Rednecks & Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music

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

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.”


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

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


Support our journalism

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