Rednecks & Bluenecks

The Politics of Country Music

An up-close-and-personal take on country music’s vast political discord, hailed by The Economist as “excellent”

“Fast, fun and skillfully reported, Rednecks and Bluenecks jumps into the breach of the political battle that fuels America’s musical heartland. . . . Leave it to Willman to bring all the dissonant voices together into one essential account of that red (and blue) hot spot where love of country and love of music meet.” —Cameron Crowe

Now in paperback, the nationally acclaimed Rednecks and Bluenecks is veteran Entertainment Weekly journalist Chris Willman’s lively account of “how music makes strange political bedfellows and how artists’ perceived politics change over time” (Booklist). How did the erstwhile music of the rural working class come to be the music of choice of the GOP? Rednecks and Bluenecks looks at the way country’s increasing popularity and conservative drift parallel the transformation of the Democratic South into the heart of the Republican mainstream.

Written in a “breezy, irreverent style” (Publishers Weekly), Rednecks and Bluenecks “explore[s] the left- or right-wing leanings of his subjects, from heavyweights like the Dixie Chicks, Toby Keith, Steve Earle, Brooks & Dunn, and Clint Black to newer, minor artists like the Drive-By Truckers.” Interviewing “nearly everyone who’s anyone in country music, from Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn to current superstars like Ronnie Dunn” (In These Times), Willman makes clear that country is a place where a passionate American political debate is taking place.


“One of the year’s 10 best. . . . The best music book I read this year.”
Fresh Air
“Four stars. . . . Sharp yet dishy.”
Mother Jones
“The illuminating writing is as clear and joy-inducing as Allegheny Mountains moonshine.”
The Los Angeles Times
“Fascinating and funny.”
San Francisco Chronicle
The American Spectator

Goodreads Reviews