A little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll

Last night on TV, there were new episode of Heroes, Studio 60, and Prison Break, but what did I watch? The 40th Annual Country Music Awards on ABC. That”s right, I watch the CMAs, and I like it.

Brad Paisley took home Album of the Year, and he and Dolly Parton won “Musical Event of the Year” for their duet, “When I Get Where I’m Going.” But American Idol sweetheart Carrie Underwood was the real winner of the night, taking home the Horizon Award and Best Female Vocalist of the Year. Fortunately, Carrie didn”t perform her sappy hit “Jesus Take the Wheel”, but “Before He Cheats”:

Carrie Underwood

Newly-separated former Dancing with the Stars contestant Sara Evans performed “Real Fine Place to Start”, and Miranda Lambert delivered a rousing rendition of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” that ended with her smashing a guitar (her own, not the crazy ex-girlfriend’s):

Sara Evans Miranda Lambert

Kimberly Williams of Father of the Bride and Relativity fame accompanied husband Brad Paisley (who knew?) wearing a very questionable outfit (and that’s no easy feat at the country music awards!):

Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams

But the actress, whose pregnancy is apparently having a negative effect on her vision, got one of the night’s biggest laughs when she was presenting the Vocal Group category and quipped, “I married one of them and now I’m knocked up and blind.”

Overall, last night’s CMAs weren’t the most exciting awards show ever, but they were an enjoyable way to spend a few hours – especially if you had a TiVo and could fast-forward through a lot of the performances.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like country music. And I’m not ashamed.

My mom was a national horse judge when I was young (one of the first women ever to be a national horse judge, but that’s a story for another day), so my sister and I grew up singing along to Dolly Parton, Crystal Gayle and Don Williams records (also Abba, Whitney Houston, and Neil Diamond, but I don’t want to make your head explode with the contradictions).

Yes, we were country, when country wasn’t cool. And although I like a lot of other types of music now, I still listen to country music, along with 40 million other Americans ” at least some of whom are lesbians. Yes, it’s still an industry populated by white people (except for Cowboy Troy); yes, it’s still dominated by men; and no, I can’t get behind the hairstyles (although they’re improving).

But I got over my first lesbian crush by listening to Trisha Yearwood (who a few years later, sang “Everybody Knows” on Ellen before the famous coming-out episode). And when I was coming out in college, I listened to a lot of Garth Brooks, who has a lesbian sister, and pissed off a lot of people when he added the lyrics “when people are free to love / anyone they choose” into his song “We Shall Be Free”. When I’m on a road trip, I want Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks. When I want to be cheered up, I”ll throw in Jo Dee Messina‘s “I’m Alright” or “Something More”. And if you’ve never sang along to Reba’s “Fancy” and Wynonna’s “Girls with Guitars” – or Wynonna’s “Is it Over Yet”, if you’re heartbroken – you’re missing out. And Mary Chapin Carpenter? A songwriting genius. Period. (Come On Come On is still one of the best albums ever made).

And there’s nothing like a night at a two-stepping bar in Atlanta filled with gay men in cowboy hats to put a smile on your face. But that’s another story for another day.