Dierks Bentley jumps up from a table at a café where a bunch of writers are performing on a winter night. He’s wearing a knit hat and looks like any Gen-X/Y guy there to see a show.

“Man, I have to haul my ass all over the country and perform to make money. You guys just have to walk out to the mailbox,” he observes to Harley Allen before joining in on a song the two of them co-wrote defending Dierks’ weird name.

Country stars in any decade are sort of creating a loose storyline around themselves, and every song is another episode, another extension of the persona they’re putting together as a career.

The songs are scripts. The scripts tell stories. The stories have to fit the characters.

Here are many of the current, main country artists and a glimpse of their characters, which I’ll bet five dollars is all news to you. And because I have embraced the idea of writing to old, time-tested formulas, I have composed each one as a haiku.

Trace Adkins
Seems older, wiser,
Sensitive, grizzled. And his
Videos? Soft porn!

Jason Aldean
Farms, farmers, farm girls,
Hicktown residents, tractors…
Hmm, I sense a theme.

Rodney Atkins
He sings about kids
Selling lemonade, cussing
Eating Happy Meals.

Dierks Bentley
Song choices paint him
As a ramblin’ tough with a
Thing for white tank tops

Big & Rich/Gretchen Wilson
Blast of fresh raw air
Blew in awhile back. Rough, tough,
Rowdy and “real.”

Brooks & Dunn
Coupla Good Ol’ Boys
Actually seem to like each other.
Of course, it’s show biz…

Luke Bryan/Blake Shelton/Keith Anderson
They sing about fun
And it looks like fun singing
About having fun

Kenny Chesney
Blends Buffet’s beach vibe
Glee club enthusiasm
And red neck. Pure Gold.

Bucky Covington/Kellie Pickler/Josh Gracin
Idol contestants
Who apparently didn’t
Listen to Simon

Billy Currington/Jason Aldean/James Ingram/Gary Allan/Joe Nichols
They pick some good songs
Seem like guys you might have known
From your high school class

Dixie Chicks
They’re gone. Done. Sorry.
Their story teaches: only
Feign independence.

Alan Jackson
Venerable ‘stache:
He’s the kind of guy you’d want
As a rich uncle.

Jamey Johnson
Nice beard. He co-wrote
“Honkytonk Badonkadonk”
And a great Strait song.

Toby Keith
Watch your ass, bad guys!
It’s Toby’s boot! (sigh) And yet:
Some excellent songs.

Miranda Lambert
Look out Blake Shelton
We all know she’s your girlfriend
And she seems real pissed

Little Big Town/Lost Trailers/Zach Brown Band/Emerson Drive/Lady Antebellum
They come and they go
These groups with a hit or two
We should wish them well

Lonestar/Diamond Rio/Sawyer Brown/Kentucky Headhunters
Success fades so fast
Even groups with lots of hits
Are bound for State Fairs

Martina McBride/Sara Evans
They both tend to sing
Of girls becoming women,
Learning life lessons

Reba McEntire
She is royalty
Her name is like a totem
And wards off evil

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
Nashville’s first couple
He’s had all those hits. Her, too.
All moods, themes, tempos.

Jo Dee Messina
Tough sounding lady
Judging from the in-your-face
Singles she’s released

Montgomery Gentry
They could kick your ass
Wouldn’t want to make ’em mad
Just do what they say

Craig Morgan
Is he everyman?
Tours armed forces, sings of home,
Boats, love, combines, God.

Brad Paisley
Shatner friend writes, shreds,
Art directs, marries actress.
How Renaissance-y.

Rascal Flatts
These song vendors know
Stadium-sized emotions
Fill up arenas.

Leann Rimes/Trisha Yearwood/Lee Ann Womack
On and off the charts
For years. Songs of love, anger,
Hope, faith, all that stuff.

Darius Rucker
Yep. It’s him. Hootie.
He’s gone country and co-writes
Thoughtful, decent songs.

George Strait
Few people on earth
Have built up as much good will
As this old cowpoke

Their frontwoman has
Hardest “r’s” in the business.
They sure do write hits.

Taylor Swift
The kid writes, endures
Kanye, even wins critic
Sasha Frere Jones’ heart

Travis Tritt/Joe Diffie/Tracy Lawrence/Clint Black
Their hits play daily,
Left over from the nineties:
Solid songs endure.

Josh Turner
Bass voices are great
But the speakers in my car
Can’t take too much Josh

Shania Twain/Garth Brooks
Both are often knocked
For being too commercial.
Garth at least seems nice.

Carrie Underwood
Lordy, she sings loud. High, too. Guess that’s how you win
American I.

Keith Urban
Kidman’s pretty boy
Speaks Aussie, sings Tennessee-y.
Songs? Sorta same-ish.

Clay Walker/Phil Vassar
They’re the Craig Morgans
And the Rodney Atkinses
Of yesterday’s charts

Hank Williams, Jr.
Ready for football?
No introduction needed…
Here comes Bocephus!