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Country Summer Anthems

by Cyndi Hoelzle

Country Summer Anthems

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It used to be that country singers left the summer odes to The Beach Boys.

There were a few exceptions, of course -- Roger Miller’s jaw-dropping “In the Summertime” and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s classic “Fishing in the Dark” -- but for the most part, country songs were all about dim lights, thick smoke and loud, loud music, not sunlight, tequila and sparkling water.

Ah, but times have changed. You could blame Jimmy Buffett if you want: His influence on the current generation of country singers is profound. Ten years ago, Alan Jackson released the Buffett duet “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” and since then, artists like Kenny Chesney have elevated the country beach song to its own subgenre.

At the risk of losing my honky-tonk credentials, I’m declaring this a good development, and not just because I can’t resist grooving along to Zac Brown singing, “I’ve got my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand."

Country summer subgenres include party-down-the-dirt-road anthems and remember-the-summers-when-we-were-young songs. When done right, I even like those. Heck, Roger Miller would have loved the syncopation of a line like Jake Owen's “We were shining like lighters in the dark in the middle of a rock show.”

It’s a brave new feel-good world, country fans. So whether you’re struggling through finals or just dreaming about the good old days when the words “school’s out” meant actual freedom, this one’s for you.

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