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Why Isla Vista Needs A Country Band: Notes From A Recovering Country Hater

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

Until recently, I was country music’s #1 hater. This isn’t to say I’ve been converted — don’t get ahead of yourself. But to me, country music could only be cut from the same flannel-patterned cloth. 

Every song had lyrics about driving home in your Chevy pick-up truck with your denim-wearing girlfriend in the passenger seat with the tune of an acoustic guitar — and maybe a banjo, if you’re lucky. Picture a white man with a cowboy hat and a chin-strap beard. Who do you see? Tim McGraw? Luke Combs? Jason Aldean? The answer is all of the above. 

Country music felt unimaginative. The only thing I listened to that could be considered “country” was Taylor Swift’s first three albums, which shouldn’t even count because her accent is fake. The woman is from Pennsylvania for crying out loud! 

I thought all of this, and worse, about country music until last year, when I moved out of my honky-tonk hometown of Clovis, California. Clovis is an epicenter of California country, from a thriving Future Farmers of America community to an annual rodeo which is the Clovis equivalent of Coachella. 

In high school, as many angsty teens do, I hated my hometown. I couldn’t wait to escape its evil clutches. But as I’ve entered college and moved out of my dusty little rodeo town, I’ve started to yearn for the songs about Coors-Light and big green tractors

Last week when I was walking down Pardall Road, I could hear a band playing a sultry rendition of Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel.” I turned to my friend who I was walking with and said, “They’re ruining this song!”

It was like the ghost of every Clovis dad I’d ever encountered possessed my spirit at the same moment. I assured myself it was a blip, a moment of weakness and sentimentality. But as the week progressed, I found my thumbs hitting shuffle on Luke Bryan’s “Tailgates and Tanlines” album all on their own. 

I was becoming my own worst enemy, the very thing I had sworn to destroy. I was a lover of songs that use the word “mama” one too many times and that country twang. I knew the names of obscure southern towns that I should have no way of knowing

I was horrified by my predicament and began searching for remedies. I looped Drake for hours, I unblocked Justin Bieber on Instagram. Nothing was working and I became resigned to my new fate. My Spotify Wrapped was doomed to feature “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line.

Amelia Kramer-Golden Hour Country Road Trip
Amelia Kramer / Her Campus

But the more I listened, the more I realized that maybe this wasn’t a bad thing. An affinity for country music is a byproduct of my upbringing that I had yet to accept. My country renaissance had been a long time coming, it just took leaving to realize that. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all. 

So fond, in fact, that it has become exceedingly apparent to me how fun it would be for Isla Vista to have a country band for country lovers and tolerators alike. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting down to Travis Scott like the good UCSB student I am, but country music is upbeat and silly in the way that the musical selections on Del Playa Drive are just…not. 

Country music culture has so many fun traditions that I believe would be ten times more fun at UCSB. Imagine Hannah Montana’s Hoedown Throwdown but everyone is in Urban Outfitters corsets — welcome to UCSB line-dancing

We could have frat guys walking around in cowboy hats, flannel shirts to keep us warm during the frosty months of winter quarter, and leather boots to stomp through campus in. Imagine if we got rid of all of the cars in Isla Vista and invested in a well-kept stable. Parking would never be an issue, never mind those pesky IV drivers!

UCSB could be the textbook definition of coastal cowgirl if we really wanted it to be. 

Does country music suck? Debatable. Is it fun to dream about swapping out Deltopia for an all-out bull-riding Rodeo? Yes. But no matter how much I engage in the country culture of my hometown, I refuse to touch Morgan Wallen, that is a line I will not cross.

Lucy is a second year political science major who writes about everything she loves (and hates) about UCSB and life in general. When not writing, Lucy can be found reading a book, listening to music, or taking a nice long walk.