However, it still appeals to tons of people throughout the country. Which is why I even know it still exists, when I’m flipping through the radio dial and come across an all-county, all-the-time station. Or on the rare occasions I’ve traveled to southern parts of the country where nothing else plays on the radio at all. In spite of my disinterest, country music still has plenty of fans throughout the United States. As a matter of fact, for a lot of those fans, country music is as cool as it gets.
It wasn’t always that way, though. Back in the 1970’s, the country music scene and the entire county lifestyle became popularized by songs like “Convoy” by C.W. McCall, and films like “Smokey and the Bandit”, which featured contemporary box office superstar Burt Reynolds. The growing trend was further cemented in the 1980′s by another movie, “Urban Cowboy”, starring John Travolta. In the midst of all the sudden popularity, country-western singer Barbara Mandrell recorded a song about staying true to one’s self: “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”.
I attended Judson College (now Judson University), in the 1980’s. It’s a Christian liberal arts school, which involved regular attendance at church-type services held on campus throughout the week. That was fine with me, as I had been a Christian for most of my life. Some people didn’t care for it, of course, not having come to the school because of their personal faith. Over time, however, most of those students also came to appreciate the services.
But I remember one of those services, when announcements were being made about upcoming Christian music concerts. In the 1980’s, entertainment involved a lot of glamour and special effects, even in the Christian market. Performers often wore bright, flashy outfits and everyone seemed to focus too much attention on presenting an image and too little on the core content.
At the time, Michael W. Smith had become the biggest name in Christian music. When his name was mentioned among the concerts to watch, the entire student population went wild, clapping and cheering for a long time … over the mention of a name.
It struck me then that some people in that meeting room had grown too accustomed to following fads. Cheering for whoever is popular at the time. I had to wonder, Where will all of these people be when they graduate and leave this college environment, where it’s cool to cheer for a Christian musician? Where it’s cool to have faith in Christ? What will they do when they join the rest of the world, where there are people who insist that standing up for your faith means that you’re immature or brainwashed? Will they still cling to the relationship they have with Christ, or will they be drawn away to things that are a little cooler?
I’m happy to say that most everyone I know from my college days remains fully commited to their relationship with Christ and to what the Bible teaches, just the way they did in that safe Christian college environment, all those years ago. Unfortunately, I can’t say that for every single person. And I have to wonder whether I still hold true to God with the same passion and conviction I once had. It’s a question I need to ask myself every day.
Sooner or later, your supporters will drift away. When you’re left standing alone, and people come in to attack your beliefs, will you stand strong in your conviction? Is your belief strong enough to sustain you?
When it’s no longer “cool”, will you still be the person you set out to be?
Find more reviews of Best of Barbara Mandrell at amazon.com!
And click here for YouTube video of “I Was Country (When Country Wasn’t Cool)”!