6. Don't Mince Words
Wiseman: As other genres have influenced country, the lyrics have gotten a little more poetic, but the hallmark of country is that it talks about life in no uncertain terms. I'll never forget when I was a kid, I was a drummer playing in rock bands, and I went over to a guy's house one time and he was playing Johnny Cash's "Sunday Morning Coming Down," the Kris Kristofferson song. I'll never forget when he hit that line in the first verse: "The beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad, so I had one more for dessert/I stumbled to my closet, went through my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt." I was like, "Oh my God, I'm wearing my cleanest dirty shirt right now." Country is kind of literal, but I like that, because it separates the bullshit from the real thing.