Gretchen Wilson’s “Outlaws & Renegades” (A Rant)
There is a war going on right now for the heart of country music my friends, and we just had a salvo shot right into our belly. I would love to be sitting here writing about one of the countless original, highly-talented bands out there that Music Row won’t even let sniff it’s panties, but every day I have to watch an art form that I love get dragged through the mud and exploited for every last dollar possible, and I must comment.
The latest felonious assault on country comes from pop country’s Gretchen Wilson, from her new album I Got Your Country Right Here. Her song “Work Hard, Play Harder” was legally found to be a ripoff of a Black Crowes song, and yet, this isn’t even the most sinister song on the album. That distinction belongs to the song “Outlaws and Renegades.” The first verse goes:
Well just the other day I was driving down the road
And I thought I turned on my country radio
Well I didn’t recognize a single song, or none of the names
But it didn’t really matter because they all seemed to sound the same
Where’s all the Outlaws and renegades?
Some might think that I would applaud lyrics like these coming from a mainstream country artist, even though in my world they were cliche half a decade ago. But the problem is their just words, and Gretchen’s actions speak louder.
I Got Your Country Right Here is a pop album. I have listened to it cover to cover, and not only hear nothing Outlaw, but nothing original. Some of the ballads are somewhat decent, but I can’t even dress this album up as being traditional, like a George Strait or Miranda Lambert album, it’s just pop. So that means these lyrics did not come from an Outlaw inspiration, but an inspection of the country music landscape and how to profiteer off of it.
Where’s all the Outlaws and Renegades Gretchen? Haven’t you heard of JB Beverly and The Wayward Drifters? Or how about Lucky Tubb? Or what about Hellbound Glory, or Hank III, or Bob Wayne, Rachel Brooke, Dale Watson, Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Brigitte London, Peewee Moore, William Elliot Whitmore, Whitey Morgan & The 78’s, Jayke Orvis, James Hunnicutt, Joe Buck, Dex Romweber, The Deadstring Brothers, The Calamity Cubes, Pete Berwick, Ronnie Hymes, Kara Clark. . . .
Let me catch my breath for a sec . . .OK.
Little Lisa Dixie, .357 String Band, Split-Lip Rayfield, Scott H. Biram, The Honky Tonk Hustlas, Devil Makes Three, Karling Abbeygate, Hillstomp, Highlonesome and many many more?
And thanks for noticing, but Willie Nelson is still around, putting out relevant music, and so is Billy Joe Shaver, and David Allan Coe, and Roger Alan Wade. The Outlaws have always been here Gretchen, you were just too busy to notice because you were riding that same gravy train that you’re now flame throwing because you think it is expedient from a marketing standpoint.
Great, you started your own label, but you were more Outlaw when you fought for creative control of your music and the radio was ignoring you. Now you’ve gone back to selling out to keep your 30 employees and 300-acre spread in the black. Being an Outlaw is about priorities and principles, and you can’t make up for leaving all those behind by paying lip service to the disgruntled country music fan in a pop song. Being an Outlaw means doing it YOUR way, money be damned.
Since Hollywood has gone country, Nashville has gone Outlaw. Unfortunately the music hasn’t followed suit, it’s only the Nashville suits throwing around music terms to try to move more “units”. Instead of fighting against the REAL country music insurgency, Music Row is trying to incorporate it, assimilate it, steal our vigor and our words to try to keep the agro music consumer within their fold.
It will not work.
Gretchen Wilson is not an Outlaw, a renegade, a redneck, or a blue collar. She’s not even white trash. She’s just trash, period, for stealing songs and our message to get a sputtering pop country career back on track.
April 5, 2010 @ 6:20 pm
Fuck Yeah Brother !!
April 5, 2010 @ 6:49 pm
Check out our songs “Outlaws”, “Hard to Wave Goodbye In Handcuffs” and “Lets Not Be Alone
Earle-Guns of Nevada
April 5, 2010 @ 7:08 pm
This is the problem when pop isn’t a dirty word, or even distinguishable in the minds of both listeners and artists. She doesn’t have a clue in hell that what she’s doing isn’t as authentic and gritty as she thinks it is or as it’s being marketed to be. This garbage is as authentic as it will get, both for her and for a fair number of the fans.
April 5, 2010 @ 8:19 pm
Well maybe pop is becoming a dirty word. That is why people like Gretchen and Josh Thompson are throwing around “Real” and “Outlaw.” Since Taylor Swift rules the country music roost, there’s bound to be a backlash of some sort by the traditionalists.
Ry O. Ny
April 5, 2010 @ 9:52 pm
Hey Gretchen Wilson!!!! Hope you read this, let it soak in real slow like….smell the vapors? Thats right breathe deep, In your nose out your mouth, now here, catch this match POOF!!!! Gone. If only it were that easy. Corperate Country R.I.P.
Cathy's Reinstate Hank Bandwagon
April 6, 2010 @ 5:17 am
Gretch don’t want people like Brigette London or Tonya Watts or Bad Housewife or Rachel Brooke around because THEY ARE REAL and then the masses would know that REAL Country Music does exist….Gretch wouldn’t make a “country” pimple on the REAL artist’s asses!!!
April 6, 2010 @ 5:24 am
April 6, 2010 @ 10:14 am
Absolutely, 100%, nail on the head, right on, exactly…..!!!!
Nate The Great
April 6, 2010 @ 11:31 am
I think posing in front of old cars makes you an outlaw. Especially in booty shorts and a bikini top.
David Lee might cut the grass
April 6, 2010 @ 11:54 am
I think Gretchen belives the so-called Musik Mafia to be outlaw (note the K in Musik … hip hop enough huh). She has probably never paid much attention to artists like Hank III. Hank Jr. has tried to give too much credibility to those losers and Kid Rock in order to heighten his own career while actually making a mockery of his own career. It worked for all of them financially, but is now sinking into showing it’s flash in the pan quality. To my dismay, I don’t think Hank Jr. can ever redeem himself now … it’s too late. And it’s too late for Gretchen to try to get even richer off the pop country wannabe outlaw fans. She’s an old victim of the one hit wonder because she’s old and not cool anymore to the next biggest thing. But who gives a fuck .. we listen to real music.
April 6, 2010 @ 1:19 pm
Still do and always will love a lot of Hank Jr.’s older stuff, but yeah, watching Kid Rock and Gretchen use him as a stepping stone makes me sick. With Waylon, Cash, and Johnny Paycheck gone, Jr. could’ve slid right into being that elder statesman Outlaw. Now he’s just a ‘rent a legend’ for pop artist to get pub from.
April 6, 2010 @ 1:52 pm
Just another poster child for Nashville’s “new outlaw movement.” They can fool the pop country sheep into thinking these are outlaws, or rebels, or whatever “edgy” word they decide to throw at them, but they will never be able to fool the real fans.
April 6, 2010 @ 4:12 pm
That’s quite a list of contemporary Outlaw bands Triggerman, you got me all fired up for the music I love! I’m not familiar with Gretchen Wilson, but I’d hazard a guess that Rachel Brooke has more soul in her pinky fingernail than she does.
Cathy's Reinstate Hank Bandwagon
April 6, 2010 @ 6:28 pm
“rent a legend” lmao
April 9, 2010 @ 12:27 pm
I heard an interview w/ her on Outlaw Country. Mojo asked if she liked Hank III. She said she’d met him, but never heard his music. ’nuff said
April 10, 2010 @ 2:35 pm
Hahaha, great blog! That skanky outfit should be outlawed!
April 11, 2010 @ 12:35 pm
Hated this girl until I saw the video of her singing at the Opry to the ghosts of deceased members. The video was a pandering piece of crap, but she pulled off the song well. It was a Big & Rich number, the only tune of theirs I’ve ever enjoyed. They are true enemies of traditional country music, tarting up and dumbing down an American institution. (To those who think country music is dumb anyway, meet me outside.) JohnRich (real name?) seems like an ok guy with political views to the right of Attila the Hun and a mouth bigger than Texas. The tall one doesn’t do shit. I’d truly like to hear Gretchen Wilson tear into some decent material, She’s got pipes, attitude and abs. Next album, please.
June 29, 2010 @ 12:03 am
You sound as though you have a LOT of issues surrounding hate. There’s NOTHING wrong with Big Kenny & John Rich (and if Rich was not his real name, would it be the first time a performer did such a thing?!) I have met them both, had dinner with Kenny. They’re both very nice, caring folks, & talented. AND they give of their time & money to different causes. AND they care about their country. Maybe THAT’S part of your problem with them. And Gretchen…? She’s evidently filled a niche close to home for a lot of folks, or her records & shows wouldn’t have sold like they have. And yes, I DO LIKE traditional country music (Cash, Haggard, Hank Sr., etc.), if you want to call it that. But as Big & Rich have proven, and tried to impress on the world, Country Music has become a genre open to many people of different walks of life. Not sure that there’s that much room for the snooties though.
October 7, 2010 @ 5:39 pm
however ya look @ it..that pic of her in front of the truck sais “bang me.”
December 12, 2010 @ 1:22 pm
I agree that Gretchen is not an outlaw in a Hank III sort of way. However, if you listen to the music coming out of music row right now Gretchen could be considered an outlaw. She sings about being true to yourself and not giving a damn what other people think. She also got away from a major Nashville label and started her own. And her new album “I’ve Got Your Country Right Here” is far from pop country. Apparently this person hasn’t heard Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift. That is pop country. I personally don’t think either one of those girls deserve to be in country music. But there are a handful of girls who deserve to be in country music ( Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, Gretchen…and let’s not forget that Loretta Lynn is still going strong ) These ladies are staying true to their country roots, which is what country music desperately needs right now.
June 7, 2012 @ 2:42 am
Well, I can only speak from my one experience with her at the ZZ Top show, but she’s not fan friendly at all. Not like anyone was asking for much of her time for the 80 or so fans in line to get an autograph or photo, but she was really rushing people and just not being that friendly. She was the opening act, so would it have killed her to spend just a little more than 3-5 seconds interacting with each fan? Plus, you had to buy a piece of merchandise for her to autograph just to get the privilege of getting in the line. Look, I know she’s got to make money, and I know she’s a busy person, but come on. People expect a little more especially when forced to buy something (I was gonna buy it anyway). People asking for a photo, and she tells them to do it while she’s signing merchandise (and this is while she’s on the other side of a big table, couldnt get that close to her). At least she said nice to meet you and shook some hands….its just the whole thing was handled with poor taste. Keep that up and you will lose fans and not gain any new ones. I was a new one, and love her voice, but I’ll never try to interact with her again, and I def wont pay to see her in concert unless she’s opening for someone I really want to see.
November 1, 2013 @ 10:53 pm
Very telling, David. She’s no longer on the grid.