Title page for ETD etd-04252011-224457

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Carville, Claire S.
Author's Email Address cscarville@gmail.com
URN etd-04252011-224457
Title From "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" to "If You're Reading This": Patriotic Themes in Country Music Between 2000-2010
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Lundy, Lisa Committee Chair
Mann, Robert Committee Member
Popp, Richard Committee Member
  • social identity theory
  • music and society
  • patriotism
  • song lyrics
  • popular music
  • country music
Date of Defense 2011-04-14
Availability unrestricted
Music plays an important role in the lives of individuals and often reflects important societal values. Music can also serve as an important reflection of the public’s current opinion at a given point in time. Patriotism is a feeling of love for one’s homeland and has often been the subject matter of music lyrics throughout history.

In particular, country music has been perceived as being an especially patriotic genre of music. This thesis utilized quantitative and qualitative content analyses as the methods to examine the patriotic content of country music lyrics over the past decade. The sample was adapted from Billboard’s year-end “Hot Country Songs” chart.

Nearly 40% of the sample conveyed patriotic themes. The majority of these songs expressed blind patriotism, or unquestioning support of America. The songs that exuded patriotism were categorized into one of four themes: songs about terrorist attacks, wartime and the armed forces; songs about the American dream; songs about current events in America; and songs celebrating American life.

Additionally, the songs about terrorism, wartime, and the armed forces experienced a shift in tone throughout the decade. The beginning of the time period contained songs that were overtly pro-America and pro-war, the middle of the decade included songs that were much softer and focused on the soldiers’ lives rather than the actual war, and lastly, the end of the decade contained songs that told stories of wartime casualties that many families were experiencing first handedly.

This study illustrates that country music’s narrative and story-like lyrics have captured the patriotic feelings experienced by many people throughout the past decade. These songs collectively provided a snapshot of the opinions and values of society throughout the past decade.

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