This week’s Free Ride* muses on the songs of the most successful American Idol alumna and country music phenom, Carrie Underwood, who turns 29 today. Her skyrocketing and unparalleled success has led to myriad awards and accolades, and she has a substantial crossover appeal beyond the country audience. Her stylistic range was apparent from the beginning of her Idol run, which started with an audition cover of the disco hit Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton. To stay with the freedom theme, she followed this up with an early round cover of Independence Day by Martina McBride. Since her Idol triumph, she has covered everyone from Elvis (a posthumous duet with the King on I’ll Be Home for Christmas) to Motley Crüe, with a finale appearance to close out the 8th Idol season with the metal band’s freedom-themed song, Home Sweet Home.
For an example of one of her own songs that fits the Free Ride theme, take a listen to Cowboy Casanova. Underwood co-wrote this song for her 3rd studio album, 2009’s Play On, along with Brett James and hip-hop producer Mike Elizondo. In the vein of her earlier hit, Before He Cheats, she gives a stern warning about men who can’t be trusted. This time, she’s not warning the man, she’s warning her fellow women, cautioning them to steer clear of these devils in disguise, these snakes with blue eyes.
The light-hearted and upbeat pop song speaks a hard truth, of the propensity for some people to lose their freedom in destructive relationships, to become addicted to unhealthy partners. My sense, and my hope, is that Carrie Underwood is not speaking from any life experience, and that she will enjoy a fulfilling life of freedom and fidelity and marital bliss with her Nashville Predator hockey-playing husband, Mike Fisher. From what I understand, the two of them are people of deep faith, and the only real predators either will have to deal with will either be on the ice or in fictional songs. May they not have to experience firsthand any of the truths of these songs.