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Tis Christmas season and song is in the air. Which raises a question: What’s the best song about rural America?

We figured nobody would have better (or more) opinions on this topic than readers of the Daily Yonder. So we throw the ball to you, dear readers. What are the five best rural songs. Send them to us ( or go straight to the Yonder Facebook page. Add links to good versions.

To get you going, we have some favorites from our friends at the Center for Rural Strategies.

Shawn Poynter recommends Outfit, by the Drive-By Truckes (which has our favorite line, “Don’t sing with a fake British accent…” So true.). And Ryan Adams’ Oh My Sweet Carolina.

Dee Davis goes for Hillbilly Nation, as done by the Metropolitan Blues All-Stars. And I Wanna Holler (But the Town’s Too Small), by the Detroit Cobras. 

Yonder co-editor Bill Bishop is partial to Levelland by James McMurtry and Roly Poly by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

Yonder co-editor Julie Ardery likes Choctaw Bingo by McMurtry and John Anderson’s Black Sheep of the Family.

Okay, let the debate begin. Get to the Facebook page and start loading up your favs. 

Dave Brubeck Dies — Dave Brubeck is one of the most famous jazz musicians and composers (“Take Five”). He is also a Yonderite, born in Concord, California, and reared in Ione, California, where his father managed a 45,000 acre cattle ranch and farmed his own 1,200 acres.

Brubeck died Wednesday. He would have been 92 on Thursday.

The New York Times obituary noted that he was forbidden to listen to the radio as a youth because “his mother believed that if you wanted to hear music you should play it.” 

Brubeck got his first jobs playing at Lions Clubs and Western Swing dances for $8 a night. Until he went to college, Brubeck wanted to be a rancher.

A Very Blunt Grandin — Temple Grandin gave it straight when she talked to the Iowa Farm Bureau this week, according to the Des Moines Register’s Dan Piller. 

“I call them ‘slaughterhouses,’ not ‘harvest facilities,’ ” Grandin said. The animal rights authority and Colorado State University professor declared that conditions in slaughterhouses “are much, much better than they were even in the 1990s. The industry has done much to reform itself for humane treatment of animals.”

Grandin’s story — she overcame autism and eventually earned a doctorate in animal science — was turned into an HBO movie. Claire Danes portrayed Grandin.

Grandin talked against “ag gag” laws, sow gestation crates (“If a sow can’t lie on her side, that’s hideous.”) and admonitions that rough handling at the slaughterhouse reduces meat quality.

New Republicans on Ag Committee — Here are House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas’ choices for new Republicans to serve on the committee in the next Congress: Dan Benishek (MI-1); Chris Collins (NY-27); Rodney Davis (IL-13); Jeff Denham (CA-19); Richard Hudson (NC-8); Doug LaMalfa (CA-1); Ted Yoho (FL-3).

About Those Soaring Food Prices — A world food price index finds that food costs are down three percent from one year ago, AgriPulse reports

State Department on Keystone XL — The Omaha World-Herald reports that a “preliminary decision from the U.S. State Department on the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline project is coming soon, catching some by surprise because Nebraska’s review of the controversial project is not yet done.” 

Paul Hammel reports that a State Department official, speaking anonymously, said that a draft environmental impact statement on the revised route of the pipeline will be finished “in the near future.” Another source said the report could be out as early as next week.

The pipeline would carry oil sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. After protests in Nebraska, the State Department held up granting a permit for the pipeline to cross the U.S./Canada border. And TransCanada, the pipeline builder, rerouted the pipeline in an attempt to skirt environmentally fragile parts of Nebraska. (There is an ongoing dispute as to whether the new route succeeds in that regard.)

The State Department has the final say on the permit. Susan Rice, President Obama’s apparent choice to be the new Secretary of State, owns millions of dollars of stock in companies developing Canadian oil sands — including TransCanada.

What To Do With Closed Prisons? — The Atlantic reports that there is a prison bust going on. After decades of opening new prisons, Emily Badger reports, there is a decline in prison population and some states are closing facilities. 

Many of these are in rural areas, as we know. So the question is, what happens to these gray hulks now that they are empty?

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