Thursday, October 27, 2011

Listening To Miranda Lambert

To me, country music is about real life, the good and the bad. That's why country started, and it was because of Hank Williams telling true stories. And I don't see why a woman can't tell the truth just as fast as a man can.
Today on NPR's Morning Edition, Renee Montagne spoke with country music superstar Miranda Lambert. As folks might expect from her music and songwriting, the conversation had a substance to it that's missing from so much contemporary music coming out of Nashville. Here's an excerpt from the transcription:
When she was growing up, Lambert's parents would occasionally open their home to women who were in abusive relationships. She often shared a room with a displaced mother, daughter, or both, and heard from them the devastating effects domestic abuse. "Half of the women take your advice, use your help and get out," she says. "Half of them can't leave and always go back."

Lambert pulled from their stories to write the song that helped put her on the map, 2007's "Gunpowder and Lead," in which she sings, "His fist is big but my gun's bigger / He'll find out when I pull the trigger."
Here's Ms. Lambert performing "Gunpowder and Lead" live on Austin City Limits:

One of Miranda Lambert's earliest successes was "Everybody Dies Famous In A Small Town." This song came to mind again as the Occupy movement began to percolate in rural America. While the witty verses and that infectious hook are in keeping with what one would expect from Nashville, these lyrics also speak to a truth about the kinds of knowledge folks have in rural areas - and the kind of open humility that could make for some positive, and non-partisan, problem-solving in such small towns. It's a perfect country-pop song for such an urban - rural critique.

UPDATE: Folks may also be interested in feminist responses to Miranda Lambert's music. In "Rifles and Rural Feminism," journalist and blogger Kate Noftsinger considers the rural - urban dynamics of the term, and how its sensibilities are marketed in music. There's a wide range of feminist responses to "Gunpowder and Lead" within the feminist community - and the subject deserves an Art of the Rural article all to itself. Please feel free to send along any responses you might have to the idea of "rural feminism" or its critique here.