Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson
A Book Written by a Celebrity
I’ve been wanting to read this for years. Years. My uncle has always said that was “my song” (never mind I don’t keep my Christmas lights up all year long, details, schmetails). So yeah, I sing loud & proud with her when I hear any of her tunes on the radio. I suppose as far as celebrities go, she is one that many people of my “culture”, if you will, can identify with.
I figured I’d enjoy the book, even if it didn’t have a huge impact on my life. I’m sorry to say that it was a struggle from beginning to end. And for me to say I struggled brings on some guilt…Gretchen really struggled in every aspect of her life. She was on the move constantly growing up- from Southern Illinois to Miami & back again so many times I lost count. From someone who attended the same school from kindergarten all the way through graduation, I simply couldn’t imagine that kind of instability. The only steadfast thing was her grandmother, who was so poor they ate possum three times a week. Her great dream involved poisoning her one legged alcoholic husband & taking her dog to a spa. It about broke my heart reading about all her trials! Gretchen followed right along with what was normal: dropping out of school at 15, working as a bartender, turned into a full blown alcoholic long before her 21st birthday.
It was all too much.
What could have been a heart wrenching drama was written in a language suitable for fifth graders (not the content, mind you) & about as colorful as cardboard. It was almost as if she was trying to squeeze in all the names of people who have given her any sort of encouragement over the years but unfortunately she didn’t include much in the way of specific details that would have brought the story to life. Interspersed throughout were lyrics to several of her songs–repeatedly. She needed a better ghostwriter & editor, both. She says herself, “The more of yourself you put in the music-warts and all-the greater the chance that the audience will take that music into their own hearts.” Well, the same goes for writing. The book lacked depth, heart, & soul, all of which I feel GW has in abundance.
Gretchen makes no apologies for what she is: a hardworkin’, good-time-havin’, ballad bawlin’, redneck woman. She loves her daughter unconditionally & music to her core. She is persistent & stubborn & hard. And it’s no wonder. It ain’t the years, it’s the miles. And the hours spent in a bar, most of them past the witching hour.
I wondered what she’s doing now, ten years after her two years of fame, but couldn’t find much. Hope she’s surrounded by 27’s & is at peace with her life. I hope she’s still writing songs. Because an author, she ain’t.
Amy Johnson, Guest Blogger in Residence 2016
Book #33 of 52