I LOVE country music. I think people who count out an entire genre of music are stupid; why would you discredit something you’ve never fully listened to? Country isn’t limited to the crap on mainstream radio, those silly songs about cutoffs and moonshine and tailgates.
Country music isn’t necessarily a female-driven genre; in fact, I’ve noticed very few female artists play on the big stations these days, save for caterwauling Carrie Underwood and her cohorts. Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves, you get a pass – more on you later.
In the long, storied history of country, there have been more than a few songs that hit a chord with the ladies, from artists like Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and the Dixie Chicks. I can’t really call them “girl power” anthems, because there are a few about getting your heart broken, but they’re classics (or soon-to-be classics) that resonate with chicks. Here are a few of my favorites; share yours in the comments!
1. “The Pill” by Loretta Lynn
Country can be a conservative genre, which meant Loretta’s song about birth control pushed more than a few buttons. Released in 1975, the single is about a woman who’s overjoyed not to be popping out a kid every single year. It didn’t get the same amount or radio play that her prior hits had, but it got Loretta plenty of attention. It also spread the word about birth control to more rural listeners, who might not have been able to access it before. Go Loretta!
2. “Wide Open Spaces” by the Dixie Chicks
You thought I was going to mention “Goodbye Earl,” but that song drives me nuts. Maybe I’ve heard it at karaoke too many times. Instead, I pick “Wide Open Spaces,” which tells the story of a girl going off to college and leaving her old life behind, ready to face something new. She knows it might not be easy, but she’s gotta go. I still cry every time her parents drive away.
3. “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter
For some reason, Deana Carter’s 1996 ballad touches a chord deep in some of the toughest chicks I know. Maybe it’s because it’s about the narrator losing her virginity and falling in puppy love with an older guy. But I think it’s because the girl in the song, now older, comes back to her the farm of her youth and discovers everything has changed; nothing was as simple as it was in her memory. All of us have felt that way about something, whether it’s a person or a place.
4. “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” by Tammy Wynette
Now, there might be some codependent issues afoot in this song; the woman singing wants to change so her bar-hopping husband will pay attention to her. But honestly, it sounds like she’s been considering doing it all along from the way she describes drinking whiskey, getting “painted up, powdered up” and dressing up fancy.
5. “Over You” by Miranda Lambert
Oh, Miranda. You ass-kicking, fire-starting hellraiser you. Miranda’s got plenty of “crazy ex-girlfriend” songs in her oeuvre; that’s even the title of one of her albums. But this song, written with her husband Blake Shelton about the loss of his brother, shows Miranda’s sweet, raw heart. It doesn’t matter if they’re dead or alive; if you’ve lost someone you love, you’ll identify with this song.
6. “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton
“Jolene” was an obvious choice, as was “I Will Always Love You,” but any career girl can easily place herself in “9 to 5,” especially when that job you’re killing yourself for seems less than perfect.
7. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” by Shania Twain
This video should get a mention for that hooded leopard jumpsuit alone. Hot damn, Shania! (Is she not the hottest chick alive? Definitely Top 10.) But it’s also a total comeback to all those cocky, douchey dudes who are always trying to get us to notice how awesome they think they are. Shania is not impressed. A chick as fabulous as she is needs more than a fancy car or a Brad Pitt lookalike.
8. “Picture to Burn” by Taylor Swift
So sue me, I included Taylor. Her first album is fairly country; the others, not so much. I do love this song, juvenile as it is, because sometimes you’re just so mad at some stupid boy who wronged you that all you want to do is call him names and act like a child. It’s totally fine. Listen to this in the privacy of your car and scream it out, girl. I don’t judge nobody.
9. “The Pain of Loving You” by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris
Have you ever really, really loved someone you knew was bad for you, someone who put you through all sorts of heartaches and made you jump through hoops, only to have it all blow up in your face in spite of how hard you tried to make it work? This is the song for you, girl. The harmonies produced by these three legends are so beautiful and heavenly they may just add to your heartbreak.
10. “Merry Go Round” by Kacey Musgraves
Kacey is a relatively new face on the country scene, but she’s going to be around a long time. I just know it. (FYI: She co-wrote Miranda’s “Mama’s Broken Heart.”) If you grew up in a small town, as I did, and watched your peers get married young, pop out a few kids and resign themselves to a predictable life where nobody’s all that happy, you’ll deeply understand what Kacey is getting at.