I’ve always been a huge fan of country music. I really appreciate a song that tells a story, especially one I can tap my foot to while picturing myself driving across the mid-west of America in an open top Mustang, Thelma and Louise style but obviously without the cliff at the end.
My country music taste is eclectic to say the least; Dolly Parton is a queen (9-5 is one of my favourite songs of all time and I make a point of pouring myself a cup of ambition each morning), The Eagles’ harmonies are to die for (Hotel California, Lyin’ Eyes, and their whole most recent album The Road Out of Eden– phwoar), Credence Clearwater Revival’s driving rhythms just get to your soul and you can’t help but sing along to at the top of your voice. Heck, even earlier Taylor Swift has some archetypal country classics. Her album Fearless got my through many a tween drama.
But there is one woman who stands out in my mind: the wonderful, seemingly ageless, Shania Twain.
Shania has a list of pop hits longer than my right arm and she oozes late nineties joy with her easy listening, wonderful songs that are just down right fun as well as occasionally blasting messages about female empowerment.
So imagine my recent moment of horror when I stumbled across an article from last year stating that Shania Twain had said in an interview that she would vote for Donald Trump. She has since come out and said she had been misquoted but the article got me thinking.
That her words could be interpreted as even remotely offering support for arguably the worst man on earth was incredibly disappointing. This thought was beyond devastating for so many reasons.
How could someone who was responsible for some the songs that shaped me the most as a young adult say such a thing, a woman who sang some of the best tunes about being in love, being a strong woman and wearing men’s shirts and short skirts just because we bloody want to, even consider voting for the misogynist, small handed current POTUS?
It got me thinking about everything Shania’s music has done for me and how even the people we look up to and admire sometimes don’t and can’t live up to what you come to expect from them.
Naturally, for the purpose of fully scientific research, I had to dig out my much loved Shania albums and listen to some of her music and boy, have I enjoyed it!
I’m going to take a little bit of a trip down my music memory lane and decide what lessons I’ve learnt from Shania.
In the immortal words of Ms Twain herself, let’s go girls.
1. Rock this Country
This one is probably Shania’s most typical ‘country tunes’. I am a woman of a particular age meaning this song invokes memories of an episode of Lizzie McGuire where she and the fam visit a rodeo town for a weekend of fun (why did I never get to go there on holiday?!) and of course, a great deal of larks ensue. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then I suddenly feel proper old. Wah. This song also helps you learn a great deal about American states; not only is it a rockin’ pop/country beat, it is also educational so I encourage you all to go and listen to it. Like now.
2. Honey, I’m Home
Shania’s the breadwinner, the go-out and make the money kind of woman and she comes back and the fella hasn’t even put the kettle on, let alone given the dog a bone. At the surface it is funny and sassy but also could be seen as challenging gender stereotypes; it was the early noughties and I find it thoroughly refreshing that Shania is the one calling the shots, bringing home the bacon while her fella waits at home. And of course, she demands an alcoholic drink on arrival. My kind of woman.
3. You’re Still the One
One of the most famous love songs. Ever. When I was fourteen, I was convinced I would dance to this at my wedding in one of those silky drapes while bathed in blue lighting, just like Shania in the video. To confirm, my actual plans are, of course, far more dramatic and intricate but it’s a lovely tune, if not a little clichéd given how much it gets played. That being said, it’s still a cracker.
If this doesn’t make you want to go and express your love for someone through the medium of interpretive dance I don’t know what will.
4. Don’t Be Stupid
It has killer violin segments, teaches line dancing and tells young women to not stand for emotional manipulation from anyone. Why oh why did I not have this blasting out when in some serious dodgy relationships?!
Again, this is a great example of the way in which Twain takes a serious topic, makes a cracking pop song who’s lyrics, while being fun, also pass on a message. OK, so maybe Shania doesn’t go far enough with this one; a guy who hangs over her shoulder reading her mail or who gets suspicious when she paints her nails definitely isn’t a keeper. That being said, she hasn’t shied away from a difficult topic and in a two minute song perhaps she could only do so much?
5. When You Kiss Me
One of ST’s less well known tracks that is just a beauty. Aged 16 this was my jam, feeling all emosh and thinking about the totally emosh feelings that all teenagers are consumed by at some point. Not quite sure why this one resonated with me so much, maybe the lovely little Spanish guitar section, Shania’s soaring sweet vocals and the words about the world going away when someone kisses ya. Of course, in reality, of the kisses to come, most had me checking my watch and wondering what I would be having for tea but I can see why those lyrics wouldn’t have had the same ring.
The song makes more sense now as an adult and I can actual appreciate what an adult relationship is like as opposed to feeling a bit soppy as a tween and for that reason, it will always be a fave.
6. That Don’t Impress Me Much
I’m pretty sure it is this music video that instilled within me my love of leopard print, the most practical wear for being stranded in the middle of desert, of course. This song epitomises Shania at her most fun with some of the most quotable lines of any tune. I can’t believe you kiss your car goodnight, What do you think you’re Elvis or something, etc.
This song set up the precedent to not just settle for the first Tom, Dick or Harry who rocks up, even if he is a rocket scientist or indeed, Brad Pitt. They could be the smartest, handsomest fella going but if he doesn’t treat you right, he isn’t worth a second of your time.
Admittedly, we all fall into the trap of this one now and again but it should still encourage us to ask, what would Shania do?
She would definitely find a desert, dress head to toe in a hooded leopard print jumpsuit and leave those losers to eat her dust. Preach.
7. Man! I Feel Like A Woman!
If this song isn’t played at every pre-drinks session/ 3am dance off in Popworld, are you even out out?! It’s probably Shania’s most famous track and with good reason. It makes you feel happy, joyous and full of life. It epitomises the nineties/noughties era (it came out in 2000 and now I feel really old). It celebrates what being a woman is all about; so what if it is a bit stereotypical- it’s a darn classic and one of my absolute favourites. You can’t help but dance and sing along and for that reason, it has firmly secured its place as a feminist anthem. It is just full of JOY.
So how did this trip down music memory lane make me feel? Well thoroughly nostalgic, first and foremost.
Slightly disappointed that lyrics I used to blast out at the top of my lungs maybe aren’t doing as much as they could when broaching topics surrounding relationships with men.
I guess this whole experience has highlighted that sometimes the people we used to look up to need to be re-evaluated and reassessed through an adult lens and that’s OK. We grow up and we grow on from people, not only in our music tastes but also in life and that, also, is OK.
We set higher standards for ourselves as adults than we did when we were younger and I suppose that’s part of growing up or as my mother would say, all part of life’s rich tapestry.
So Shania may well have been misinterpreted and as a Canadian, she couldn’t really have voted for Donald Trump even if she wanted to.
There’s scope to look at why so many women voted for him back in 2016 but I think that’s for another time and place. At least she has since come out and stated that she had been misunderstood so in this instance, I shall give her the benefit of the doubt.
I’m not sure I could live in a world where a woman who is responsible for some of the greatest country/pop cross overs the 21st century has seen could vote for such a man. I am reassured, for now.
I really enjoyed this re-examination of Shania’s finest hits and if you want to feel care free and just dance around the room in your pants blasting her at the highest volume possible then DO IT. You won’t regret it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find that glittery pink cowboy hat and see if I can still get in that leather jacket…