Miranda Lambert Basically Channeled Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every once in a while, I enjoy listening to country music. Country songs are also good to sing at karaoke to get the crowd fired-up. And while I enjoy those songs guys sing about drinking whisky and kicking butt, every now and then the ladies catch my eye…with one of their songs!  Recently, I’ve enjoyed Miranda Lambert’s “Automatic.” And the other day while in my car, the chorus jumped out at me in how it made me think of a tenant in the essay from one of the great American philosopher/writers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, called “Self-Reliance.”


First, the song. It basically talks about Miranda’s younger years using examples many of us also lived through: using pay phones, standing in line to pay for gas and actually using the MAIL to correspond with someone (Blogger note: even though I am about ten years older than her, I STILL have cranks on my car windows).  And in the chorus she mentions what happened to those days and how “good” they seemed before everything became “automatic”…like cell phones, swiping our credit cards at gas pumps and using email. So in the chorus she says:

Hey whatever happened to waiting 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…



Enter Ralph Waldo Emerson. He wrote a popular essay called “Self-Reliance” which talks about the need to avoid conformity and “false consistency” and follow your own ideas, no matter how misunderstood. So in the opening he states:

“…that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.”


Let’s look at the two. Lambert’s most significant line to me is “it’s only worth as much as the time put in.” Now pair that with Emerson’s quote, “no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.”


How true is that? Don’t you get the most pride on a job well-done when you do it? How many times have you put an entertainment unit together, fixed your car, or landscaped your own yard…looked at it when done and felt such an incredible joy? It’s one thing to eat a vegetable, but doesn’t it feel more special when it’s a vegetable you took time to grow in your own garden? I feel like I get the most pride from a job the LONGER it takes, and when I do it hands-on.


Sometimes things are so much easier in this technological age that people can get lazy…why read a book when the online synopsis can be found online in a blink? Sure, make our lives easier (sometimes an instructional video online helps me with a project) but let’s not get lazy because so many things are more “automatic.”


I teach this to my daughter whenever possible…I want her to be as self-reliant as she can be.  Now that doesn’t mean she has to do everything in life on her own, but as Emerson says, “none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

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