Rednecks & Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music

Chris Willman. <i>The New Press. $25.95.</i>

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


Can there possibly be a more succinct distillation of the Bush administration’s worldview than country star Toby Keith’s lyrical post-9/11 promise to “put a boot in your ass”? In this sharp yet dishy book, Chris Willman explores country music’s embrace of such shit-kicking conservatism and how it became the unofficial soundtrack of the Dubya years.

 As a fan, Willman appreciates country’s catalog of cantankerous songs slamming hippies and extolling God and the flag. But as a writer for Entertainment Weekly, he also knows that the genre’s current political bravado—like anything coming out of Nashville—walks the line between authenticity and slick marketing. While you can count openly liberal country stars on one hand (due largely to the fear of being “Dixie Chicked” into oblivion), Rednecks reveals that many Music Row execs are outspoken liberals who know that tunes like “I Raq and Roll” are simply good for the bottom line. Conservatism is part of the country brand, a way to appeal to its red-state fan base. Willman provides plenty of teases for outgunned “bluenecks,” though. After all, no better a source than Dennis Kucinich booster Willie Nelson confides that “Toby’s also a Democrat, you know…. Kind of.”

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate