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Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music

Nadine Hubbs

Publication Year: 2014

In her provocative new book Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music, Nadine Hubbs looks at how class and gender identity play out in one of America’s most culturally and politically charged forms of popular music. Skillfully weaving historical inquiry with an examination of classed cultural repertoires and close listening to country songs, Hubbs confronts the shifting and deeply entangled workings of taste, sexuality, and class politics.

In Hubbs’s view, the popular phrase "I’ll listen to anything but country" allows middle-class Americans to declare inclusive "omnivore" musical tastes with one crucial exclusion: country, a music linked to low-status whites. Throughout Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music, Hubbs dissects this gesture, examining how U.S. provincial white working people have emerged since the 1970s as the face of American bigotry, particularly homophobia, with country music their audible emblem. Bringing together the redneck and the queer, Hubbs challenges the conventional wisdom and historical amnesia that frame white working folk as a perpetual bigot class.

With a powerful combination of music criticism, cultural critique, and sociological analysis of contemporary class formation, Nadine Hubbs zeroes in on flawed assumptions about how country music models and mirrors white working-class identities. She particularly shows how dismissive, politically loaded middle-class discourses devalue country’s manifestations of working-class culture, politics, and values, and render working-class acceptance of queerness invisible.

Lucid, important, and thought-provoking, this book is essential reading for students and scholars of American music, gender and sexuality, class, and pop culture.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Publisher Acknowledgment, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xiv

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pp. 1-20

White working folk in the American hinterlands are rednecks. And rednecks are bigots and homophobes. This is common knowledge and reliable terrain for launching any number of stories, jokes, and armchair analyses. So the alternative rock band Foo Fighters stood on solid ground when, in late summer 2011, they posted online a jokey music video marrying two incongruous types, the redneck and the queer. The video featured an original song track titled “Keep It Clean (Hot Buns)” and four band members in hillbilly and trucker getup depicting long-haul drivers rendezvousing at a truck stop...

Part I: Rednecks and Country Music

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1. Anything but Country

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pp. 23-50

There is a phrase I have heard on the first day of classes for the past decade, ever since—for ice breaking as much as informational purposes—I began asking my undergraduates, “What do you listen to?” Now, every semester, it issues from students of various sorts, a line so familiar as to be recognized by all, even when mumbled hurriedly by the shy and self-conscious: “Anything but country.”...

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2. Sounding the Working-Class Subject

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pp. 51-104

Chapter 1 examined the declaration “Anything but country” and other instances of country music exclusion as acts that help to produce the American middle class, a process of distinguishing oneself from the working class, which since the 1970s has been increasingly figured in terms of conservatism, whiteness, and bigotry...

Part II: Rednecks, Country Music, and the Queer

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3. Gender Deviance and Class Rebellion in “Redneck Woman”

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pp. 107-130

In 2004 Gretchen Wilson exploded onto the country music scene with “Redneck Woman.” The blockbuster single led to the early release of her first CD, Here for the Party, and propelled it to triple platinum sales that year, the highest for a debut in any musical category. “Redneck Woman” shot to No. 1 faster than any country track in the previous decade and held the top spot for five weeks...

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4. “Fuck Aneta Briant” and the Queer Politics of Being Political

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pp. 131-158

In 1978, David Allan Coe was at the peak of his career. He opened the year with a songwriting grand slam in Johnny Paycheck’s release of “Take This Job and Shove It,” which climbed to No. 1, spent eighteen weeks on the country charts, and inspired a 1981 Hollywood comedy of the same name (which introduced monster trucks to the big screen)...

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pp. 159-162

David Allan Coe was a top-selling singer and songwriter in his 1970s prime, but his antibourgeois and antihomophobic 1978 underground album track “Fuck Aneta Briant” stands apart, in its ribaldry and blatant obscenity, from mainstream country music. By 1992, Garth Brooks had sounded a more earnest, even churchy, antihomophobic note with “We Shall Be Free.”...


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pp. 163-194


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pp. 195-208

Subject Index

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pp. 209-222

Song Index

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pp. 223-226

E-ISBN-13: 9780520958340
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520280656

Page Count: 212
Publication Year: 2014