IASPM 2014: Gendered Taste in Country and Americana Music Communities

Survival, Revival and the Negotiation of Gendered Taste in Country and Americana Music Communities

Dave Robinson, Leeds Beckett University

Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn: “The Coal-Miners Daughter”, married at 15 and had 4 children by the age of 20. In the paper presentation we hear “Don’t Come Home a’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” (1967)

ABSTRACT: Defining marginal country music worlds as broadly either working-class survivalist or middle-class revivalist, I examine how counter-hegemonic representations of gender and sexuality have both infiltrated, and been co-opted by, mainstream ‘country culture’ during the early years of the twenty-first century.

I argue that the disruption of traditional gender roles located in the song lyrics and lived experiences of such country icons as Hank Williams and Kitty Wells, highlights a paradox of American working-class identity that takes on new relevance amongst survivalist cultures in the post-industrial, post-9/11 United States. I also connect the ethics and aesthetics of the alt.country/Americana ‘movement’ to the post-modern anxieties of middle-class urbanites, and to the construction of a more democratic narrative of nationhood from amongst the signifiers of a ‘lost’ rural past.