July always makes me think about growing up in Nebraska. I didn't grow up in the country; I was born and raised in the suburbs of Omaha, which is a standard midsize midwestern city. But even though there weren't many horses and cows in my vicinity, there were still a lot of corn fields, dirt roads, pick'em-up trucks and cowboy hats. My family wasn't into country music, or really any music, to be honest. My parents didn't really play music in the car, or at home, outside of Christmas music in December. My grandma though, she loooved her country music. The Nashville Network is the only thing I ever remember playing on her TV and it was always on. I loved it. We'd watch The Grand Ole Opry and all the old country stars.
When I got older though, I didn't care for the country music that my friends listened to - Garth Brooks, George Strait and the like. It all just sounded kind of boring and bland. It wasn't till around college that I discovered older country, like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton.
Which brings me to the July Playlist. I hadn't listened to much country music for quite awhile, but by chance a month or two ago, I came across a picture of Orville Peck on Instagram . I was immediately delighted by his leather fringe mask, which a friend described as a cross between the Hamburglar and the Scrubby Bubbles. I quickly looked him up and read about his music, fervently hoping that his music would be as good as his fashion sense. Much to my relief, his album Pony hooked me after a single listen.
Orville Peck's album reminded me of what I had liked about that old country music - it was music for people who don't quite fit - misfits among groups of people, of trends and of genres. For example, in Orville Peck's songs, lovers are referred to as both "he" and "she." And country music is like that too - it is flexible enough to blend with genres as disparate as punk and folk. It's a genre that historically held space for rebels and misfits.
And you might wonder, for a jewelry maker I spend a lot of time writing about music versus, say, JEWELRY, but for me, it's all part of the same thing. Jewelry and fashion are ways of not only self-expression, but of sorting yourself into groups that you belong. All the time people say, "oh, I can't pull that off!" which is a way of saying, I am not comfortable being the type of person who wears that - that's not who I am. Whereas when we see some jewelry or dress that we love, getting it can feel like it will better express who we are, as if to say "I am the type of person who wears [leopard print / bold necklaces / ____fill in the blank]. Music is like that, too. Finding new music is like shopping. Just like wearing the right clothes can make you more confident when you go out, listening to music that speaks to you can make you feel understood and even make you feel a kinship to other people who like the same music.
That being said, this is not a Country Playlist. I don't even think most of it qualifies as Alt Country. It's a playlist of misfits for misfits by a misfit (moi). Take a listen and let me know what you think in the comments.