Closet Country

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

They laugh along with all of the country music bashing jokes. Yet find them alone in the car, and they’re sure to flip to a country music station.

They’re closet country music fans.

The reason for secrecy in music preference has a lot to do with being cool, Jim Coull, instructor in music said.

“I think it’s just something that you have trouble getting kids to admit one way or the other, just because of the pressure to be hip,” he said.

Coull said he isn’t shy about his music preferences.

“I have no problems admitting that I like country music, and that’s generally what I listen to when I’m at home.”

He said he was raised on country. “I grew up in Pierre and that’s about all you could hear on the radio,” Coull said.

Occasionally, however, Coull said he is embarrassed by his music taste.

“In my business as a music teacher, there’s probably not many people that teach music at the college level that would like country music,” he said.

“That would be the only place that I don’t like to admit it. I probably should be expected to listen to something else, but I’m a bit of a redneck anyway,” he said.

He said he feels this pressure because of the stereotypes that country music carries with it.

“There are so many jokes about country being worthless. People look down their nose because it’s a perception.”

He said that as with any other type of music, such as Nirvana or rap, music is sending a message.

“There’s a whole different message in that music and there’s a tendency to look down on it.”

Peers also play a roll, he said.

“It depends a lot on the group they hang around with. It definitely has a negative connotation within a lot of groups.”

Coull said many college students who are closet country fans may come out about their preferences later in life.

Over a period of 20 years, he’s observed the changes students undergo.

“Later, they feel more free if they like to say they like it.”

Joslyn Else, a sophomore nursing student, is one closet country fan.

She said in groups when people are making fun of country music, she prefers to keep quiet. Later, though, she enjoys listening to the ridiculed music.

“I’m a country fan but I usually don’t admit it,” she said. “I listen to it in the car, in my room, on the radio.”

She said this is because of the stigma the music carries with it.

“It’s the number-one bashed type of music, and most people don’t enjoy it, so I don’t want to deal with all the teasing,” she said.

She thinks country music carries with it strong associations.

“The cowboys around here get ripped on a lot, and the other guys don’t want to have anything to do with that, so they don’t like to listen to that kind of music,” she said.

Else has another theory on why country music is disliked.

“It’s a lot of romantic type of stuff, and some people don’t like to admit they like that kind of music,” she said.

This romantic element, however, is exactly what draws Else to the music.

“I like country because the songs always seem to tell a story and the most romantic songs I’ve ever heard were country songs.”

Coull enjoys country music for other reasons.

“I think what appeals to me about it is its simplicity. The lyrics talk about things I’m interested in hearing about. There’s nice melodies and straight forward good songs,” he said.

Coull prefers older country and noticed the changes it has undergone.

“Back in the early seventies, there was starting to be some crossover, like the Eagles. Kind of a rock beat but it had a country sound. As it progressed, it had more rock elements?no fiddles and banjos.”

He said new country had different sound.

“You can hear the rock elements?the electric guitars, synthesizers, like Shania Twain, for example,” he said.

Else disagrees with Coull and thinks that new country is an improvement.

“I like the new stuff,” she said. “I don’t like any of the old stuff because it’s too twangy. I like Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Lone Star?oh yeah, and Garth Brooks, definitely,” she said.

“Ever since Garth Brooks started playing stuff it got really good.”

“It’s gotten way more upbeat, not so boring and twangy,” she said.

“There’s a lot more meaning to the songs. They pertain to life a lot more than they used to. There’s more instruments being used, which makes it sound pretty.”