The country music that attracts me is the music that contains exactly the same push for cultural change and the same aspirational goals that Wilkinson doesn’t hear in the genre. Explicitly religious country songs often request that the listener give up the desire to “get adjusted to this world” and focus on the moment when “Hallelujah, bye and bye, I’ll fly away” to heaven.

The more secular side of country music can take that same call to “plant my feet on higher ground” and turn it into a call to shake the small town dust off your shoes and head for the possibility of the big city. That’s why I listen to it.

I listen because in songs like “Suds in the Bucket” by Sara Evans and “Bye Bye” by Jo Dee Messina, romance (either a new one, or a broken one) is a spur for moving on. Evans contrasts the static “biddies in the beauty shop [who] gossip goin’ nonstop/Sippin’ on pink lemonade” with the young woman who heads out of town with a handsome man and a convertible, leaving “the suds in the bucket and the clothes hangin’ out on the line” as she heads for a more enticing future.