Older man with black hat, white hair and beard, sunglasses, sitting on a chair on stage with his arms spread wide with lots of tattoos and a red rock and roll electric guitar on his lap

One of the unrecognized benefits of music is its value as an anthropological tool. Music functions as the soundtrack of a culture, identifying norms and taboos and painting a vivid picture of the lives of its listeners. Music is also invaluable for keeping tabs on the present. For example, according to, there are an estimated 118 million country music fans in the United States. Other than folk legends about a place called “Tennessee” and some unpaid water bills, we know very little about these people.

In the early 70’s, anthropologists Steve Goodman and David Allen Coe performed the first real musical research on the subject, the results of which were eventually published in song format as “You Never Even Called Me by My Name.” According to Goodman and Coe, country music fans in the 70’s were a primitive culture centered around mama, trains, trucks, prison and getting drunk.

Although groundbreaking, Goodman and Coe’s research is now nearly 45 years old. In an effort to bring it up to date, I spent two weeks listening to 92.3 WCOL, Columbus’ #1 for New Country. My research was rewarded with a more current picture of what life is like for these millions living in Countryland. Here are some of my findings:

They are effective warriors. Male country music singers have a 100 percent success rate in fights. Mathematically, of course, this indicates that country music lovers can never fight each other, causing some uncertainty as to who exactly they are beating up. Probably liberals.

Males engage in bizarre initiation rituals. As a consequence of their repeated successful assaults, all country music singers have been kicked out of a bar at some point in the distant past. Particularly powerful males have received lifetime bans. These incidents are remembered fondly in later years.

They are peaceful. Although they are effective warriors, country music fans are a peaceful people. Although rumors have spread that they were in the past an aggressive culture who periodically invaded other countries, such sentiments are noticeably absent from the music of today. This may be because…

They are always drunk. Although male alcohol use has always been part of life in Countryland, consumption has become unisex and ratcheted up to a constant state of blotto. Country fans’ appetite for the sauce is both voracious and indiscriminate. From dawn through dusk they suck down any conceivable alcoholic beverage they can locate. Although cold beer, tequila, mixed drinks, and whiskey are preferred, no liquid is safe from their uncontrollable lust.

They have discovered refrigeration. Speaking of beer, it is never mentioned in a country music song without the adjective “cold,” or at times “ice cold.” The effect is that “coldbeer” has been rendered a compound noun, like “policeman” or “motorcycle.”

They have access to name brand soft drinks and mixing equipment. Country music songs continually reference the drink Jack and Coke, as well as other concoctions up to and including Crown and Sprite. To date there have not been any absinthe and Jolt Cola sightings.

They are intensely promiscuous. In Countryland, men cannot walk into a bar without seeing an attractive member of the opposite sex sitting by themselves at the bar drinking a coldbeer or Crown and Sprite. Offer to buy her a drink and the night will uniformly end in passionate love making. If you’re not down with indiscriminately screwing random strangers, stay out of the bars.

They mate for life. If a country music relationship can make it out of the drunken sex slog of the bars, it immediately becomes an intense relationship destined to last until the end of time. Being with this person is actually better than living in heaven, and even the way they say your name is sexy (which is sort of weird).

Except when they don’t. Although it seems inconsistent with lifetime relationships, breakups apparently do occur. The 1970’s breakup ritual reported by Goodman and Coe consisted of a bar, a bottle, and eventual lonely death from alcohol poisoning. This ritual has evolved considerably. The involuntary loss of a mate now requires an involved process of finding someone better looking than your ex, taking them to somewhere with a sandy beach and sunshine, and drinking coldbeer.

They have 100 percent employment. All country fans work 9-5, and they all work very hard until they die. Even though most of this work presumably involves the inebriated operation of heavy equipment, there are no workers’ compensation claims in Countryland.

They practice non-traditional religions. Country fans practice a modified form of conservative Christianity which contains a significant sin carved out for astonishing alcohol consumption and humping like rabbits. You are expected, however, to remain sober enough to not piss yourself in your pew on Sunday mornings.

It is hoped that further study of this fascinating culture will continue to reveal its mysteries and perpetuate our understanding of our wide and diverse planet.

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