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Lec 5 - Oct 9:2012.docx

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Joshua Pilzer

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) Consumption  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  “…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 images 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 angle  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. Analysis  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 “HELL YEAH”  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? Audience  To whom is this addressed?  How is this a critique of race? Gender? Class?  “Working-class Female Predicament” (Hubbs article) Sounds  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)  Twang  “Twang – lyrical and/or musical – is thus self-referential in country music, it avers a song‟s authenticity like a badge or bumper stickers: when a song is musically arranged along lines more conventionally associated with „rock‟, rhythm „n‟ blues, or soul (to name the most common hybridizations in commercial country music), accented vocalization „saves‟ the song for country radio…” (Mann 79) Form I / / / IV / I / V7 / IV / I / (14 measures) (12-bar blues) I / / / IV / I / V7 / I / (12 measures) (IV) V7 Canonization of the Blues  Canonization of Urban (& Rural) Blues as centred on sorrow, struggle  Formal standardization  Solos  Proliferation of new African-American genres with wider array of themes  Thematic standardization: sex and love Country Music and Whiteness  Country music is neither purely the product of a homogenous „white culture‟ (because nothing of the sort ever existed in the U.S.), nor is it purely „white music‟ (having demonstrable elements of African, African-American, Mexican influences at vari
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