Music Discussions

Old Town Road

old-town-road

Old Town Road – Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus

Main Point: We may achieve things in our own efforts, but it’s only through God that we can be wholly sufficient for the things we were created to achieve.

Vital Info Before You Get Started: The following info should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.

  • IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: We at The Source for Youth Ministry believe that certain elements in our youth culture can serve as good discussion jump starters with students. At the same time, we would never hope to introduce teens to a negative influence that they haven’t already encountered. This balance is a delicate one. In our experience most teens, churched and unchurched, keep pretty current with music and music videos like this one. Thanks to YouTube, MTV.com, Spotify, and iTunes, the most popular music videos and songs are free to access only a click away. If you decide to use this, do so by catering it to fit your family’s needs.
  • Montero Lamar Hill, otherwise known as Lil Nas X, hails from Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Starting out as an internet personality, Lil Nas rose to fame through his unique approach to social media known as “scenario threads.”
  • Eventually Lil Nas began putting his music on SoundCloud, which led to his viral hit Old Town Road. The song gained controversy due to disputes on its genre, with some seeing it as Country while others place it on the R&B/Hip-Hop spectrum.
  • Country music star Billy Ray Cyrus is featured in the remix of Old Town Road.

Introducing the Song – Say Something Like This: Known as a country/rap hybrid, Old Town Road caught fire on the video sharing app TikTok. Video creators were inspired to use the song in a creative effort where they transformed themselves into cowboys and used the hashtag #yeehaw. These videos were seen more than 70 million times. Despite desiring to stay independent, the viral success of Old Town Road led Lil Nas X to sign with Columbia Records. The song was put on the Country Charts but removed as it was considered a mistake to classify the song as country, which created online controversy.

The Music Video: The music video can be viewed for free at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ysFgElQtjI

Song Lyrics – Old Town Road (Remix)

[Billy Ray Cyrus:]
Oh, oh-oh
Oh
Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more
I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more
(Kio, Kio)

[Lil Nas X:]
I got the horses in the back
Horse tack is attached
Hat is matte black
Got the boots that’s black to match
Ridin’ on a horse, ha
You can whip your Porsche
I been in the valley
You ain’t been up off that porch, now

Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’
Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’

Ridin’ on a tractor
Lean all in my bladder
Cheated on my baby
You can go and ask her
My life is a movie
Bull ridin’ and boobies
Cowboy hat from Gucci
Wrangler on my booty

Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’
Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’

Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more
I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more

[Billy Ray Cyrus:]
Hat down, cross town, livin’ like a rockstar
Spent a lot of money on my brand new guitar
Baby’s got a habit: diamond rings and Fendi sports bras
Ridin’ down Rodeo in my Maserati sports car
Got no stress, I’ve been through all that
I’m like a Marlboro Man so I kick on back
Wish I could roll on back to that old town road
I wanna ride ’til I can’t no more

[Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus:]
Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more
I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more

Three Questions to Ask in the Car (with thoughts to dive deeper with your kids):

Q: Do you ever feel like just getting on a horse (or car) and heading off into the sunset and leaving everything behind?
A: Could start as a fun hypothetical and depending on their response you can share about how everyone sometimes feels like just running away from things; and explore what they are thinking.

Q: When he talks about living like a rockstar and all the things that go with it, do you think achieving that level of success is fulfilling?
A: Talk about how so many celebrities climb the ladder of success only to feel empty when they reach the top. Steer the conversation toward what it looks like to spend your life for things that matter forever.

Q: What do you think about when he says, “can’t nobody tell me nothing”?
A: Probe and start a conversation about their perception of others giving wisdom and advice and how this world pushes the mindset that your heart is always right.

Where to Take It from Here: Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful!  (There is a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged – the next time it feels right, try out another song. Keep engaging them.

For Deeper Discussion:
(If your kids seem into diving in deeper and looking at what the Bible has to say on the subject, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)

Want help getting your teenager engaged in conversation? CLICK HERE for a helpful article from our “Parenting Help” page providing you with 3 Essentials to Talking with Today’s Teens.

Transition Statement – Say Something Like This: Lil Nas X says, “during the month of me making [it], I gave it [the song] a different meaning, so that the Old Town Road would be the symbol for success. The horse would be not having too much, but having what you have, in order to get to where you’re trying to go. The “can’t nobody tell me nothing” part is referring to my parents: wanting me to go back to school, not thinking it’s that likely for [me] to make it.”

This raises the question of whether or not this approach, which can be appealing, is the best one. Are we created to shut out the voices around us, lower our heads, and push forward to find success? Or does God have something different – even something greater for us?

Discussion Questions:

  1. ASK A FEW MEMBERS: Should this be considered a country song? Explain why you think the way you do.
  2. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think Lil Nas X means when he says, “Can’t nobody tell me nothin’, You can’t tell me nothin’”?
  3. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you think there is a time to shut out the voices of other people? Explain why you think the way you do.
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: In light of what we’ve talked about to this point, what do you think he means when he says, “Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road, I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more”? Have you ever felt the way he does? Explain.
  1. ASK ALL FAMILY MEMBERS: What is something your parents told you that you thought was wrong, but ended up being right? When do you think listening to your parents is necessary and when do you think you should push back and fight to go a different way?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Lil Nas X says at one point, “I felt like a loner cowboy. I wanted to take my horse to the Old Town Road and run away. The horse is like a car. The Old Town Road, it’s like a path to success. In the first verse, I pack up, ready to go.” Do you think the road to success is always a lonely one?
  2. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: In light of the previous question, how do you define success in your life?
  3. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: When you consider the success of the song, would you say Lil Nas X has achieved his purpose in this world? Explain why you think the way you do.

Read the following passage:

2 Corinthians 3:5
Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Read 2 Corinthians 3:1-5. What do you think Paul (the author) is trying to communicate in these verses?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think the Bible means by competent/competence?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you believe your abilities and gifts come from God, or do you see them as things you worked for in your life?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Why do you think it’s important for us to recognize that our competence comes from God?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think is the difference between worldly success and the kind of success God desires for us?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: When you consider the struggle Lil Nas X had in trying to shut out the voices he didn’t want to hear, and then pushing forward and finding success, do you think he made the best choice? Explain why you think the way you do.
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: When you look at examples of people like Lil Nas X who stumble upon success as he did, do you think that sends a good message to young people, or do you think it’s misleading them to think they should strive toward the same goal?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: If your competence comes from God, how should that impact the way you pursue your goals?
  1. ASK ALL FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think God has created you to achieve?

Wrap Up – Say Something Like This: The world can try and convince us that if we try harder, if we keep going, we will eventually find success. They lift up stories like Lil Nas X and fight to inspire people to strive toward the same success. Not only are “success” stories like his rare, but they fall short in what you and I were created for. Jesus might say to people chasing after dreams of fame to dream bigger – because you were created for even greater things – things that last beyond this lifetime. God is working in you right now to make you truly competent, wholly sufficient for the works He made you to achieve. Take a moment and acknowledge to Him your desire to fulfill His purposes in your life. Ask Him to reveal to you any ways you are dreaming too small or settling for less.

(Pause and give them a quiet moment to pray silently.)

The only way you and I can discover and live out our purpose in this world is to lean into Jesus in a real way. We need to know Him, in fact Jesus said in John 17:3 that eternal life – the life that starts now and never stops, the life that has more fulfillment than anything, is all about knowing God through Jesus Christ. He alone makes us competent, only He makes us sufficient for the works we were created for. How have you been leaning into Jesus in your life? Take a moment and talk through that with Him and consider where you may need to adjust to refocus on knowing the God you were created to walk with.

(Pause and give them a few moments to pray silently.)

Make no mistake about it, we may achieve things in this world through our own efforts. There will be times when you and I will see tangible signs of worldly success. We may make some money or gain a position or obtain power. It’s not that these things are wrong, but they are just not what you and I were created for. The truth is that it’s only through God that we can be wholly sufficient for the things we were created to achieve. The only reason we don’t have more is because we settle for less. Let’s be people who strive for more, who lean into our Creator to become the people we were made to be so we can fully experience the purposes He created us to embrace.

CLOSE IN PRAYER

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Rob Chagdes

Rob Chagdes

Rob Chagdes is one of the pastors at Prairie Lakes Church in northern Iowa. In the years since he met Jesus as a sixteen year old, Rob has spent his life working to raise up the next generation to love God and invite others into His unending story. He spends most of his free time with his wife Leslie, their three amazing daughters, and their energetic dog Jedi. You can reach Rob at chagdeswrites@gmail.com

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