Connecting with hometown through country music

When I was little, um… my dad was in the army, and so we moved around a whole bunch, but he— both my parents are from Arkansas, this kind of, like, rural place that’s pretty country, you know? Um, but since he was in the army, we moved around so much, I didn’t really have any connections with, like, where they were from, and so things took me by surprise a lot, like, um… Okay, so… uh… one of them was, um, I remember going to visit, like, my grandma once and then my cousins were all singing this song… Um, it was, like, the early nineties, I think, maybe ninety-three or ninety-four, but um… everyone was singing this song, “Achy Breaky Heart,” which was, like, Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus’s dad, and it… Anyway, it was just, like, going to Arkansas, and then it was just inundating the… the culture, like, the song, you heard it everywhere, wherever you were. It was on the radio, people were singing it, they loved this song, and I was just like, “What is going on here?” So that was my sort of interaction with southern… country-ness, um, country music.

To watch/listen to the song, see:



This is an example of an authored piece of music moving into the area of folklore and cultural identity. Even though the song “Achy Breaky Heart” was a popular commercial song, it impacted my informant only after she had visited her hometown and seen how the people there had adopted it so deeply into their culture and identity as “southern” and “country.” Because she had not lived there, she perceived the “inundation” of the song differently than her family and others more familiar to the in-group of her hometown.