Rita Wilson Is Latest to Ask, “Where’s My Country Song?”

Look, before we get too deep into this discussion, the claim here is not that Rita Wilson is a true blue country artist, or that this song is a hardcore country song. In fact one of the cool things about it is that it’s not really a country song, and the fact that it’s coming from Rita Wilson. Yes, we’re talking about that Rita Wilson—the well-known actress that also happens to also be married to Tom Hanks (just in case you need some context).

For a few years now, Rita Wilson has been dabbling in her passion for music, and releasing songs and albums here and there, going on a few tours, and making appearances at celebrity functions and fundraisers in the capacity of a music performer. This includes working with some people with ties to the country music realm such as Nathan Chapman (known for being Taylor Swift’s original producer), and Kristian Bush of Sugarland, along with working with people from other genres.

Wilson has even released a few songs that you probably could characterize as adult-contemporary “country” under the modern definition—nothing really of major importance from a commercially-successful standpoint, but her efforts are more than a mere hobby or lark, and she’s really poured herself into songwriting lately. Consider Rita like a contemporary of Sheryl Crow who moved to Nashville and became sort of a late career country-adjacent music performer.

Anyway, this new song Rita Wilson just released called “Where’s My Country Song?” hits at the heart of something really important. Well-written aside from maybe the bouncy and somewhat list-like chorus that more emulates a pop country song as opposed to offering a healthy alternative to it, it’s the perspective forwarded in the song that makes it such an interesting specimen and discussion point.

As a country fan, obviously the music resides in an important place in your cultural ethos. But even to people who place country somewhere farther down their musical totem pole, it still may mean something, and something specific and important, even if it’s secondary to other things. Maybe country music is where you turn to when you’re feeling nostalgic, or perhaps when you’ve had your heart broken. Country is a distinct kind of musical medicine that you reach for when the right mood hits you.

But of course with the downward slide of country radio, and the way much of the music now sounds so similar to everything else on the radio dial—and the way modern country always paints a rosy picture—you no longer have the option of turning on the country station, or pulling up a popular country playlist, and finding what you traditionally turn to country music for.

Co-written by Rita Wilson with Lee Dewyze “Where’s My Country Song?” bemoans reaching for country, only to find “another white T shirt and a backroad … another perfect life that I’ll never know … the radio keeps getting it wrong … so tell me, where’s my country song?”

The song recounts putting in days of hard work, and not being able to relate to what today’s country singers are singing about. In other words, Rita Wilson just released a country protest song.

To soft peddle the impact, and pique the interest of the media, officially Wilson is saying about the song, “I love country music and writing songs in Nashville. I was thinking about all the women in our country, doing their jobs, and how they have always helped our country run efficiently. Women have always been pillars of strength, but now with coronavirus, millions of women comprise the essential workers who are on the front lines, and so critical to our nation.”

This is true as well, and the song was released to roughly coincide with Mother’s Day. But make no mistake, “Where’s My Country Song?” has a pointed message that resonates with a lot of disenfranchised country listeners who’ve seen something they care about slip into simply another version of pop while often leaving the perspective of women behind. The ending of the song is also great foreshadowing of what will continue to happen if country continues to not fulfill or represent country fans.

Again, this is not necessarily a recommendation for your personal playlist or listening rotation, though the song is really well-done for what it is. But listening to “Where’s My Country Song?” from someone like Rita Wilson really hits home on just how deep the disappointment with today’s mainstream country music goes. Similar to when we saw sports fans up in arms whenever Brantley Gilbert performed on Monday Night Football, or Luke Bryan during the NFL Draft, country music means something to many people, including people who aren’t primarily country fans. And they’re offended just as much as hardcore country fans when they hear what passes for today’s popular “country.”

Most everybody goes looking for a country song upon occasion that speaks to their current struggles. And though many independent country fans know where to turn to find the right stuff, many who turn on the radio don’t. And the disappointment is so serious and commonplace, the subject is worthy of a song itself.

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