ThoughtCo. claims that “learning is a never-ending process” on the about page of their website. This really should’ve been placed under the section for advertisers but I, nonetheless, was able to take the idea that ThoughtCo. presented and run with it.
One article titled, “Top 10 Country Songs About Tractors,” by Robert Silva really struck me. I thought I knew everything there was to know about tractor/human relations but I couldn’t have been more ignorant on the subject. Silva names Rodney Atkins’ “A Man on a Tractor” as the second greatest country song about a tractor of all time. Seeing as I have no prior knowledge of the subject, I think I’ll go ahead and take on this opinion myself. As controversial as it may be, I can’t deny songwriters’ Kent Agee and Michael Lunn’s brilliant, awe-inspiring lyrical beauty. “A Man on a Tractor” not only explores general ideas of reality and dreams, it also subverts traditional notions of marriage and sexual relationships in modern America through the depiction of the narrator’s envious nature and the relationship he has with his family.
The line between the Dream and the Reality is drawn clearly in “A Man on a Tractor,” and brings with it a consistent tone of irritation with the realistic frustrations that all American families face. Not unlike many great poets before them, both Agee and Lunn start their song with a lament: “I woke up the same way this morning / Like a stranger in my own life / Tired and confused… / Nothing left for my kids and my wife.” The songwriters really turn the idea of lamenting on its head. Here it’s clear that the narrator is grieving for his real self, his flesh self. He wishes to live in a Dream. Following this expression of grief, the sympathetic narrator makes an invocation and asks, “‘God, won’t you show me what’s real?’” The narrator then describes an image of a man on a tractor and a dog that he sees outside the window. He sees a man on a tractor with a dog in the field. He becomes incredibly jealous of the man, and why shouldn’t he? It’s not like he’s got anyone to support him.
The songwriters for “A Man on a Tractor” must have had tactics in mind to subvert our long-established notions on sexual relations, marriage and parenting. One part of the song that makes this abundantly clear can be found just before the second chorus: “The tractor hummed on like a part of a song / That you sing to your children at night” The first line from this excerpt is clearly a sexual innuendo. The harmonious moans that bellow from the tractor are part of the audible side of the narrator’s sensual sensations with the vehicle. The second line, most obviously, points to how it doesn’t take just one mom and one dad to raise a child. Sometimes it’s just one mom, or one dad or even one green tractor. Perhaps this narrator wishes to one day raise a dog with a green tractor at his side to replace the family he has now. I wouldn’t blame him. One might consider it crass to place such an innuendo in a song and then mention children in the following lyric. Maybe Agee and Lunn were going for a Freudian thing but, to be fair, that’s just what I say when I consume any media that makes me feel uncomfortable.
Country is one of, if not the most progressive genres of contemporary music. While hip-hoppers and rock ‘n rollers like to take all the limelight for “giving people a voice” or “raising awareness on the detriment of a neoliberal market rationale,” it’s really people like Rodney Adkins that hold a true sense of bravery and courage, as well as valor. No one before Adkins was singing about having an affair/secret family with a tractor.
ThoughtCo. really hit the nail on the head with this article. I’ve never felt more informed in a very long time. I do hope that Adkins finds his love one day. Then again, I probably wouldn’t marry anything that I pay insurance on.