Queer Country

Univ. of Illinois. (Music in American Life). Mar. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780252044267. $110; pap. ISBN 9780252086335. $24.95. MUSIC
In this study of gay, trans, and nonbinary musicians working within and across the lines of country music, Goldin-Perschbacher (music studies, Boyer Coll. of Music and Dance, Temple Univ.) argues that whether a song is seen as part of the country genre is often just as much about who is playing it as the music itself, at least as far as industry sanction is concerned. Lil Nas X, a Black gay artist whose “Old Town Road” was removed from the Billboard chart listing despite its explosive popularity, is only one of many examples; others include well-known stars and tireless road warriors whose fanbases are obscured. Goldin-Perschbacher’s scholarly analysis is bolstered by ethnographic research, including numerous interviews. Her book begins with the early 1970s and Patrick Haggerty, whose collaborative Lavender Country is recognized as the first country album to treat gay sexuality openly. Unsurprisingly, notions of authenticity and sincerity come in for considerable discussion, as these concepts have been used to both include and exclude artists from communities of genre. This book makes an excellent companion to Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music, by Nadine Hubbs, with whom Golden-Perschbacher studied.
VERDICT An empathetic and illuminating study, sure to expand country playlists. For scholars interested in queer studies and fans of country music.
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