Why Tammy Wynette Matters

Univ. of Texas. May 2023. 184p. ISBN 9781477324646. $23.95. MUSIC
Easton’s new volume in this publisher’s “Music Matters” series explores the life of the often ridiculed and misunderstood country-music icon Tammy Wynette (1942–98). This biography examines her decades-long career, which included 20 number-one hits. Much has been reported about her five marriages, a decades-long addiction to painkillers, and the physical abusers in her life. Easton explores Wynette’s rise to country-music stardom, the mocking of her biggest hit, “Stand by Your Man,” and the work she did with the British electronic band the KLF later in her career. The latter introduced her to a new generation of fans. Easton argues that Wynette deserves more serious attention. Wynette’s portrayal of a country girl who kept her beautician’s license in case she ever needed it again, her never-substantiated kidnapping outside a Nashville mall, her relationship with George Jones, and her performances at fundraisers for segregationist George Wallace all add to the complexities of who she was as a person and musical artist. Like other entries in the series, Easton’s book incorporates the author’s relationship to Wynette’s music and vocal performances in a critical biography that focuses on the artist’s musical talents.
VERDICT Fans of Wynette and country music will be drawn to this reappraisal.
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