Saturday's headliner is a major one: Tim Mcgraw. His new album drops later this year, but we have a sneak preview of the lyrics of one of the new songs, called "You Had To Be There," a powerful story about a young man confronting his father in prison about the father's absence during his formative years. Let's take a look:
"And you'd have to go back, and teach me how when i was nine
Cause my mama couldn't throw a ball even if she had the time.
I should have been learning how to fish, instead of learning how to smoke.
I bet if you'd of whoopped my tail, i'd never thought it was a joke"
Richard: "As in many country songs, McGraw's endorsement of 'old-fashioned' family values also necessitates the embrace of gender stereotypes (women can't pitch) and patriarchal domination (the young man, disturbingly, longs for corporal punishment, to have his tail 'whooped'). In our glimpse of the young man's juvenile delinquency ("learning how to smoke") we realize that the sins of the father are, indeed, visited upon the child. This is a powerful work."
Chip: "McGraw is right. It needs to be the fathers who beat the children. If you pass through Forttt Scottt's Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon, you'll see that it's mostly the mothers doing the 'whooping', since they are the ones who do the shopping."
Cl.thier (we think, taken from the comments section, writing as "Jennie Finch"):
McGraw's lyrics, besides being riddled with powerful identity assumptions and grammatical blunders, raise another question: if the boy is able to seek out peers or role models to teach him to smoke, why not peers or role models to teach him how to throw a ball? Perhaps more problematic, if the mother is incapable of throwing a ball because of her gender, then shouldn't the boy, because of his inherent masculinity, just naturally know how to throw a ball without having to be taught? McGraw seems to contradict himself - are cultural practices like ball-throwing inherently masculine, or are they learned masculine behaviors?
I also found the "tail-whooping" desire strangely homoerotic, given the father's own imprisonment in an environment where "tail-whooping" takes on an entirely different meaning. Is the song ultimately the boy's complaint that the father's absence has played a role or is the determining factor in the boy's sexuality? He can't throw a ball and he yearns for a "tail-whooping" given by a male authority figure. In the hyper-masculine world of country music (ignoring, of course, Rascal Flatts), these traits are basically code for "gay". So, should McGraw be praised for his portrayal of an openly-gay speaker, or is this just a veiled way of saying deadbeat dads turn sons gay. Perhaps McGraw's "The Cowboy in Me" contains more of McGraw's homosexual undertones. Hmmm. Country music is so...deep...and penetrating. Deep and penetrating - that's how I like my male country singers.
Perhaps jealous of Forttt Scottt's recent Guinness World Record for laying the most pennies on the ground, Larryville is feeling the need for a record of its own. On July 8, the city will attempt to host the world's largest ever community workout. However, Larryville's record is not going to be as "official." The LJ-World explains:
"Organizers of LiveWell Lawrence contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to make them aware of the event, but found too much red tape to pass in making it an official record at this point. Rather, the community is declaring it a world record, challenging other cities to organize a bigger event."
Chip: "If the organizers are too lazy to fill out a couple of forms, I have no real confidence that this is going to be an effective workout."