I did not grow up listening to Country and Western music. Mostly I had my mother's old LPs from the '50s and '60s. (If you don't know what an LP is you are just TOO YOUNG!) I had a few singles on 45s of 'modern day music' you know, the '70s. I listened to musicals. I knew all the words to Grease, Oklahoma and Annie. The only Country music I did listen to was a record my Grandfather gave me. The Best of John Denver (1974). I got that record on my 6th birthday, a month before we moved to the farm and I became an actual Country Gal.
Then I become a teenager in the '80s and listened to all sorts of bad music. My first grown up album was Freeze-Frame by J. Geils (1981). Piss on the Wall is still a favorite song!
The '90s saw a 20-something year old me, living on my own and checking out the bar scenes for the first time. Madonna, Prince, C+C Music Factory and various other dance music helped the nights go by like long, strange, sexy aerobic work outs.
But then the summer of '93 happened. In our intimate circle of friends, it is still referred to as "THAT" summer, even though it's been 16 years. A lot of stuff happened that summer. Some good, some bad, some awful, some strange.
THAT summer 4 20-something-year old lesbians ended up working in a straight Country and Western bar in Parkdale, Toronto. In the early '90s Parkdale was a pretty scary place. In fact I think it was the second worse area in Toronto for crime, drugs, prostitution and murder. In other words, a perfect place for 4 young women to hang out at night.
There were actually 2 bars, side by side. The smaller one had a few tables, some bar stools, a pool table and barrels of peanuts that you could eat and just drop the shells on the floor. The bigger one had a front room of tables and a back room with a dance floor and stage. During the day and on week nights I worked either at the small bar or at the front of the big one. The big bar's appeal to customers was the $0.90 draft. If you ever been a waitress or bartender you know that this translates into a $0.10 tip. It was not a very lucrative job.
The good money was made on Friday and Saturday nights. The back room would be packed, filled with smoke, leering dirty men with too many hands and karaoke. Country and Western Karaoke. My main job on those nights was "Shooter Girl". I had a metal tray that held test tubes of various concoctions hung around my neck, conveniently balance on my, then, very ample bosom. That may have been why Friday and Saturday nights were much more lucrative.
And during all of this strangeness something happened. It was a slow transition, so I didn't really notice it at first. It started with occasional toe-tapping. Then I would catch myself signing along every now and then. Finally there would be the smile that creeps across your face when you hear a song you really liked. And it hit me.
I liked Country and Western music!
Now I don't like ALL country music. I like some old stuff, I like novelty songs, I like some occasional new stuff. And since that summer I haven't really listened to Country and Western. I still love John Denver, I have Dwight Yoakum's "Looking for a Hit" cd on my I-Pod right now. And Hilary recently introduced me to the Dixie Chicks' "Earls Gotta Die". Now that's a song that gets this country gal's toes tapping!.
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