Strong Women in Country Songs

Kristin Devine

Kristin has humbly retired as Ordinary Times' friendly neighborhood political whipping girl to focus on culture and gender issues. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

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37 Responses

  1. The take Kristin is responding to is just plain weird. I know nothing about country except that I don’t care for it, but even I could name a dozen great female performers, and if I named some musicians at random, more would be women in country than in rock, pop, jazz, or classical.Report

  2. Isn’t it entirely fair to criticize country music radio for its bizarre insistence that men get significantly more exposure than women do? The disparities themselves are pretty jaw-dropping, so much so that CMT got in on the act of reporting about them.

    For the people making the criticism, aren’t they saying, “These women deserve more airplay!” rather than something else? Or, I suppose, to put that differently, isn’t the culture war being waged internally by country music’s hierarchy against its female performers who, despite songs like all of the ones above, are given short shrift in exposure and opportunity?

    Also, Loretta Lynn’s late-career collaboration with Jack White is awesome, particularly “Mad Mrs. Leroy BrownReport

  3. Kolohe says:

    I almost don’t even think of 9 to 5 as a country song, cause I remember it being such a smash crossover hit when it came out (i.e. wasn’t listening to country stations at the time, but I still heard it on the radio). Looking it up, it was indeed a number one Hot 100 Billboard charter. And in that same look up, saw that 9 to 5 was the first country song to do so since Harper Valley PTA. Which, I would submit, would be a worthwhile addition to this list of strong women in country songs. (though it was written by a dude; nontheless, clearly a song with a strong female protagonist)Report

    • veronica d in reply to Kolohe says:

      I’d say a song doesn’t stop being “country” (or whichever genre) just because it has crossover appeal. In fact, I’d say crossover appeal is a lovely thing. After all, genre is fuzzy, arbitrary, and socially constructed.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Kolohe says:

      *spoiler alert*

      On a recent episode of “The Orville”, the leader of the Moclan refugee women (Moclans are an all-male species) had never heard music written by females, so Captain Mercer told her to check the ship’s database because it was full of songs written by human women. She listened to “9 to 5” and was immediately inspired by its words and power, concluding that Dolly Parton was a powerful historical figure and great leader. So she took “9 to 5” as her people’s anthem and read it as poetry before the Federation Council while they were debating the fate of her people. Later in the episode the song was used as a battle theme as the Moclan women beat up the Moclan men who’d landed to take them prisoner and force them to all undergo sex reassignment surgery. So Dolly Parton saved every last woman of an entire alien species with that one song.Report

      • bookdragon in reply to George Turner says:

        I loved that. It was a funny twist at first, but then somehow just right. Country has a lot of women’s power anthem type songs, more than most other genres I’d say. Many are of the 9 to 5 variety – a woman standing up a taking control and/or rejecting a man’s control. Dolly Parton had an amazing voice for those. I hope she watched the episode and enjoyed the homage.

        Honestly, my reaction to country music is mixed depending on subgenre. I love Johnny Cash and country that’s closer to Blues. I also enjoy more folk ballad type country (which I think a lot of the songs here fall under). The twangy stuff though? Meh.Report

    • Kristin Devine in reply to Kolohe says:

      Oh man I passed by tons of songs like Harper Valley I’d have loved to put in. Thanks!!Report

  4. Chip Daniels says:

    It was interesting to live through the 70’s and watch groups like The Runaways or Heart or solo artists like Linda Ronstadt, all of which made the music industry appear gender neutral and female-friendly.

    Then later to read memoirs documenting how male-dominated and rife with misogyny it really was.

    The best metaphor I’ve heard about the entertainment industry is the plantation metaphor, where you have this massive base of hungry desperate artists, controlled by powerful gatekeepers.
    And in our society those gatekeepers more often than not are men, so the industry naturally reflects their culture and attitudes.Report

    • This is entirely true, and so my question then becomes why it is so important to point out male domination and misogyny in some arenas at some points in time and not others.

      It’s everywhere and yet only seems to be problematic when some people do it, and not others.

      But of course that’s why I wrote this to begin with.

      Thanks for reading.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Kristin Devine says:

        It’s a fair point. All I can say is, we do talk about it. It’s just, you don’t see that conversation because you’re not tapped into that discourse. For example, this:

        I’m not calling you out for not knowing this stuff. If you’re not tapped into the culture, you won’t see it. For myself, I probably wouldn’t even bother to read an article about sexism in contemporary country music, because I don’t listen to contemporary country music. Plus, I’m going to pretty much assume there is a lot of sexism in country music, because of course there is.

        One question, however, how many openly trans or gay country artists get widely played on contemporary country radio stations? How much positive coverage do they get in the non-gay country music media? Any?

        I expect the answer is pretty much none — unless I’m totally wrong, which would be nice to learn.Report

        • Talking about sexism in the music industry in an organic, non-orchestrated way feels different than whatever this is. This just feels weird to me. Forced. Contrived. Agenda-driven. When a person is looking for an article to write, it seemed like something interesting that may get some traction with readers. At no point did I ever mean to imply that no one has ever written about sexism in the music industry.

          This piece was also not about country music being super inclusive, perfect in any way, etc. Never said that. I can only carry one banner at a time and this one was about female representation and feminist themes in country that I personally enjoy.

          I’ve tried to explain this before, probably badly, but all I’m trying to do is create content for this site. The content I create is in no way supposed to be all encompassing, all inclusive, or in any way a thorough explanation of any given topic (that would yield a really dreadful piece were I to try to do that). It’s just me picking out little interesting vignettes that I think are about article length and writing something about that.

          So the criticism that I didn’t produce an article that’s all things to everyone, hey, i’ll plead entirely guilty, but I’m gonna go on doing exactly that because that’s the way writers write stuff.

          Thanks for reading and commenting.Report

          • veronica d in reply to Kristin Devine says:

            I guess I don’t understand your complaint. I looked at the Jezebel article and found nothing particularly wrong with it. The basic thesis seems to be that women fight an uphill battle in contemporary country music. Is that true? Well, the article has enough citations and interviews to support the case, although I’m sure folks can get into the weeds on the validity of the various points and their interpretation — which is true for literally everything written ever.

            That said, yeah, your list of female country artists and songs is pretty great. I’m not a country fan, but I can certainly recognize why women like Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline (and many more) were pure awesomesauce — you don’t have to be into a genre to recognize that it has some amazing high points. Country has some amazing high points. No small number of those were women. So, yes!

            That said, I suspect the Jezebel article might be identifying a real trend. Moreover, I think that matters, especially if you’re interested in the future of the genre, and not merely on its past.

            Should contemporary feminists ignore what is happening in country music — I guess since it mostly happens in the big flat states? That seems wrong to me. I don’t listen to country, and honestly I feel that its cultural aesthetic reminds me of parts of the country where, if I tried to go there, some big mean fucker would beat me to death with an ax handle he keeps in his truck. But anyway, it turns out that women, minorities, and LGBT people often live in those states. Sometimes they actually relate to that culture, in a way I don’t, given my background. Certainly I want women, minorities, and LGBT people who happen to like guns, trucks, and country music to have a voice.

            Jezebel maybe isn’t the best place for this conversation, obviously, but who else is talking about it today?

            (Probably someone. I wouldn’t know.)


            As an aside, during an earlier period of my life, I used to work sometimes with my hands. I did the kind of job that involved lifting thing and climbing ladders and using the kinds of power tools you don’t buy at Home Depot. I owned guns — rifles, flintlocks, fun stuff. I reloaded ammo and cast my own lead bullets for my muzzleloader. Likewise, I drove a pickup truck with a toolbox. Furthermore, my sister very early on got tired of suburban spaces, so she bought 25 acres in the more country-fried parts of Florida and raised horses. I would stay with her over the summer. These days she lives in the hilly part of North Carolina. The point is, I’m not inherently hostile to that part of American culture. I can speak with a pretty convincing southern accent, because I used to as a kid, over the summer. (It freaks out people when I do it the first time.)

            I honestly wish I could feel safe among the “redstate” crowd. I really do. It’s not “my life.” Constitutionally, I like the city. I like the coasts, but I’ve never hated the kinds of folks who shoot guns and BBQ and go to tractor pulls. I’ve been to tractor pulls. Really.

            I just can’t now. Do you understand? I wouldn’t be safe.Report

          • Doctor Jay in reply to Kristin Devine says:

            I think, Kristin, that if you went through life never seeing any mention of people like you except the super occasional “wow, that person is WEIRD!” you might well be “agenda-driven” too.

            I don’t experience Veronica as making this about you personally. The entire world is like this, and it wears on her, I’m sure.

            I don’t think of you as a person without empathy. Yeah, your article wasn’t about that. It seems to me you felt attacked over something that wasn’t your focus and wasn’t even on your radar. That makes empathy hard. I’ve been in similar situations. My aspiration is to first and foremost, love people. I have failed to live up to that in similar situations.

            The thing is, I don’t read Veronica’s remarks as an attack so much as a wish that the world would accept and acknowledge her situation, and that this would allow everyone to move forward with all the other business of life, for instance, a review of great country songs by women. Can you imagine how it might be a bit difficult to read such a piece if you thought that the world did not include you in the category of “women” even though your own consciousness whispers to you constantly that you are in that category?

            I don’t want to scold you so much as invite you to take a journey. I’ve been on that journey, and I didn’t find it easy. But I did find it rewarding.Report

            • veronica d in reply to Doctor Jay says:

              Funny thing, if the post has been simply “a review of great women in country”, I would have loved it. In fact, I do like this post. (I perhaps didn’t make that clear, and I should.) It’s a great list. Those are great songs by amazing women.

              I was the prefix that bugged me, the whole “Jezebel talked about this!”


              Was the Jezebel article factual? I think probably yes. Was it dismissive or hostile to country music fans? It didn’t strike me as such. It did have a bit of an “outsider” perspective, but so what? It is an outsider perspective. Such things can be problematic, of course, if they are condescending. Was the Jezebel piece condescending?

              I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t be sensitive to that. Maybe. It would be interesting to discuss why.


              By the way, this really has nothing directly to do with trans stuff, although I did bring it up. My point, I didn’t mean to weaponize trans issues against female country musicians. One need not stand against the other. An article about important women in country doesn’t need to talk about trans women, and I’m not suggesting such.

              It’s probably true that a trans woman would have a very difficult time in contemporary country, I suspect more so than rock or EDM or whatever — although even then, it can be hard. That said, is there a contemporary country equivalent of Laura Jane Grace? I’d be surprised.

              As an aside, you can say what you want about the punk rock bonafides of Against Me, but there is something really awesome about being crammed against the stage at one of their shows, pressed next to some big muscle dude with a mohawk, belting along to one of her songs. It’s just — kinda neat.

              Could I ever have a comparable experience at a country show?

              Which has nothing to do with how great Patsy Cline was. The fight for trans rights should never diminish the achievements of cis women. We really should be on the same side.

              I guess I’ll make my central point: a post celebrating the women of country doesn’t need to be about the present culture war. It could just be about women in country. We don’t need to look at the Jezebel piece. That said, I think contemporary country has taken a side in the culture war, and this article, I think, had that as a subtext.

              I’ll say more: contemporary country has chosen the wrong side in the culture war. We are allowed to engage with that. This post didn’t need to “go there,” but it did.Report

              • Maribou in reply to veronica d says:

                I don’t think you’re right about contemporary country having “chosen the wrong side in the culture war,” @veronica, not in the least – and the reason I don’t actually has nothing to do with LGBTQ issues (though people like Dolly Parton (ft. above, by the way), Miranda Lambert (ft. above, by the way), and Kacey Musgraves (ft. above, by the way) certainly have taken a side, and I would think you could appreciate them doing so…) and everything to do with what happened when Billboard refused to put Old Town Road by Nas X on the country charts. Namely, *country fans* rose up, the ones who wanted it on the charts, and the ones who complained actively all over social media, Billy Ray Cyrus sang on the remix, the song took off 5X bigger than before.

                Contemporary country, like most of the damn continent, is in a complicated place when it comes to LGBTQ rights, not a simple one.

                And if you are looking forward to someday maybe being able to enjoy a country concert in an equally safe context as an Against Me! concert, I’d suggest keeping on eye on this singer…

                I have a feeling in five or six years she won’t be the only one I’m able to name immediately, as someone who doesn’t listen to as much country as I’d like to….

                Part of the issue with people looking at this from outside is that country-grounded folks who are A Big Deal generally cross over and stop counting as country / confining themselves to one genre. (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus being the current big three…)

                Miley Cyrus is… also very complicated, but her roots are 100 percent country, she’s out as pansexual and genderfluid, and I defy anybody to listen to her part in this recent Dolly Parton tribute and not hear someone who as vibrantly connects to contemporary country as she does to anyone else. (I mean, Dolly Parton is her frackin’ godmother forpetessake…)


                It’s not that you have opinions and you value critique, you know? it’s the overblown absolutist rhetoric about us vs. them that makes you seem hostile when you mostly? i guess? since you liked this post? aren’t?

                I mean, the Nas X thing would’ve taken 3 minutes to research, and – I think at least – would’ve led a person to not make absolutist statements about the culture war in a vacuum…Report

              • veronica d in reply to Maribou says:

                I’m aware that Dolly Parton is pro-LGBT. In fact, in my book she counts as one of the great gay divas. And I’m certainly glad to learn that in 2018, a country/hip-hop crossover could make the country charts. Likewise, I’m glad to learn there were enough fans who demanded that. On the other hand, the Run-DMC/Aerosmith crossover thing happened in 1986. There was plenty of stupid controversy at the time, but a lot of people liked it. That says something.

                Look, I know it’s “complicated.” Let me be clear, my sister listens almost exclusively to contemporary country, and she is solidly pro-LGBT. I know that non-homophobic country fans exist, just as I know that non-homophobic evangelicals exist.

                But what about the broad currents?

                To what degree can Ms. Cyrus get away with being “out” because she has mainstream appeal? What if she didn’t?

                Anyway, please don’t misunderstand me. You don’t need to defend country music. The music is fine. You don’t need to defend every country fan. They vary, but of course there are plenty of wonderful people who love country music. But please understand, the “God, guns, and guts” crowd hates me, and they are actively working to destroy the lives of me and mine. It’s an ongoing effort. It’s organized.

                The “God, guns, and guts” crowd also loves country music. I can’t fail to notice that.

                Regarding what “country music culture” and “country music artists,” along with “the country music mass culture industry” decide to do — well, what will they decide to do? Which artists will play at which political campaign rallies?

                Saying they’ve “chosen a side” doesn’t mean everyone agrees or that it cannot change. But it’s “a thing.”


                What do you think would happen in you had a popular country music website that 1) profiled a openly trans-femme country performer, and 2) had an open comments section?

                I’m pretty sure they’d have to heavily moderate it. I’m sure they’d delete the more gruesome descriptions of violent retribution against queers. The comments calling for torture and mutilation would be removed, as would those calling for death. They’d delete the worst. But what if they mostly left the forum open? What would the weight of opinion be?

                I’m sure it wouldn’t be 100% either way. Of course not. Things seldom are. But I’m also fairly certainly I couldn’t make it through more than 10 comments before I had to stop reading because of emotional trauma.

                Am I wrong?

                I suspect the comments would be “better than Breitbart.” Can you say more?


                I’m not surprised that a trans country performer exists. Of course one does. There are seven billion people. Everything exists.

                I’m honestly curious though, had you heard of her before? Or did you discover her by googling?

                The point about Laura Jane Grace isn’t that she is a trans punk performer. She isn’t the first. For example, Venus DeMars has been around pretty much forever. The point with Laura Jane is this: when she transitioned, her largely cis fanbase was kinda just cool with it. It was sort of no big deal. People were like, “Oh neat. Good for her.” Then they went on to buy her next album and support her shows.

                It wasn’t universally celebrated, of course. There are transphobic punks. They exist. Duh. But still, things have a cultural weight.

                It’s hard to express how it made me feel when the broader punk community embraced Laura Jane.Report

              • Maribou in reply to veronica d says:

                “What do you think would happen in you had a popular country music website that 1) profiled a openly trans-femme country performer, and 2) had an open comments section?”

                The exact same thing that would happen if I profiled Laura Jane on a punk website with an open comments section.

                And in neither case would it be mainly *fans of the artist* who were filling up the comments with trashy hate. Apples to apples, come on.

                And that’s not really idle speculation, given the combination of my experiences with the punk scene and my experiences being the moderator of a website with an open comments section. I’ve been fag-bashed by punks (oh, the joys of ‘passing’ that I’m told so often about. how *validating* to be physically attacked because you apparently look like a Real Boy.). That was last century, but I’ve been cornered and pushed around this century, plenty. I’ve heard *lots* of bs anti-trans stuff about Laura Jane and been worn down by it. I’m really glad her core fans didn’t waver – I’m really glad you’ve had that experience – I’ve had it myself in other musical contexts, but the idea that punk is some kind of welcoming utopia (overall) and country is a Gods guts and guns wasteland is … incredibly overblown.

                It weakens your argument that there is a *thing* (which for the record I agree that there is) when you cast everything so dualistically. It can’t just be a thing, it has to be THE WAY THINGS ARE. Why? It doesn’t even seem like you believe that, given this comment. What’s the point?

                If you don’t want to be misunderstood, stop talking about messy, complicated, evolving situations as unitary groups that have chosen a side in a war.

                (And it isn’t just the three people I named that have chosen the side you want them to – more than half of these artists, by my count off the top of my head without looking to see if I’m underestimating, are pretty clear in their unwillingness to claim the side you say country is on. And while I did google, it wasn’t because I’d never heard of the singer I linked to, it was because I thought, “OK, country is a genre I love but don’t know well, but even *I* have heard of at least one trans artist… that woman in Toronto… what was her name…. *to the googles*)

                Like, I’m not some die-hard country fan having this argument with you because you’ve injured my pride. I’m the person who appreciates both country and the *complexity* of country culture, even though I listen to EDM and British festival bands 60 percent of the time… you’re just irritating me because what you have been saying is so inaccurate.Report

              • real quick, and then I’m moving on, but on the “broad currents”….

                It’s tough for me on this site when I mention “broad currents” that I perceive (such as, a Jezebel piece followed up by a PBS piece on a topic that seems to me to be unfair and politically driven) and I’m shouted down, asked to produce sources, belittled, called paranoid, etc and yet I’m supposed to respect the “broad currents” others claim when my own lived experience has been quite different.

                If you want me to respect your perception of “broad currents” I wish I could be extended the same courtesy.Report

              • But if it had been a review of women in country music, I would have been ignoring something I perceived in the culuture that bothered me as a person, and bothered my husband as a person, and bothered all the people who wrote comments on the original Jezebel piece as people (many of whom were liberals).

                The reason why I hung it on a framework is because the framework was presented to me. It doesn’t seem quite fair that I should have to ignore/tolerate a framework that I perceive as untrue to prevent you from having to read my framework which you perceive as untrue.

                It’s very very easy to choose sides in a “war” (your word, not mine) when you never hear from the people on the other side. If I hadn’t written about it, you’d never know that the Jezebel piece bothered me or bothered anyone for that matter. You would never know what I was thinking or feeling about anything, and I”d continue to be a nameless, faceless enemy.

                For the good of everyone, I simply cannot shut up and go away or write only about the stuff you want me to write about. That doesn’t force me to engage with you and it doesn’t force you to engage with me. It allows you to continue to see me and people like me as stereotypes and to believe the worst of us.

                I know it’s difficult for you in this world and on this site, and I’m sorry for that. I wish I could accomplish the goal of cross-cultural engagement without hurting anyone’s feelings ever and including everyone all the time in the ways they wish to be included. But I can’t seem to do that while still representing my viewpoint and creating an engaging piece.

                If you’d like to write that off as a personal failing on my part, so be it. But I’m not sure it is a personal failing inasmuch as it is a limitation that affects all writers – we have a few thousand words to say what we want in an entertaining fashion – and so I will push back on that concept when it comes up.

                I wish you nothing but the best.Report

            • Well I ~didn’t~ feel attacked LOL.

              Look, I’m pretty much the most empathetic person available on Planet Earth. I simply feel that what is being asked of me is to carry a load that is impossible both in terms of being a writer and in terms of being a human being, and that I’m being wrongfully judged for not being able to carry an impossible load.

              I cannot carry a banner for everyone all the time. It’s simply not possible to do that, and it isn’t fair to ask it of me. This is not me attacking Veronica in any way. It’s not me depersonizing her. It’s me simply saying that I’m doing the best I can to write entertaining content and as a writer, you pick a lane and write a piece. That’s all I can do. If other people think they have a different lane, write that piece. I’d love to read it, and I’d very likely agree, but this thing that’s happening where my picking a certain lane is in some way telling or informative of who I am and what my prejudices are, it’s simply not true.

              You guys aren’t seeing who I am or where I’m at. You’re really, really not. You’re seeing a stereotype of a person that you believe exists in droves in the real world. But that is not me. The idea I would judge someone unkindly or consider them ill informed or decide they were hostile to me because they hadn’t been to a tractor pull or made their own bullets literally renders me speechless.

              I feel at times, ok, at many times, that the endgame here is to either drive me from this site or to make me so gunshy that I only write things that the bulk of commenters will agree with. That’s not gonna happen and I hope that over time as you get to “know” me better you can see that I’m just a person writing about the world from where they sit. By writing about one angle or from one perspective, it doesn’t mean that I’m intentionally dissing anyone, it’s just some stuff that occurs to me to write about because of the person I am and my set of life experiences.

              And if you judge me for that, ok, I guess I can’t stop you, but I do still hope we can coexist and come to a mutual understanding.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Kristin Devine says:

                @Kristin — For what it’s worth, I certainly don’t intend to attack you, as a person. I was criticizing what you wrote, at least part of what you wrote, but that that was not intended as a criticism of your personhood or moral center.

                Anyway, there is a lot of great country music, a lot of it by awesome women, and you’re totally fine.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Kristin Devine says:

        I think with some genres of pop music, the mainly male music critics had more power to shape how the genre is or should be perceived than other genres. Jazz and rock are really big victims of this. What started off as music that was meant to be enjoyed communally, dance, and sung to got turned into art music that one enjoys by listening passively to. Country music critics never seemed to want to drive country music in this direction while jazz and rock critics did.Report

  5. Fish says:

    Country was awesome from about ’89 until around ’97 or so, and then…¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Willing to admit that this is a “me” problem and not a “country music” problem, but it felt like things changed in the late 90’s and anyone with a pair of boots could get a record deal. Anyway…

    I always liked Jo Dee Messina’s “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” although maybe not necessarily properly in the “strong woman” category:

    Terri Clark’s “Better Things To Do” is solidly strong:

    So many good ones from that era to choose from.Report

    • Kristin Devine in reply to Fish says:

      Nah I’m with you – there was really a great few years there and things have definitely taken a turn of late to music I don’t particularly love. There’s still a lot of good stuff out there, it’s just harder to find on the radio..

      Great songs! Thanks for sharingReport

  6. Doctor Jay says:

    I think there’s a lot of people out there who relate to music in terms of their own identity and how well it meshes or doesn’t mesh with the musical style being expressed.

    And in this regard country music has both its supporters and detractors. But that love or hate often has very little to do with the quality of either the music or the writing.

    When I look at some of the older songs, it’s easy to see that country music wasn’t always associated with conservatism. For instance, Creedence Clearwater Revival really plays and sounds as much like a country band as a rock band. There’s little doubt that John Fogerty was liberal, though.

    Of course, much of the hate of hiphop is similarly based on identity, and a severe lack of understanding of what the genre is about and how it expresses ideas that are every bit as human as anything Hank Williams wrote. Not that I like Hank Williams, but then, I don’t necessarily like all hiphop artists either.

    I do my best not to engage my identity when listening to music, but instead try to appreciate what life was like for that person, for the people making this music. I know who I am already.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      “I do my best not to engage my identity when listening to music,”

      With all kindness, and appreciation for your insights in this thread as elsewhere…. that’s easier for some to do than others. Mainstream culture is definitely set up to make some identities easier to escape from than others.Report

  7. Maribou says:

    Kristin, I really enjoyed this post.

    I’m looking forward to listening to all the videos tonight after work, but even just reading your notes on them right now was a delight.Report

  8. Mike Dwyer says:


    For reasons that should surprise no one here, I loved this post. I’m sorry you had to endure some pretty ridiculous comments here from a couple of people, but I know you have broad shoulders when it comes to that. I could write a lot here about how ignorant some of the stereotypes are in this comment thread, but those have been addressed. I could write a lot about how much I love country music, but I’ve already done that here plenty of times. So instead let me defend the genre a bit more…

    The entire Outlaw Country movement was about being counter-culture. Johnny Cash sang in ‘The Man in Black’

    I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
    Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
    I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
    But is there because he’s a victim of the times.

    I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
    For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
    I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been,
    Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

    Willie smoked a joint on the roof of the White House and wrote a song about gay cowboys awhile back. Kris Kristofferson was a big ol’ hippy and wrote songs for Janis Joplin. Charlie Pride got serious air play at a time when people thought a black man couldn’t make it in country. Looking beyond that, today’s country musicians are much more politically engaged and not so willing to play the conservative card. When Darius Rucker decided to go country, he was welcomed with wide arms. Country musicians sing about everything from spousal abuse (thanks Loretta) to race issues to date rape.

    This link might help some of the un-educated among us:

    Anyway, this is a pretty incomplete defense and I’m sure some people will claim these are anecdotal examples, but I’m a bit grumpy having read some of the comments here. Oh well. We’re driving to Greenville, SC on Friday to see Eric Church (another pretty progressive voice in country). We’ll probably listen to fellow Kentuckian Sturgill Simpson on the way there. I don’t think he’s ever beat a trans person with an axe handle, but he did call the president a ‘fascist pig’ a couple of years ago. And we have tickets to Chris Stapleton in the fall. I don’t know what his politics are but damn he and his wife do a nice duet.Report

  9. Thanks for reading and having my back, Mike.Report