Radical Rednecks

I’m sure most of you who read this title were a little confused, while others of you probably could think of a few times that your favorite country artists said something that went against the staunch-republican-country grain. What may surprise you, though, is that there are more country artists that lean left (in one way or the other) than you think. Here’s a brief list of artists that don’t fit the conservative stereotype of country music completely like you might think they do:

  1. Kacey Musgraves

Alright, this one might be blatantly obvious. Kacey Musgraves’s second single was “Follow Your Arrow,” a song advocating, well, doing whatever the hell makes you happy. This was a very risky decision considering she was just starting out in her career and didn’t have a solid foundation yet, but it’s been met with approval (and some disproval) by her younger target audience. The most obvious “offense” against the stereotype that Musgraves commits is the mention of “kiss[ing] lots of girls, if that’s something you’re into”—it’s no secret that Kasey is a supporter of marriage equality, but did we know that she also supports the use of marijuana? “When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint.” She also makes mention of sex before marriage *gasp*. So risqué, Kasey.

  1. Toby Keith

Are you shocked? I am. With his harsh twang, I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that Keith is a “bleeding heart liberal,” but apparently he is. According to the Witty Bitches website (The name makes me question credibility), Toby Keith advocates for marriage equality, universal healthcare, and women in combat. But, here’s the kicker: he banned guns from his Virginia restaurant. WHAT?! Toby Keith hates the Second Amendment??? Okay, I’m clearly hyperbolizing, but still.

  1. Tim McGraw

Wipe your tears, everyone. Tim McGraw told People magazine that “It’s innate in me to be a blue-dog Democrat.” He and his wife vehemently support President Obama. SURPRISE he also advocates for gun control. And you thought you knew him…. It’s a crying shame.* Actually surprising, though, is that his song “Red Ragtop” touches on the issue of abortion and lyrics indicate that a couple who becomes pregnant decides not to keep their child–very controversial, indeed.

  1. Garth Brooks

Depending on how much you know about Garth Brooks, this might be surprising. Brooks sang at Obama’s 2009 inauguration and is a “long-time democrat.” His song “We Shall Be Free” speaks about being free to love whoever you chose and “worship from our own kind of pew.” He apparently also sings songs about civil rights, race, and domestic violence, some less controversial causes.

  1. The Dixie Chicks

Possibly one of the most obvious on this list, the Dixie Chicks are known for their criticism of President George W. Bush. Perhaps this doesn’t make them liberal, but it certainly puts them at odds with many conservatives. At a show in London in 2003 (introducing the song “Travelin’ Soldier“), lead singer Natalie Maines told the crowd “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”

  1. Willie Nelson

This list would not be complete without our pot-smoking, quasi-religious, country folk star. It is said that once he offered up a joint to Jesus (sweet Willie), but he still believes in reincarnation and wrote a book called the Tao of Willie, detailing Taoism. As you can probably guess, he advocates for the legalization of marijuana. Despite all the criticism that he receives, many country-lovers of every sociopolitical background love their Willie Nelson.

There are many more that make up this list, but these I feel are the most relevant. Regardless of political agendas or causes advocated, we still love our favorite country artists—Keep on keepin’ on.

*note: I am being highly sarcastic and exaggerating in this entire article, especially here.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Garth Brooks, Politics

4 Responses to Radical Rednecks

  1. Lottie Glazer

    Really really enjoyed this article. It is always interesting to know that in a genre known for its guns, religion, and ultra-conservatism that there are a few very well known artist that go against the grain. I was shocked to learn about Toby Kieth and Tim Mcgraw. I really like how you addressed this topic and am now curious to learn of other artist who may not share the conservative and traditional beliefs that people often associate with country music.

  2. Timothy Harakal

    First of all, I really enjoyed reading your article, especially your easy to read, hilarious, highly sarcastic style and tone. I am a big fan! And no – that was not highly sarcastic – I truly thought the way it was written was engaging. I also find it interesting that so many country stars, as you say, lean a different political direction than someone would expect, given a genre with (usually) overtly Republican-leaning themes. I also found it interesting how many of the stars you listed had such strong anti-gun or pro-gun-control opinions. Maybe it just surprises me because I’ve heard so many country songs about some dude with a shotgun or the rifle underneath the back seat in their pickup, but I must say, that is a little bit of an overgeneralization on my part.

  3. Mae

    Really enjoyed this article because I view country music as such a radical form of speech and how honest it is. I recently started loving Kacey Musgraves’ music because of her sound but most importantly her lyrics and how much she implements current themes into her work. The Dixie Chicks comment about George Bush really hurt their career unfortunately, because of the conservative-centered values hidden within country music.

  4. Paige Hinkle

    I enjoyed this article because I never knew that some of these artists, like Toby Keith in particular, considered themselves liberal. I know that many of these artist’s fans are conservative so their views aren’t widely known. It would be interesting to see how country music differed if more people were aware that these country artists are liberal. I’m sure after the Dixie Chicks scandal these artists are hesitant to make their views known since so much is at stake. However, like you mentioned in the article, they are not hiding their political views, but they are making subtle statements about topics like gun control and same-sex marriage.

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