Except for Eastern Kentucky’s own Chris Stapleton, I don’t actively listen to current country music. Sometimes, however, the music is forced upon me. This usually occurs when I’m in someone else’s car or inside a store.
That’s exactly what happened recently while I strolled the aisles of the Super Dollar. As I compared the prices of tea, I caught snippets of a song that recalled the halcyon days gone by when everything wasn’t automatic.
I would later learn that the song, by Miranda Lambert, is aptly-titled “Automatic.” Although it was released in 2014 and won oodles of awards, I heard it for the first time in August 2019.
According to Lambert, the song is “about slowing down, taking a breath and remembering what it’s like to live life a little more simply.”
Although I agree with those sentiments, Lambert and I don’t have the same definition of living a simple life.
For example, in the song, she reminisces about using an atlas to find the way to Dallas. I’ve never been to Dallas, but I once consulted an atlas for a trip up north and, let me tell you, that was a disaster. Thankfully, a 10 year old used her wits to get me on the right track or I would still be driving around the backroads of Delaware.
Also in the song, in a nod to Polaroid cameras, Lambert muses about taking the kind of pictures you had to shake. My sister had a Polaroid and we enjoyed posing for photos and then watching our images come to life.
But you know what I didn’t enjoy? Watching those images come to life only to realize that we wasted film on a photo that made us look like rejects from a horror movie.
For some reason, Lambert also suggests we roll down windows, the kind with cranks.
I’m not sure if this means we should keep crank-less windows shut. Heck, I’m not even sure what kind of windows she’s talking about, but if it’s car windows, it makes me wonder why anyone would miss rolling a car window up and down by hand. Maybe the cars we drove required a healthy dose of WD-40, but if my memory serves, it was no easy feat to crank those windows. Indeed, I was usually so tired after rolling them up and/or down that I had to take a nap.
Anyway, I’m sure the song has millions if not billions of fans, and I can appreciate feeling nostalgic for times gone by. But it’s not the tools, be they atlases, cameras, or windows, that made the times so worthwhile.
It’s the people we did them with.
This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.