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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Meanwhile, in “Innocence,” Sara Buxton demonstrates proper hair technique coupled with slow-motion field running:
- Taylor Swift displays the same method in “Tim McGraw.”
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.
- 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?