Knuckling Up for Brantley Gilbert, and the Gay Community in the Redneck Side of Country

Brantley Gilbert does something I really like with his song ‘You Don’t Know Her Like I Do.’ He takes a common theme; the post-break up mourning, and puts a new spin on it.

Rather than focusing on the whiskey, the sadness, the first-person yearning over your lost love, Gilbert focuses on the friends that come around and give us their support and comfort when we don’t want to hear it or we aren’t ready for it. Gilbert perfectly captures these emotions in this tune. The rocking guitar only helps to add to its appeal. It pushes the emotions forward in a way that wouldn’t have the same impact if the instrumentals were more of what you would typically find in this kind of song. And rocking is really why I like Brantley Gilbert.

I have been struggling for weeks to figure out just how to review Brantley Gilbert. I really enjoy his music, I like that he brings rock to country and that his music has a little bit of a harder edge. But I questioned whether that edge might be too hard because of two songs.

The first would be ‘Kick it in the Sticks.’ The video for this ends with Gilbert getting into a fight with a preppy-type guy; presumably to defend the honor of a gal. I thought ‘Okay, getting into a fight over a woman, I can see that.’ The second was ‘Take it Outside,’ a tune that attracted me because I pretty much new from the title what it was going to be about; fighting in the parking lot:

…Where nobody’s gonna break it up/
Not until you’ve had enough/
And if you think you’ve got the guts/
Then, let’s take it outside/
Well, if you think your man enough/
You really wanna knuckle up/
If you wanna shed a little blood/
Then, let’s take it outside/
Let’s take it outside

After hearing this song, I thought do I really want to be pumping an artist that’s advocating fighting.

I love Gretchen Wilson; the Redneck Woman. And I especially love some of her throwdown songs, so, why would I have such a problem with Gilbert singing about something similar? It seemed that I was encountering my own gender prejudices. It’s okay for a woman to do it, but not a guy. But I still didn’t know just why Gilbert’s take on this theme made me uncomfortable. After ruminating on it a bit, I hit upon two answers.

The first is how far your take your fighting. Where I was raised, you fight until you or the other guy have had enough. It’s less about beating the ever-living tar out of someone and more about making a point. The point being that you could beat the ever-living tar out of someone. There is an awareness of how much you can take and, more importantly, how much the guy (or guys, as the case may be,) you are fighting can take. When you’ve had enough, you yield. You be man enough to let the other guy know he’s won. And sometimes you run away–really fast. When the other guy has had enough, you give him an opportunity to yield. You should be man enough to give him this opportunity. Sometimes guys don’t take it, but that does not mean that you keep beating on him until he does or goes into the hospital. You also be man enough to walk away from that situation. When you know a guy has had enough, you don’t give him more. You walk away, even if he continues to mouth off because deep down inside he knows he’s had enough, too. Does this make fighting justified or civilized? No. But like another song I know says, ‘Sometimes you got to kick a little –‘

The second answer is I’m part of the gay community. The gay community gets an unecissary ass kicking. The gay community is picked on and fought, literary, because they are seen as outsiders; because they are seen as less than. You need not to look to far into some of the comments of any countrified video to see this type of attitude come out.

So, why would I support an artist that brings this type of attitude out of folks?  Because it isn’t the artist themselves saying it. I understand the difference between what a fan says and what comes out of an artist’s mouth. And until Brantley Gilbert himself tells me he wants to take me outside because I’m a faggot, I’ll support him. And that goes for any other artists as well. The gay community has its bad fans, too.

I, also, feel being a fan of country music does something to raise the awareness of artists and fans. It makes them realize you do have fans out there who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, and they don’t always fit the stereotype of what you may think. We are your mudding, fishing, hunting buddies as much as we are your florists, hair stylists and interior designers. I’m sure it surprises a lot folks to learn the latter enjoy a good day out in the country and a lot of the former actually enjoy a good day in at the spa. By saying we’re here, we’re queer and we love country music, we’re doing something to challenge the perceptions that people have of our community. We’re making them re-think that perception. I have seen this happen personally. A few times, I’ve been at a concert where someone has said something about gays and I’ve turned to them and said hey, I’m one of those people you were just talking about. I’ve seen the stunned ‘oh’ as they take that in and the wheels of their mind going because they think that they’re in the presence of all heterosexual folks. Surprise, you’re not, and if you think that you are, you’re fooling yourself.

Country music sings about family, friends, working hard (sometimes working too hard), loyalty, and defending your honor. That’s all something with which gay folks can identify. Why wouldn’t we be fans.

Visit Brantley Gilbert website to learn more about him or check out the excellent video ‘Up Close’ below:

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1 Response to Knuckling Up for Brantley Gilbert, and the Gay Community in the Redneck Side of Country

  1. billy.elliott says:

    Great article… All the posturing from the heterosexuals seems to be waning. Or maybe it’s the fact we gays aren’t going to just bend over and take their crap… (well maybe if he’s cute) We stand up for ourselves more these days, which means we are more visible.
    And it’s a numbers game, right? They can’t all be on the s t r a i g h t and. . .

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