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MUS111H1 Lecture Notes - Redneck Woman, Emmett Miller, Gretchen Wilson

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Joshua Pilzer

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Redneck Woman and the Social Poetics of Country Music
Gretchen Wilson
Song was #1 for 5 weeks in 2004 (also #21 on pop charts), part of platinum-selling album
Here For The Party
Became her signature song and persona
Earned her a Grammy award (Best Female Country)
First-call female to record demo‟s due to her excellent vocal skills
Taste and Choice
Critically examine taste and choice and reasons behind them
Take a step away in order to observe (doesn‟t matter what you think in this case)
People have great investment in their relationship with music (Why do others like it? How
and why is it made meaningful? Liberating?)
Taste in (choices of) music as marker of individualism and identity (we design ourselves
around consumer choices, choice is central node of identity in liberal society)
Country music‟s meaning is not fixed – most people see it as having „sprung up from the
soil‟ (boondocks) – not the case: it‟s country music because those collectively listening to it
make it country music
Music is given meaning in its consumption (i.e. the choices that people make)
Paradox of individual identity as part of a group (set apart from some and amongst others)
Process of innovation becoming commodity (think A&H) means that the reproduction
replaces the real thing, and is thus susceptible to all forms of manipulation (within
„acceptable‟ limits) country music plays on these ideas that are already „in the air‟ and
positions itself to be a representative of those idea yet the ideas are being manipulated
Music is capable of constituting and producing a culture while positioned as a representation
or reflection of that same culture (Mann article) how country music creates the culture it
pretends to reflect
Popular vs. Vernacular
Country music has identity as both
Popular: mass-produced, disseminated, Billboard charts, stars
Vernacular associations set it apart from other U.S. genres
o Vernacular: native or indigenous; expressed or written in the native language of a place,
as literary works; using such a language; of or pertaining to such a language; using plain,
everyday, ordinary language
Crucial to country music‟s longstanding popularity
**Themes of Country Music lyrics
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“…rural life, work and everyday working-class life (especially contrasted with that of the
affluent), heterosexual „salvific love‟ (salvation love), family life and „values‟, the southern
U.S., youthful rebellion, Christianity, alcohol, death, humour, and nostalgia” (Mann 81)
When it reflects the south, it‟s reflecting an already existing ethos not that country always
has to be about the South or listened to by people in the South, it just banks on those sets of
Redneck Woman Lyrics
Comparing herself to „fancier‟, higher classes – “I ain‟t never been the Barbie doll type”;
can‟t drink Champagne, drinks beer
Stereotypical redneck image of a woman with a baby reclaim that image from another
Call to arms, rally in cry (“So here‟s to all my sisters out there keeping it country”)
Signifying other famous country singers Charlie Daniels, Tanya Tucker, Hank William Jr.
Lifestyle choices as markers of identity (beer/champagne), honky tonk and tailgate, „hell
yeah and yee haw‟
Alignment with previous/other star singers (establish songs as part of continuum) Skynard,
Kid and Strait, etc.
Tanya Tucker original Redneck Woman? ; Hank William Jr. first family of country
music, outlaw associations
Domesticity personified
Anti-escapism, portrayal and glorification of the everyday
“…it is important to note that country, like other popular music, is both a commercial
product and an artist medium and, as such, directs its appeals to fantasy and imagination as
well as selected perceptions of reality” (Nadine Hubbs)
Looked down upon, respond with defiant dismissal
Disavowal (repudiation not disowning or denial)
Reclamation (redefined by subject)
Sense of (manufacturing of?) group solidarity “Here‟s to all my sisters”, group response
Promotes (creates?) sense of collectivity implication that there‟s a whole bunch of
redneck women out there, is this true? Or is this collectivity created in the moment?
To whom is this addressed?
How is this a critique of race? Gender? Class?
“Working-class Female Predicament” (Hubbs article)
Rock instrumental (electric guitar, bass, drums)
Steel guitar and fiddle in chorus („Redneck‟/Country music signifier)
Group singing (unison to call and response) group coming together just before the big
“Hell yeah”, as a unification and interaction – how does this play on the sense of the group?
Lead voice; Twang (cry breaks whispery, emotional addition to vocals)
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