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Woman Walk the Line

(University of Texas Press)


How the women in country music changed our lives.


Edited by Holly Gleason

Genre: Cultural Essays

Reader Appeal: Teens; Mature Teens; Adults


My experiences with country music could fill a shot glass of whiskey. My granddad told me when I was just a child there were two kinds of music; country and western. I tried to tell him there was a third called heavy metal, but my black clothing, teased 80’s hair and purple eye shadow didn’t cause him to take me seriously. He put on the records every afternoon when he got home from work, and country voices twanged throughout the house. Headphones were my friend. But his words stuck with me. I loved my granddad, and he was pretty smart.

If most of us think back we can remember the first time a musical artist touched our very soul. When every lyric was written about us, for us. We would run out to the record store and buy the latest release. Magazines like Spin, Circus and Rolling Stone filled in life stories of these larger than life musicians. You could buy the posters or pull them from magazines and fill your wall with their image. Maybe you even wrote their lyrics on your peechee folder.

Woman Walk the line is more like a book of love letters than of just essays. Some of the authors are famous in their own right. Rosanne Cash writes about her step-mother June Carter Cash and Taylor Swift gets double treatment as a writer and a subject. Other authors are not name recognizable but their awards are. Pulitzer Prizes, Emmys and Grammys just to name a few.

There were names I knew like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Barbara Mandrell, names that brought back some top 40 hit memories from my childhood: Rita Coolidge and Linda Ronstadt. Some of these women made a name for themselves in other arenas like Hazel Dickens, who was a champion for coal miners. Some names that I had to find on YouTube and once I did I began to understand the emotions that poured out on the pages of this book. It didn’t matter if it was country music or even that it was all women. What mattered to me was that I wasn’t the only one who had felt that kinship with a singer. I wasn’t the only one who felt like a musician had changed my life.

Woman Walk the Line is one of those discussion books, sitting around with your friends remembering the singers, the songs, the times. I know I pulled my phone out multiple times as I was reading this book, Looking up old T.V show performances on Hee Haw. It also made me think of my granddad and that is always a good thing.


Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this book:


• Is there a particular musical artist that you were a fan of? Are you still a fan? Do you think we outgrow some music?

• What five songs would define your teen years? Your 20’s? Your 40’s? extra points for singing the songs out loud.

• Have you ever written a fan letter? Who was it to? Did you hear back? If you could write a fan letter to anyone who would write to?



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