by carl wilson

About Cheatin'


That's Gretchen Wilson, who, besides her excellent taste in surnames, has released some of the best singles of the year - most recently When I Think About Cheatin', which is the fiddlingest, weeping-steel-guitariest tune to hit the charts in some time, even in this traditionalist-swinging phase of the hardcore/softshell country cycle, yet with just the right flourishes to make it also very Nashvegas 2004. The song's got that true-blue bruised wisdom that you look to country for: "When I think about cheeeeatin'/ I just think about you leeeeavin'," runs the key line, a cause-and-effect calculation that gleams its eye at the temptation (erotically enough, in the verses) but is hip to the price. Yet in the bits of 21st-century-diva sculpture in her way of coming out of the high notes, it has the sumptuousness of country-pop, too, a balancing act that only seems easy when a rare somebody pulls it off.

All of you who needed Jack White's say-so to get into Loretta Lynn, here's where to look for a genuine update of Ms. Loretta's fighting spirit. It's not just Neko Case who can get the job done. (About Neko's new semi-live disc more later, perhaps; it doesn't benefit by being in the twilight zone between concert and studio, and it's a case of can sing the phone book, does sing the phone book, if you know what I mean.)

The old-fashionedness of the Gretchen song is stressed by the vid, which features Wilson beltin' from the stage of the Opry as the Ghosts of Oprys Past materialize around her. Country Music Television tells me it's based on an occasion when she and her husband snuck in and sang on the Opry stage while it was closed, though the fantasy's sweetly outdated since Wilson's now hit the stage there several times over not-for-pretend. Her success would have been hard to imagine a couple of years ago, when country was still on the supermodel-girl-power trip, but now think of it as Reason Number One Not To Hate the Red States. (Case in point: The idea of putting Gretchen up here chased away the temptation to put up the glowering visage of John Ashcroft, who Jon Stewart told me tonight is leaving the White House "to spend more time rounding up and questioning his family." Ding-dong, one witch is dead, no doubt to be replaced by wartier witches yet.)

Also on cheatin': Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I'm trying to break the habit of ranting about politics every time I try to talk about music, and a little abstention is good, the fundies tell me, for the soul, even if it's a lousy substitute for sex education. Oops, I did it again. (Also, I'll have pieces in both Friday's and Saturday's Globe and Mail, so I am working on work instead.) Political joke of the day comes for once not from the Daily Show but from Slavoj Zizek, whose new book Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle derives its title from an old kneeslapper of Dr. Freud's: Q: "Why was my kettle broken when returned it to me?" A: "I never borrowed your kettle. And it was fine when I gave it back to you. And it was already broken when I borrowed it." That's killing 'em in Fallujah this week.

Meanwhile, I've been gradually adding alternative reading to the Links page, so why not click up there and bounce around till I'm calm enough to post without the current sulfurous stink of righteousness?

News | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, November 10 at 01:42 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)



I agree, Gretchen Wilson has definitely upped the "country" quotient in Nashville. This tune is remarkably similar to Conway Twitty's version of 'She's Actin' Single, I'm Drinkin' Double.' And that's not a bad thing at all--keep it coming!

Posted by matt on November 12, 2004 10:47 AM



To hell with the red states, and to hell with Nashvegas. Wilson -- like Uncle Tupelo before her -- is from the Land of Obama. Credit where credit is due, not to the enemy.

Posted by Carl Z. on November 12, 2004 09:01 AM



She's no Neko Case, but Gretchen Wilson has put a little more 'country' back into country music like there should be(this is based on the couple of music videos I've seen of hers while channel surfing past CMT) ...and she sang a pretty good version of the "star spangled banner" during the MLB playoffs!

Posted by mike on November 11, 2004 09:17 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson