Gretchen Williams–Redneck Woman

Gretchen Williams pretends to be the post feminist woman that all the boys want to fuck and all the girls want to be… a half camp figure, but with some serious messages as well. She wants to connect class to gender–see redneck used to be all men, she is introducing herself as part of an all boys club. To do this, of course is the name redneck, and the beer chugging and the name checking Charlie Daniels and Bocephus (Hank Williams II, for those not in the know).

But she also talks about having a baby on her hip and wearing Wal-Mart bras for half the price. She calls on Tanya Tucker as the patron saint of this kind of red neck–someone with her own voice, not a character but a person who moves between being a boy and being a girl.

Who else could she have chosen? She would have to be alive–Charlie Daniels and Hank II are, so that would restrict Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells or Tammy Wynette. There is still Loretta Lynn, who has the redneck credential, with Fist City and The Pill, plus she seems to have become rather popular of late–but she is a little old, and only the hipsters still remember. There is Emmy Lou Harris, but she has always been a little too prim. There is Trisha Yearwood, but no one really knows what to do with her, except occasionally buy her albums–something that is happening less and less as time goes on. Then there is Tanya Tucker–she has been through it all, been on the scene for 30 years, been forgotten, originated, for the woman of Williams Generation, this kind of song and has not really been popular since Two Sparrows in A Hurricane in the mid-90s. There is a blowsy, ballsy charm to Tucker that needs a come back and I think Williams is both trying to embody it (there are others, Terri Clark and Martina McBride come to mind, but Terri is all safe greeting card sentiment and McBride does victim centric melodrama, mostly–brilliantly, mind you)and reseruct it.

I wish her luck.