I've always had a bad habit - OK, several bad habits - but in this case I'm specifically talking about one that's related to the way I enjoy music. I've always found that I'm first attracted to the melody and pace of a song long before I ever really pay much attention to its lyrics. But even worse, I might listen countless times before it begins to dawn on me that the song just might have a message, in some cases an important one.
That can be especially true of country music. I really think most music fans of other genres believe that country music is not relevant to what's going on in their lives, and in fact they tend to assume it's all about honky-tonks and broken hearts. Of course, those subjects are well-covered - boy, are they - but you could make a pretty good argument that country music has a long tradition of social commentary.
Historically, it's the music of the often poor rural population of America, influenced by generations of immigrants. Whether you call it early country music or folk music it had a lot to say, and you can think of a lot of examples where the music spoke to the people. Those examples range from the rabble-rousing political songs of the 19th century to the Depression-era anthems of Woody Guthrie, and continue with today's country artists.
One of my favorite examples first came to my attention about 40 years ago, and as usual I was attracted at first to the pace of the song, along with the smooth baritone of the singer. But after a few times just enjoying it, I woke up and really heard the song's message of harsh childhood truths. It was Henson Cargill's "Skip A Rope."