Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 March 2014
The concepts of “place,” “space,” and “home” are integral to the study of country music, a genre conventionally associated with geographic regions, rural landscapes, and domestic values. Place-songs have emerged as an important way in which country musicians communicate life experiences and define elements of their identity, emphasizing the influence of family and community on their character, beliefs, and values. However, just as place can signify belonging, it can also represent a constricting environment from which artists struggle to escape. Such narratives enable us to see vital parts of regional identity that would otherwise be hidden, obscured, or overshadowed.
The Dixie Chicks’ song “Lubbock or Leave It” (2006) is an interesting case study for an inquiry into how artists struggle to define themselves within the country genre. The song spurred immediate uproar insofar as the lyrics portray lead singer Natalie Maines's hometown of Lubbock, Texas as small and narrow-minded. Many listeners and critics interpreted the song as a rejection of both Lubbock and country values. Drawing from the fields of cultural geography and musicology, this study examines how the Dixie Chicks draw on musical codes and conventions in an act of defiance and genre subversion, as they struggle with parochialism and conservative thinking.
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