, fun, and slide guitar.

This isn’t Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline or Alabama. This is fake, fun, saccharine pop-country: I’m talking Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley, and I’d be a liar if I claimed I don’t adore every second of it.

I spent about 90 unreasonably sweaty minutes on that bike this morning, so I had the opportunity to become well-versed in a few of the elements I will need in order to become a true country music star.


1. Write the right song. An all-star country song should have first-time listeners singing along with it by the second chorus. Not because the lyrics are clever or the chord progression is out of this world, but because the words are easy to remember if you are over the age of five. Predictable rhymes are a bonus. If you manage to work in some kind of groan-worthy tagline in the chorus that everyone can shout along with, you will truly hit it out of the park.

Today’s examples are “Ticks” by Brad Paisley and “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer” by Billy Currington.

He sings about liking his Bud Lights "cold and tall" and is fairly self-satisfied whenever he delivers that line. But don't be distracted by that particular lyric, because the title line is the showstopper here.

  • Why it works: Brad and Billy help us out by putting their groan-worthy chorus taglines right in the title. It’s easier when you are prepared for the lyrics beforehand. Billy makes the additional text-book lyrical move of including a reference to beer, which means he’s a smart man, because I’m pretty sure the last song of his that got overplayed on the radio involved the lyrics “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.” He knows that referencing beer will bring on the money and the honeys, and he intends to milk that keg for all it’s worth.

2. Target your audience (males). American pride and blue-collar workers are two surefire song subjects if you are a middle-aged male country singer. Today’s examples are: “Hard Hat and a Hammer” by Alan Jackson, “American Ride” by Tobey Keith, and “Shift Work” by Kenny Chesney

  • Why it works: Because Stone Cold says so.

Target your audience (females). Getting back at your loser of a lover is a surefire song topic if you are a cute young female country singer. Today’s examples are “Red High Heels” by Kelly Pickler and “White Liar” by Miranda Lambert.

He's been cheating on her with every gal in the audience, so she's about to throw her flowers at him and then go kiss his best man.

  • Why it works: It doesn’t matter that Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” was played on a continuous loop on every single country or pop radio station for about two months straight in 2007. We females never seem to tire of singing along with a twangy “screw you” at any proverbial heart breakers.


3. If you are female, you must have long wavy or curly hair. There is no short, edgy, angled, hipster hair allowed in country music. Today’s examples: Every single video that had a girl in it.

  • Why it works: Look, one can’t be expected to run slow motion through a wheat field with hair like the girl from Paramour. It just doesn’t fit the mold. 

Unfortunately for the girl from Paramour, Reba McEntire already occupies the "short, orange hair" country niche. As you can see, it's not conducive to field running or looking smiley and cute at a backwoods bonfire.

  •  Meanwhile, in “Innocence,” Sara Buxton demonstrates proper hair technique coupled with slow-motion field running:

With very few exceptions, successful country songs from female singers involve long flowy hair and joyful gallivanting through fields of wildflowers.

  • Taylor Swift displays the same method in “Tim McGraw.”

Isn't this just wholesome and youthful and adorable?

4. On second thought, shortish frizzy blond hair works, too. This must be the country-music version of hipster. Today’s examples are “Little White Church” by Little Big Town and “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry.

They are, in fact, completely different people.

  •  Why it works: I have no idea. Must be one of those fads.


Well, I’m running out of themes and unless you enjoy Top 40 country, you are probably running out of patience for this post and all of the country music video links. 

But the best part of this whole stationary bike/CMT arrangement is that I can belt out the songs while watching. I imagine that it really speeds along the process of getting into oxygen debt on the “hills” setting of the stationary bike, because I end up gasping for breath in between lines. The benefit of this as a future country music star is that it’s good training for learning to sing while being out of breath from jumping around and stamping my cowboy boots on stage.

What’s your favorite country song? I’ve gotten into the annoying habit of name-dropping Alabama’s “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas” whenever the topic of country music comes up. I just love this song that much, especially the end. Never mind that I’ve never set foot in Texas. I lived in Georgia for a year, so maybe that gives me a slice of country street cred?  

What’s your favorite cross-training method? Rowing and cross country skiing, for me.

If you watch TV while you cross-train, what do you watch? Or what would you watch?


14 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/11/2010 13:50

    I absolutely HATE country music! Haha.

  2. 08/11/2010 14:08

    Despite living in Texas I do not listen to much country. I do like Garth Brooks’, “Friends in Low Places” though.

  3. 08/11/2010 15:00

    I hate country music even more than running skirts (read: a lot), but this post is still awesome.

    • 08/11/2010 18:57

      Oh yeah? Well, country music hates you back. Jesus loves you though. Several country songs have informed me of this.

  4. 08/11/2010 15:39

    country is AWESOME! i really think i should not be living in new england haha

    • 08/11/2010 19:01

      Hahaha that’s right, you’re the one who had the “boot in your ass” Toby Keith song on your page for Fourth of July. Good form. 🙂

  5. 08/11/2010 21:05

    This is kind of hysterical and terrifying all at the same time. I’ve really never listened to much country, although my mom got on a Dixie Chicks bender when that movie came out. I can only take so many ballads about your truck breaking down.

  6. 08/12/2010 08:49

    Hahaha. You are all set to become the next big thing! Alaska’s first country-music singer, perhaps?

  7. 08/12/2010 10:17

    Is that Rob Zombie in the wedding photo??? I admit I have seen Toby Keith and Brad Paisley in concert and sang drunkenly along with every song. (don’t tell any of my metal friends please!)

    And I really need to make better use of photo alt tags. A big WORD UP to you, lady.

  8. 12/21/2011 20:35

    i love countey western music

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