This week at The Avid Listener, we’d like to introduce you to yet another new author: Joel Zigman.* Joel’s essay, called “‘Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)’: Building (trans)Masculinity Through Top 40 Country Music,” is personal, a reflection of his love affair with Country music, a love affair that bloomed at a transitional moment in Joel’s life. This essay is about Top 40 Country, but it’s also about how gender, class, and place work in Country music. It’s about Texas, and cowboys / cowgirls, and self-representation. And it’s about the ever-relevant truth that music helps to shape how we see our connections to society.
Here’s a teaser:
“Country music is the communal property of this proud, resisting working class, belonging to the everyday life of its primary audience far more so than the Nashville stars and executives that produce it. It also serves as a cultural symbol and proxy for the country persona. This means that all who care to listen are served an open invitation to take ownership of and participate in the fantasy of the country boy or girl. Because country music sounds out a working-class subjectivity, it projects all the aspects of that perspective. For example, because working-class people often perform jobs that involve manual labor, they tend to rely more on nonverbal communication through gestures and body movements. This focus on actions makes gender in country music practical, performed, and tangible. There’s a transparent formula to follow: beer, whiskey, femme worship, trucks, hats, sweet tea, boots.”
Read the entire essay here. Stay tuned for our next essay, “Deaf-Blindness and the Avid Musical Touch of Helen Keller” by Stefan Sunandan Honisch. This essay is scheduled to be published on October 17.
As a reminder: we are always looking for new authors. If you have an idea, you would like to pitch, contact me!
*Avid readers may recall that another essay was slotted for publication today. We had to make a substitution and moved Joel’s essay up by 2 weeks in the schedule. We apologize to readers who depend on the digest for class preparation. We will adjust the digest in the coming weeks to reflect the changed publication schedule.
The Avid Listener. Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.