In his 2010 No. 1 hit single “Hillbilly Bone,” Blake Shelton tells the story of a New Yorker who comes down South, goes honky-tonkin' for the first time and takes to it like a “cow to cud.” The moral of the song is that there’s a little bit of country in everyone.
I might be a good test case for that theory. I was born on the Gulf Coast, am allergic to horses, prefer indie rock and dance music, and really do not have a head for a cowboy hat.
But I am an aficionado of good storytelling, so after spending some quality time Friday night listening to Blake Shelton weave some fine musical tales at his rodeo concert, I’ll admit it. I might have been won over to the country side by a voice that can masterfully sing a story.
Shelton charmed and wooed the near-record Reliant Stadium crowd of 75,238, making simple connections between the next tale and our everyday lives.
Between songs, Shelton charmed and wooed the near-record Reliant Stadium crowd of 75,238 (narrowly beating out attendance at the Pitbull concert the night before as the second largest crowd ever), making simple connections between the next tale and our everyday lives. Early in the performance, Shelton commented on the Houston traffic we braved to be there with him that night and honored our efforts with the song “Some Beach.”
The "do-I-really-know-you-my-love?" song “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking?” was prefaced by Shelton’s flirtation with all the “damn good looking” Texas women in the crowd, who immediately let out a few "Awws" when he spoke about his own Texas woman, his wife Miranda Lambert, who makes him very happy but also “a little bit afraid.”
Needs a Strait ticket
Shelton was at his most sincere lying a little about not being able to get a ticket to the sold out George Strait performance on Sunday night. While I’m pretty sure the Rodeo Powers That Be could find Blake Shelton a ticket if he asked, there was no doubt of his deep enthusiasm and respect for Strait’s music as he asked everyone to sing along with him on “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” a request the whole crowd was all too happy to loudly oblige.
There was no doubt of his deep enthusiasm and respect for Strait’s music as he asked everyone to sing along with him on “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” a request the whole crowd was all too happy to loudly oblige.
Yet, it was early in the night when the lights dimmed and then reddened for his tall trickster tale “Old Red” that I fully understood Shelton’s power as a singer of stories. Yes, those twinkling eyes and sweat drenched curls no doubt sent many hearts aflutter Friday night. And the man definitely possess a great voice, but, for me as a listener, Shelton’s power as a performer comes from the way he uses that voice and the emotions it conveys to turn the words and music into story.
By the time Shelton ended the night calling everyone onto their feet to dance along to his cover of the old Kenny Loggins staple “Footloose,” and for the first time I actually heard and understood every word to this song I'd heard countless times, I was ready to affirm this test case was a success.
Yes, I’ve found my hillbilly bone. I can’t say that it’s a large one, like a femur or a humerus. But one of those little ear bones? Yeah, I think it might be there.
"All About Tonight"
"Drink on It"
"Who Are You When I'm Not Looking"
"Sure Be Cool If You Did"
"All My Ex's Live in Texas"
"God Gave Me You"