The meaning behind Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman” is one of pride, pride in who you are, where you came from, and how that informs you today. The rowdy tune sounded abrasive when it hit the airwaves in the early 2000s, but it was real and authentic, something Wilson felt was lacking in pop country at the time.
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With “Redneck Woman,” she wrote a song for the gals who had never had a song before, crafting a rallying cry that was less “Let’s go, girls” and more “Let me get a big ‘Hell yeah,’ ladies.”
Gretchen Wilson’s moment arrived just as her 2004 debut album, Here for the Party, did, and with it came “Redneck Woman,” a blistering country rock anthem about … well, take a guess.
The song was inspired by one country star, in particular. It wasn’t Charlie Daniels, Tanya Tucker, or Hank Williams Jr. who get name-dropped in the song. It was instead Faith Hill. Wilson was in a writing session with John Rich of the country duo Big & Rich when the sultry music video for Hill’s 1999 ballad, “Breathe,” came on.
“She’s gorgeous,” Wilson recalled saying of the video, telling Taste of Country the inspiration behind the tune. “She looks like a supermodel. She’s rolling around in satin sheets … I looked at John and said, ‘This is probably never gonna happen for me because I’ll never look like that, and I’ll never be that. That is just not the kind of woman I am.'”
He asked her, “Well, what kind of woman are you then?” She responded, saying she was a redneck woman. “What’s the matter with that?” was his reply.
“We, at that moment,” Wilson continued, “decided to be as authentic as we could about that kind of a woman, and I felt like it was a responsibility almost at that point to speak to those girls who felt like me.”
The song became an anthem to “redneck” women everywhere and wound up being the tune that put Wilson on the map. She attributes the song’s relatability as the reason for her success. “I think women —and maybe some men—they accepted me because I was a voice that was speaking to them about them,” the singer explained. “For a long time, I feel like in country music, women had gotten so slick and soft and pretty. So being authentic and being real, that is what got me to this dance.”
Watch Wilson discuss the song in an interview below.
The song comes to life in a rowdy, honky tonk-tinged arrangement as Wilson barks, Well, I ain’t never been the Barbie Doll type… In her defiant country croon, she sings about trading Champagne for beer in taverns and on tailgates, explaining that her “finer things” in life involve a brew and Skynyrd, Kid, and Strait.
Some people look down on me, she sings, But I don’t give a rip / I’ll stand barefooted in my own front yard / With a baby on my hip. And why? Because she’s a redneck woman, she proudly sings. I ain’t no high-class broad / I’m just a product of my raisin’ / I say “Hey, y’all” and “Yee-haw.”
She wears the label like a badge of honor. It doesn’t bother her if people don’t understand. She’s happy being who she is, rallying other redneck women like herself in the chorus.
So here’s to all my sisters
Out there keeping it country
Let me get a big “Hell yeah”
From the redneck girls like me
Hell yeah (Hell yeah!)
She doesn’t feel the need to spend a lot of money on frivolous things like Victoria’s Secret because she can buy the same damn thing / On a Walmart shelf half-price / And still look sexy / Just as sexy as those models on TV, which now seems like a call back to the Faith Hill video that first inspired the song. But either way, she doesn’t need designer tags, or champagne, to make herself feel like a queen.
You may think I’m trashy, she sings, A little too hardcore / But in my neck of the woods / I’m just the girl next door. Because she’s a redneck woman and that’s good enough for her. The song comes to a close with a few more rounds of the chorus and a peppering of hell yeahs from an audience full of fellow redneck women.
Photo by Ron Wolfson/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli