Discussion: Different Approaches

Typically, I listen to the songs on my iPod via the various playlists I’ve created. However, the other day, for some reason, I listened to my iPod on shuffle. These were the first two songs my iPod played: Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” and Todd Snider’s “Conservative, Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight White American Males.” No joke. Apparently, my iPod has a sense of humor.

The “joke” got me thinking, however, about country songs that tackle similar subject matter from opposite points of view or take divergent approaches to the same theme. It’s fairly easy these days to find songs with a similar take on a subject matter, but finding differing takes is a little more difficult. Browsing through my iPod, I came up with a few additional pairs: Carrie Underwood’s “All American Girl” celebrates the success of the stereotypical all-American girl, while Terry Allen’s “The Great Joe Bob” celebrates the downfall of the stereotypical all-American boy.

Sugarland’s “Stay” takes the point of view of the “other woman” cheating with a taken man. She wants him to leave his significant other and stay with her. Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”, on the other hand, takes the point of view of the significant other, begging the “other woman” not to take her man.

Trisha Yearwood’s “Walkaway Joe” and Mark Wills’ “Jacob’s Ladder” take divergent approaches to the same theme. Both start out with a similar premise – a young girl leaving home with her young love against her parent’s wishes. However, things turn out vastly different.  In  “Walkaway Joe,” the title says it all.  In “Jacob’s Ladder”, however, things work out much better. The young couple find themselves married with a baby, and accepting grandparents.

What songs can you think of that take different approaches to the same subject matter?


  1. I have to say, I really love your ideas for discussion threads! They always really force me to think. Now, I’m gonna go think about this question.

  2. The two “opposites” that spring to mind right at this point:

    Brad Paisley–“Alcohol”

    Jerry Lee Lewis–“What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out Of Me)”

    Mr. Paisley’s celebrates getting drunk, whilst the Killer’s is about the damage it does to your life.

  3. Not necessarily opposing points of view, but Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” and Trisha Yearwood’s “Dreaming Fields (both penned by Matraca Berg & Gary Harrison) follow a woman as she moves through life. The family farm is the site of her favorite childhood memories and her loss of “innocence.” In the end, she mourns the passing of time and a certain way of life that she could only discover there.

  4. Jennifer Nettles has said that “Stay” was written as an answer to Reba McEntire’s “Whoever’s in New England,” so those are quite literally opposite views on the same (imaginary) relationship.

  5. OK, I am gonna try this with three different songs all about cheating.

    Reba – Only In My Mind … in this self-penned Reba number, her man is asking her ‘have you ever cheated on me?’ and her response is that she hadn’t physically, but ‘only in her mind’.

    Gretchen Wilson – When I Think About Cheating … the narrator is so much in love with her lover that the thought of actually cheating on him doesn’t even occur to her.

    Randy Travis – Reasons I Cheat … Randy simply spells out all the reasons for his infidelities, a long working day, a demanding wife with no understanding – who also chooses to ‘lay sound asleep’ by his side, his age is showing, and of course the ‘dimly lit tavern and a willing young woman’. So, he needs ‘someone to help soothe’ his pride. These are just ‘some of the reasons I cheat’, Randy sings.

  6. While Rodney Atkins’ son in “Watching You” wants to be strong and tall like his dad, and wear the same clothes, George Canyon wants to be just like his kid in “Just Like You”. He wants to sing silly songs and build sand castles all day long.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.