Rednecks and Bluenecks

Craig Aaron reviews Chris Willman’s Rednecks and Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music in In These Times. Willman’s book describes the complete Republican hegemony in post-9/11 Nashville. “He describes President Bush as "the ultimate hat act," a scion of the establishment made over into a brush-clearin' good-ol'-boy. As alt-country gadfly Robbie Fulks once put it: "You went to Andover / What's the banjo fer?"

Willman also looks at the “blueneck” Democrat current within the country scene, epitomised by Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, “a political consultant who's trying to help Democrats reconnect with Red state voters”. Here’s Mudcat: ‘I'd say to Travis Tritt and Lee Ann Womack and the rest of 'em that the one thing they better understand is that their core constituency is getting fucked out here," says,. "In job loss, health care, everywhere you look, rural America's getting screwed."’

However, Aaron says, “Unfortunately, the protest music of these "Bluenecks" is often just as shrill as that of the right. With a few exceptions--like Steve Earle's "Home to Houston" or James McMurtry's "We Can't Make It Here"--the topical songs too often feel like novelty records, no less ephemeral than reactionary ditties like Ray Stevens' "Osama Yo' Mama (You in a Heap o' Trouble Boy)."

Oddly, the piece is illustrated by a photo of Willie Nelson, not mentioned in the article. A look at the great Willie Nelson’s politics might have revealed a more sophisticated version of country politics. Nelson endorsed Dennis Kucinech and is now fund-raising for his buddy Kinky Friedman. "I am endorsing Dennis Kucinich for president, because he stands up for heartland Americans who are too often overlooked and unheard," Nelson said. "A Kucinich administration will put the interests of America's family farmers, consumers and environment above the greed of industrial agribusiness." [Blog link: Outside the Beltway.]


In the same issue, Bob Burnett writes on Jimmy Carter:

“Republicans have so relentlessly branded Democrats as secular humanists that it's important to remember that the vast majority of voters who define themselves as "liberal" or "progressive" also say that they are people of faith. Given this, it's interesting that while Democrats are frantically seeking a moral identity, they largely ignore the most prominent Christian in their party, Jimmy Carter.”

Carter’s book, Our Endangered Values, looks interesting. Maybe more on this some other time!


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