A DECADE OF LESSONS: What I Learned from Country Stars in Ten Years

A Timeline of the Teachings from 2009 to 2019

It has been a decade, y’all.

For the past ten years, I’ve been making a living out of loving country music. Which means I’ve spent those ten years (and then some) learning life lessons from the people who make it. And what a schooling it has been. I’d always thought country artists were full of a special kind of wisdom, but now I know it for a fact.

Whether they meant to or not, country stars taught me things I took to heart.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what I’ve picked up backstage, on tour buses, in green rooms, or on the phone. It’s more like an abridged version of the highlights, from Tim McGraw in 2009 and from Luke Bryan in 2019, and just about everyone else in between.

2009

Tim McGraw: Don’t forget to remember the memories.

2010

Rusty Russell
Blake Shelton: Always say I love you.

Rick Diamond
Kenny Chesney: Make music that touches all generations.

2011

Zac Brown: Remember where you came from.

Kevin Winter
Sara Evans: Bluegrass can make the old stuff sound new again.

2012

Rick Diamond
Dierks Bentley: Keep a real journal, and keep it up.

Kevin Winter
Tim McGraw: Give yourself permission to keep yourself to yourself.

2013

Kevin Winter
Tim McGraw: It’s okay to lose the twang.

Jason Kempin
Jason Aldean: Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

2014

John Shearer
Trisha Yearwood: Welcome your next chapter.

Ethan Miller
Eric Church: It’s okay to love yourself.

2015

Sheryl Crow: Where you’re from matters as much as where you’re headed.

Maddie & Tae: Everybody has to start somewhere.

2016

Kevin Winter
Randy Houser: You can dream small, too.

Cole Swindell: A healthy obsession with the past is perfectly fine.

2017

Matthew J. Lee
Toby Keith: Break up with Nashville every once in a while.

Timothy Hiatt
Jake Owen: Revisit the tip jar that built you.

2018

Rick Diamond
Luke Combs: Recycle rejection into fuel.

Robyn Beck
Kacey Musgraves: Ask your own set of questions.

Garth Brooks: Time changes, but you don’t.

2019

Luke Bryan: Go for it now so you don’t have regrets later.

Rick Diamond
Lindsay Ell: Do your part to move all the needles.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro