Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen

Tammy Wynette by Jimmy McDonough

Videos by American Songwriter




[Rating: 2.5 stars]

If you were a guy who regularly referred to women as “dames,” considered Nashville utterly “bland,” the song “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” “cockamamie,” rhinestones “eyesores,” male-female country duets “hokey,” what would you want to do next? Jimmy McDonough, author of books on Russ Meyer and Neil Young, wanted to write a biography of Tammy Wynette. McDonough never arrives at a convincing, coherent take on his subject, empathetic or otherwise, or puts together how her life and art really related; some disturbing author mash notes to Wynette included in the book admit as much. He spends most of the book portraying the extraordinary vocalist as “a manipulative, game-playing hussy” and drama queen, less sinned against than sinning, then, turning to her longstanding, painful physical illness, and the drug addiction that was largely a result, suggests that the “hussy” was at heart a “tragic” surrendering doormat for ill-chosen men, doomed to a death spiral. She’s always wrong in this author’s hands—active or passive. Sometimes, apparently, it’s hard to be a woman ever after you’re dead.

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