There are so many pop and country songs about the interstitial period in relationships

I listen to a lot of country music, and one of my favorite songs of this year was the Brothers Osborne’s Stay A Little Longer, which is about two people who aren’t really together, and who’re maybe even on the verge of splitting permanently, but who keep hooking up.

(Of special note, it’s kind of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it thing, but there’s a gay couple at 1:35, and later in the video they kiss.)

There are a lot of country songs with this theme. Off the top of my head, I can think of Lady Antebellum’s “Lie With Me”, Jake Owen’s “Alone With You” and Chris Young’s “I’m Coming Over.”

It’s an interesting thing. I used to think the non-relationship was a college staple. You’re sleeping with some guy, or some girl, and neither of you really knows what it is, and maybe you’d want it to be a little bit more, but somehow your relationship, despite its emotional intimacy, doesn’t have the room for that discussion, but obviously the non-relationship is a thing that’s continued well into adulthood. This is all reminding me of the saddest article I’ve ever read, which was this VICE article on roommates who started sleeping together. 

How long did it go on for, and when did things go wrong?
The sexual side must have gone on for about seven months. I reckon things went wrong when we started making our own friends from work and stuff. I weirdly started getting quite jealous when she talked about her guy friends, especially when we would both go for drinks after work separately. But I never said anything because again it wasn’t official. So after a while the sex just stopped, and we reverted back to two individuals who shared a kitchen and bathroom and that was about it. Not that long after, she awkwardly hinted that she was going out on a ‘date,’ with someone from work. And that was it, really.

I read that and I was just horrified. I was like, is this what life is like? You have sex with someone for seven months. You live with them. And you still can’t talk about whether you guys were every, in any sense, actually together?

Not sure where I’m going with this. It’s not a thing that I, personally, have much experience with, but it does put some of my dating experiences into a new light. For instance, I used to be put off when I’d go out with someone and they’d be like, “Yeah, let’s hang out again” or “It was good hanging out with you,” and I’d be left thinking, err, what? But we kissed. To me kissing is what separates hanging out from going out. But these are obviously not the definitions that many Americans are playing with.

Ermagerd, my ears are still hurting, so I’ll leave you with one of our nation’s finest anthems

On Twitter the other day I was talking about how much I love the video for “The Boys of Fall,” Kenny Chesney’s high school football anthem. I kind of get emotional whenever the song comes on the radio, but I find the video to be extremely affecting. And fellow country music enthusiast (and children’s lit writer with the same agent as me) Michelle Modesto refused to believe that I was serious!

Yes, admittedly, high school football is silly and frivolous and probably even quite injurious to the health of both its participants and the nation as a whole. Nonetheless, the SONG is about real sentiments that most of America does, to some degree, feel. It’s kind of like how we can read and write all these books about teenagers falling in love, and even though we know that, by and large, this love is doomed, we can still feel ourselves touched by it. Because even if the love is impermanent (and, dare I say, a little silly), the EMOTIONS are very real.

Also, since today is a day for frivolous things, I’m lodging another call for people to join my email list, The Rahuligans. The email volume is very low (I don’t think I’ve sent out one yet). But people say that email lists are the best marketing tool you can use. It’s permission marketing. By signing up to my email list, you sort of align yourself with me and develop a one-to-one relationship with me that will come in really handy later on when I’m trying to sell you stuff!

I’m starting to think that being familiar with the work of Ke$ha is not the cultural touchstone that I thought it was

47e29f9fe96a1771642fb05ac8a8fd00_XLI’m in Berkeley for the summer, and I have to say that it’s a bit like an alternate world out here. You know, everything is mostly the same as in Baltimore: people walk on two legs and wear pants and say ‘Hello’ and eat at vegan bakeries and go to Farmer’s Markets and drive bikes to work (on a sidenote: it’s unbelievable how many Bay Area people think that the standard markers of modern yuppie living–farmer markets, veganism, etc–are unique to their little part of the world).

But there are differences. And one of the weirder ones is that no one knows what’s on the radio. I listen to the radio all the time: if it’s on the radio, I’ve definitely heard it. But many 27 year olds around here do not. That’s for two reasons: a) lots of them don’t own cars; and b) they’re way too cool for the radio.

Which puts me in the weird position, because almost everyone that I meet around here is really, really into music. They all play in bands and go to shows and are just generally up on things. And whenever the talk turns to music, I can generally only contribute information about: a) Nashville-based pop-country music (which no one cares about); or b) whatever I heard on the radio.

So, wometimes I’ll say something like, “Oh yeah, I listened to that Ke$ha song ‘Die Young’ like fifty times while I was driving across country.”

And my conversation partner will respond: “Who?”

“Uhh, Ke$ha? The pop singer?”

And then there’ll just be incomprehension. It’s very weird to me; there’s a real cultural disconnect here. My view of engagement with art is very shaped by my experience with science fiction. You start with the most accessible, most poppy stuff (Ender’s Game, Dune, Starship Troopers, etc) and then, when that stops providing you with pleasure, you go out and you find more and more obscure artists. But you always stay current with the mainstream, because that’s, it’s just…it’s like what you have in common with the rest of the world. When I meet another SF fan, we don’t talk about Ted Chiang…we talk about Neal Stephenson and John Scalzi. Because that’s how shit works.

But in music, at least out here, it feels different. I don’t know. Maybe it is an age thing. It feels obvious, to me, that the radio is primarily geared towards sixteen year olds. Maybe the model is that when you’re sixteen, you listen intensively to the radio, and then you branch out and, as you age and become less and less the target demographic for the music industry, more and more of the bands you like aren’t on the radio anymore.

To me, it seems a bit uncool to not be familiar with what’s on the radio. I mean…that’s the radio. How can you know anything about music if you don’t know what people like? I mean, you don’t need to like what you hear on the radio, but you should at least hear it on occasion.

But since all my friends out here are super cool, I think that my supposition is incorrect. Here, in the East Bay, amongst a certain age group, the radio is irrelevant.

I know, right? It’s like I’m summering on Mars.

(It’s also possible that this is true everywhere, but I just notice it more here because I have more friends here. I’ve certainly encountered people in DC who were too cool for the radio).