There was a time when the thought of getting on an airplane was exciting for me. After all, the closest I’d been to flying as a kid was when my neighbor jumped the railroad tracks in downtown Montezuma, Georgia, in his parents’ Ford LTD while blaring Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” from the 8-track deck. In his defense, they only had the one 8-track tape that came with the car purchase, and he’d just been dumped.
“Dude, I know Gloria’s gonna be OK, but I’m not sure I will survive. Can you take me home now?”
But I’ve been on enough airplanes now in my adult life that the thought of air travel makes me instantly curl up in the fetal position. I may be excited about the destination, but almost everything about air travel is pure misery to me — the crowds, the cramped spaces, security, people who put tiny bags in overhead bins, etc.
Fortunately, once the jet takes flight, folks usually keep fairly quiet. There’s just a little hum from the engines and the occasional light turbulence that makes someone scream “Oh my God, we’re gonna die! I gotta get on Facebook and update my status: Unspoken — and fairly urgent — prayer request, please!”
Well, flights were mostly quiet until now. Southwest Airlines is threatening potential passengers with in-air concerts from up-and-coming musicians. What’s worse is that it’s part of a deal with Warner Music Nashville. That means that the music is likely to be that bland pop-ish country mess that plagues the genre today.
If I’m trapped in a flying aluminum can and forced to listen to the next Luke Bryan or Jake Owen while squished between two people who barely fit into their own seats, I’ll be the guy trying to light his shoe on fire. I won’t be a shoe-bomber, but perhaps the pain of a burning foot will allow me to focus on something besides the concert.
Not that I hate real country music, mind you. I’ve seen Merle Haggard perform in a honky tonk, and I’d pay extra to hear him perform on a plane, but I think the TSA has some sort of regulation about bringing dead folks into the cabin if they are too large to fit in an overhead bin. We’d have to check Merle, but I think your first checked late country star is free with Southwest.
There are the rare country artists today worth listening to — like Chris Stapleton and, well, um, I can’t actually think of any others, but I’m sure one will come to mind.
I guess it could be worse. It could be some head-banging, screaming speed metal band or the repetitive banal rapping of Kanye West (sorry, you ain’t no Kool Moe Dee from my rap-listening years) or the lyrical musings of Rhianna, who can rhyme words like “work” with “work.” Work, work, work, work, work, work! … Dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt! She makes Kool and the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” sound like Shakespeare.
All I want from an airline is for it to get me from point A to point B as soon and as economically as possible and perhaps toss a couple of annoying passengers out of the plane at 35,000 feet — something that would encourage me to switch from my preferred aisle seat to a window seat. That’d be way more interesting to watch than “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” which an airline once forced upon me on a 10-hour flight in a blatant act of international terrorism.
Let’s hope this concert-in-the-sky stuff doesn’t catch on. If it does, not only will I have to keep wearing headphones to discourage folks from annoying me, but I might even have to make them produce actual sounds.
“The Best of Chris Johnson, Volume II” is now available at KudzuKid.com.