Analysis of Miranda Lambert's "Automatic"

I didn't intend for this to be a feature. And it's not like I discovered these two songs close together. But one of my pet peeves is people who think things were better in the past than now. People who feel they're "being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century" (actual words I heard someone say in Best Buy). Sure, nostalgia is pleasant, and we always see the past with rose-colored glasses. Everyone remembers The Fresh Princes of Bel-Air and Nirvana. No one remembers chain wallets or Pauly Shore or the rat-tail or backwards jeans or Hudson Hawk. I haven't heard anyone mention the "authenticity" you get from cassette tapes or they wish AOL was still as far as the Internet reached.

I've been listening to the country station a lot these days, just for something new. It's also the only station that plays music, not commercials. Most of them are about cold beer, partying under a big sky (usually involving a pick-up truck to get there), and a pretty girl in a sundress. A few of them reject the country tropes, wanting to get out of the small town, turning the heel on that cheatin' two-timer. But this song is just asinine.

Quarter in a payphone
If you're at a location that has one. And I believe they cost thirty-five cents. At least they did when I was in middle school.
Drying laundry on the line
Weather. Space issues in the backyard. Bugs and seeds flying into your bed sheets.
Watching sun tea in the window
I assume you're watching it brew, another item that's weather-dependent. What do you do when it rains? Does life shut down?
Pocket watch tellin' time
Who the hell had a pocket watch when you were alive? Were you an 1895 train conductor?
Seems like only yesterday I'd get a blank cassette
Record the country countdown 'cause I couldn't buy it yet
That's piracy, you know. Also, if you bought each song on the Country Countdown (estimated twenty songs), that would be about $240.
If we drove all the way to Dallas just to buy an Easter dress
Yes. It was much better when you had to waste 50 miles of gas for a single errand. Of course, it was cheaper back then. No less toxic to the environment, but still...
We’d take along a Rand McNally, stand in line to pay for gas
I assume that's an atlas you're referring to. Just how far away were you from Dallas? There wasn't a single clothing store closer?
God knows that shifting gears ain’t what it used to be
Yes. Nothing better than returning to poor vehicle safety, steep learning curves, a clutch that messes up your left leg, and archaic, outdated methodologies for the sake of "thrill".
I learned to drive that '55 just like a queen, three on a tree
I assume '55 is some kind of car. Three on a tree (I had to look it up) means a gear shift mounted on the steering column. Talk about distracted driving. It's one more thing to worry about and fiddle with while you're driving. Police don't want you to text, but have no problem moving a lever up and down every ten seconds.
Hey, whatever happened to waitin' your turn
Because everyone was polite in the past. No worries about jerkasses using their muscle or height or wealth or ego to get what they want. No sir, didn't happen. Thing of the past.
Doing it all by hand,
Uh, it probably went away because it's time consuming and hard on the body. Let's go back to the ways of arthritis and lost fingers.
'Cause when everything is handed to you
It's only worth as much as the time put in
That's NOT how PROGRESS WORKS. One person builds the tools or gains the knowledge. The people after him/her use those tools or build on that knowledge to further our understanding, or make finding those things more efficient. We go from paper & ink to printing presses to large scale printers to home printers to eBooks. The content doesn't change but the way information is stored or produced gets better and more efficient. Kinda like the way your music is now made? Or do you think it's cheating to use all those mixers and amplifiers to enhance your sound, like photoshop for your voice.
It all just seemed so good the way we had it
Back before everything became automatic
Yes, let's go back to the time when laundry took six hours. When your grandmother could be fallen down the stairs, paralyzed, and no one would know it. When homosexuals were lynched. When you couldn't push a button to find out where your lost child was. When you had no community for the unusual things you liked, and you were ostracized for it.  When the only way anyone would listen to you was if you were a straight, white male.
If you had something to say
You'd write it on a piece of paper
Then you'd put a stamp on it
And they'd get it three days later
E-mail. Nuff said.
Boys would call the girls
And girls would turn them down
And... this was a good thing? Sure, the girls would turn them down. Then the boys would write them threatening letters, stalk them, spread rumors, and possibly do a little raping. And this would all be neatly covered up with the "boys will be boys" excuse.

And can you tell me what changed about this exactly? Do boys not call girls anymore? Do girls go out with anyone who asks? I'm not sure what you're getting at.
Staying married was the only way to work your problems out
Yes. Staying married will help you work out your problems with abusive, controlling husbands you were forced into marriage with because he was the only one left in your small town.

Hey, whatever happened to waitin' your turn
Doing it all by hand,
'Cause when everything is handed to you
It's only worth as much as the time put in
It all just seemed so good the way we had it
Back before everything became automatic


Let's pull the windows down
Windows with the cranks
You mean the windows that frequently got stuck in a certain position, if the crank decided to break at that particular point? Might work in Greenbow, Alabama or wherever you're from, but in Minnesota, that's a way to die from exposure on your commute. Plus, don't you like being able to open all the windows? For me, there's nothing better than cranking the music and cruising the highway with all the windows rolled down. Feels like a jet fighter.
Come on let's take a picture
The kind you gotta shake
You mean a Polaroid camera? The kind that's AUTOMATIC? Jeez, if it's not the wistful nostalgia that's pissing me off, it's the ignorance. Plus, you wanna compare instant cameras to today's digital cameras? That's a battle you're going to lose. Go ahead.  Take pictures that are blurry and hard to store and fade over time, that you can't remove red-eye or sharpen or order multiple copies of. Also, don't you remember Polaroid's statement after Outkast's "Hey Ya" that you're NOT supposed to shake it?

I wish this girl could decide what kind of time period she wants to be in. Must be nostalgic for the old days. I wonder when her era of choice is...

1983? She's fucking younger than me and she's wistful for the time of postal letters and payphones? Man, sometimes, research and analysis don't pay...

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