Hitting all the right notes: Country music

Written by NORM board member, Jaime M. Fiore

Country music encompasses a multitude of styles, instruments and even cultures. The origins can be traced back to folk music thus explaining the stripped-down reality of the lines that have remained consistent with this style throughout several decades.

The lyrics dance with the stories about the “good old days”, a first kiss, falling in love, the heartache of loss, religious ballads, and patriotism. Country music’s amazing versatility allows you to hear it belting from a dive bar on Saturday night or ringing out from a church on Sunday morning.  Woven within the lyrics is a relatable story.  Country music is said to have been adapted from the old world. Lyrics were put to melody to tell the stories of war.

Country music’s choice of instruments has also evolved throughout the years. The addition of electric guitar, electric bass, and drums are a bit removed from the days when fiddles, banjos and acoustic guitars were the preferred instruments. These changes have allowed country music to stay relevant not only lyrically, but musically as well. Songwriter Harlen Howard said, “Country music is three chords and the truth.”  I believe the real heart of country music is nostalgia.  Most listeners and artists alike will tell you that country music has a way of transporting you into the song and evoking a feeling of hope even if the lyrics are dark.

“Rhinestone Cowboy” sung by Glen Campbell became one of the first songs to top country and pop radio charts in 1975. Today we have many “pop country” artists that have crossed over and created a country style all their own, but remain grounded in their country roots. Songs like Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” are sure to evoke a sing-a-long in most crowds.  Artists like Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban are played on country and pop radio.  These artists emerged on the scene in country music but their following extends far beyond country radio.

Country music tells a story. Although sometimes the details of the story are bleak, country music has a way of ending the song with a message of hope. There are many similarities between country music and what we do in the typical rheumatology practice. Our patients are faced with chronic diseases that can break them down not only physically, but emotionally as well.  Every interaction a patient has with our office is a chance to take the reality, or the “story” of their chronic illness and evoke a feeling of hope.

Fun Fact! Country Artist, Willie Nelson holds an annual music festival at his ranch about 30 miles outside of Austin every year. Nelson’s ranch is a forever home to over 70 rescue horses.

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  • As a speaker at the first ad hoc meeting of rheumatology practice managers gathered in a single small room at its infancy a decade ago, I’m amazed to see how NORM has blossomed into a high energy organization of depth and professional meetings with parallel break-out symposia between plenary sessions. NORM has truly come of age. This is where the “business” of rheumatology gets learned. The ”guildmanship” for rheumatology practice management is now strong.- Paul H. Caldron, DO, FACP, FACR, MBA, Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates
  • In a time of demanding changes in the management of medical practices in the US, NORM has been a lifesaver to the community of Rheumatology practices.  NORM has allowed our practice to stay ahead of the many demands of CMS and others payors and has ensured that our practice remains cognizant of new issues that arise in HIPPA compliance, human resources and medical billing to name a few. Sending our Practice Manager to NORM's conferences has been cost-effective and beneficial to our practice because she returns to our office with an abundance of information that otherwise would have taken months to compile. Every Rheumatology practice that wishes to stay on top of emerging issues in practice management should consider sending a member of their staff to NORM's conference.- Michael S. Rosen M.D., Chester County Rheumatology PC
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