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MUS 354: Unit Five Week Two The Voice of the Singer-Songwriter Task: Take a country singer and explore how they expressed the meaning both of the songs and of themselves through the categories of music, biography, lyrics, visual imagery and speech. Select a country singer-songwriter. Try to find one that mostly writes their own material (Zac Brown Band, Dixie Chicks, George Strait “The King of Country, etc.) Find some background information Listen to their songs. Watch videos (if available) Read their lyric Give us a sample of ways that he/she/they express themselves through their music, using specific examples. You can be creative in your presentation.   Example: Kacey Musgraves   Music – Kaci communicates that she is a legitimate country artist through the use of instruments like the mandolin and acoustic and electric guitars as well as rhythms typical of country music. You can hear some blues in “Blowin’ Smoke” Kaci also sings with a twang. In “Blowin’ Smoke” Kacey uses a more driving intense beat to communicate the pain and hurt by the pointlessness. In “Merry Go ‘Round” Kacy uses a lighter sound, more mandolin and lighter acoustic instruments. This likely is to evoke a more wistful impression, wishing that things were different. This song has a slow rocking feel, like rocking a baby to sleep. It might mean that people get caught up in the rhythm of life and it’s hard to shake the boat. In the opening of “The Trailer Song” In “Merry Go ‘Round,” usually Kacey ends the chorus with “merry go ‘round.” But at the end, she ends in the middle of a verse, “And Mary had a little lamb. Mary just don’t give a damn no more.” Perhaps this symbolizes that the merry go round stopped before the end, or whoever was pushing just gave up. Biography – Kacey’s songs have constant themes of the realities of small town life. She does not sugar coat or romanticize rural or small town life like many other artists. The only way she could know that is if she actually lived it! You can especially see this in “Go Back to Your Trailer.” From her website, Kacey grew up in Golden, Texas, population of 600. kaceymusgraves.com/about  (Links to an external site.) Lyrics Kacey sings about “blowin smoke” to talk about the pointlessness of the people in her story. They talk about dreams and big plans, but are stuck just working minimum wage jobs and taking smoke breaks. They seem to want to quit, but even with quitting they are not able to follow through. The “hook” in “Merry Go ‘Round” is actually “hooked.” “Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay. Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane. Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down. In “The Trailer Song” Kacey sings “Keep your two cents on your side of the fence.” In small town life, “two cents” mean someone’s opinion. Translation: “Keep your opinion to yourself.” She uses “ain’t” frequently. You just cannot say “isn’t” in a country song. In “Mama’s Broken Heart” Kacey refers to current events to express how she ‘should’ react, “Like a Kennedy when Camelot when down in flames.” She refers to make up a lot in recovering from a break up because in a small town, it is ALL about image. You don’t take out the trash without your makeup on. Image is everything. Visual Imagery – Her dress in performances is more simple and classy, but not gaudy, at least in her Opry performance, though her short white boots say she is “country” if she’s in doubt. More casual dress in her informal performance. Perhaps contemporary country artists want to dress more like “regular people.” The guitar player is actually wearing a baseball cap instead of a cowboy hat meaning a change from rural to suburban or urban values, at least in dress. Speech – She uses the word awesome in the introduction her song at the Opry. This is definitely a more modern expression.   “Merry Go ‘Round” Music video by Kacey Musgraves YouTube: Kacey Musgraves – Merry Go 'Round (Official Music Video)  (Links to an external site.)   “Blowin’ Smoke” Music video by Kacey Musgraves YouTube: Kacey Musgraves – Blowin' Smoke (Official Music Video)  (Links to an external site.)

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