Nothin’ Out Here

There ain’t nothin’ out here but dogs in the yard
And a couple John Deeres, some fallin’ down barns.
Yeah, it’s pretty damn clear like lightning in a jar
If you passed it on the interstate, I bet you’d say
There ain’t nothin’ out here, there ain’t a skyline
If you seen it from a Learjet, I bet you’d ask why
Anybody down there would wanna live and die
Somewhere you gotta be lost to go, but they don’t know

We alright with that out-of-touch label.
Turn that dirt into what’s on the table.
And we don’t need no shiny good time.
We’re fine with a county line kinda cold beer
Keep those dust-covered, rusted trucks running.
You kissed on the bus, now you’re raising up youngins
All you’re gonna find windin’ through the country
Is some middle-of-nowhere folks
Makin’ somethin’ outta nothin’ out here

Ben Hayslip / Jimmy Yeary / Michael Hardy

I was out and about yesterday in the car by myself. I was listening to my own playlist, cleverly called Favorite Country Music. My destination made even me laugh at myself. I was heading to what I thought was a fancy King Soopers grocery store with furniture and housewares and all sorts of cool food items. Such stores exist in the Phoenix metro area, and I hoped this one would be the same.

The store made me feel like I was in the old Soviet Union. The shelves were more bare than I’d seen in a long time. (I’m looking at you COVID.) There were no shopping carts. The produce looked sad. The shoppers looked sad. Heck, I looked sad.

I was sort of mentally beating myself up, thinking things like what kind of hillbilly goes to a grocery store looking for excitement? Calling myself a hillbilly is one of the most frequent ways I beat up on myself. I rarely wear makeup; I’m a hillbilly. My clothes are old and out of style; I’m a hillbilly. My idea of a fun day is walking through a big grocery store; I’m a hillbilly.

And then the song Nothing Out Here, sung by a man called HARDY (who frankly really does look like a hillbilly) and featuring Thomas Rhett (who doesn’t look like a hillbilly) came on my playlist. I hadn’t heard it in a while, and immediately remembered why I spent my hard-earned buck twenty-nine to buy that song. The song talks about how the center of the United States is considered desolate and uninteresting, and is largely ignored by mainstream media from both coasts. Little consideration is given to the fact that much of the food we eat each day comes from those huge fields full of corn and wheat and sorghum and soybeans and many other things. The farm report many midwesterners listen to every day at noon might be boring to most, but the information given is critical to those who farm and ranch. Midwesterners are considered to be out of touch with what’s important and meaningful. How insulting.

Remember back in March 2019, when parts of central Nebraska were devastated by tremendous floods? Remember how it took days and days and public outcry before the media even paid attention to the plight of the people affected by the devastating flood. I wrote about it here. What I remember about those many days is that the Nebraskans didn’t let it stop them. They buckled down and helped each other and cooked and baked and babysat and cleaned and kept spirits up. That’s what midwesterners do.

I’ve lived in Colorado far longer than I lived in Nebraska. Nevertheless, I feel like the formative years that I spent in that state formed who I am as a person. Maybe I am a hillbilly, but I’m honest and considerate and love my family and friends with all my heart.

One thought on “Nothin’ Out Here

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