I wouldn't know a spark plug from a fuel pump. I'm the kind of girl who, literally, drives like a girl. Yet I can't go by a Napa Auto Parts without going in. I just have to shop where Alan Jackson shops. What if I ran into him? What if the owner knew someone who knew someone who knew Alan? The same goes for beer. When I came of age, I was living in Detroit where Stroh's Beer was all there was. But that was before I discovered Brooks & Dunn, who turned me on to Coors Light. Now that's the only beer I'll drink. Unless I'm at a Kenny Chesney show, when I can think of nothing better than a few refreshing Cruzan and Diets, just like the ones he sings about in "Old Blue Chair." Because of country music, I have become the kind of consumer brand managers love. I'm what they call a heavy user. Completely loyal. Maybe even a little over the top. Like insisting on a Ford when I was into Toby Keith. Or stocking up on Elidel just in case, like LeAnn Rimes, I started suffering from a severe case of eczema. Or keeping a tin of Skoal in my back pocket not because I chew, but because I want to have something in common with Gretchen Wilson. It's as if using the products the artists use will bring us a little closer. So if and when I do meet one of them, we'd have an immediate conversation starter. I can just picture meeting Phil Vassar and telling him that I take Prilosec, too. We could bond while we talked about our troubles with frequent heartburn before we both found over-the-counter relief.
I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. So if there's a country music fan on your holiday gift list this year, here are a few shopping ideas that are sure to please the fan and the marketing departments of big corporations everywhere:
* Any Keith Urban fan would love a pair of the Gap jeans he's pitching.
* Treat a Trace Adkins fan to breakfast at a Waffle House near you.
* Get that Brad Paisley devotee on your list a fresh pair of Wranglers.
* If you know a Terri Clark fan, surprise her with Terri's favorite Justin boots: Black Full Quill Ostrich.
* Fans of newcomer Carrie Underwood would love a new pair of Skechers.
* If you know someone who's into Big & Rich, and you're big and rich, get them a shiny new Chevy Silverado.
* For the Shania Twain fan on your list, wrap up a package of Febreze Scent Stories.
* If you'd rather donate to an artists' favorite charity, check out Reba McEntire's involvement with Habitat for Humanity, Willie Nelson's dedication to FarmAid, Trisha Yearwood's contributions to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, Toby Keith's loyalty to Ally's House, Martina McBride's commitment to the YWCA and the work of Tim McGraw, Darryl Worley and countless other artists who give so much to the American Red Cross.