Being country when country isn’t cool is something that all you readers can probably relate to in 2022, especially if you like jammin’ out to the old school country sound.
Fortunately, you’re not alone… in the 1980s, Barbara Mandrell belted out the same sentiment in her hit song, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”
Nicknamed the “Princess of Steel,” Barbara was more than proficient in playing multiple instruments, including the steel guitar, but her traditional country roots ran deep which became the main idea of this hit track.
In the song, Barbara recalls a number of her own traits that mark her as a true country pioneer, someone who dressed, looked and sang the part of country dominance even before country became “trendy” or “cool.”
George Jones was also featured on the chorus of the track, which included these lyrics:
I remember wearin’ straight-leg Levis
Flannel shirts even when they weren’t in style …
And I was listenin’ to the Opry
When all of my friends
Were diggin’ Rock ‘n Roll
And it seems like this song also served as Barbara finally getting the last word on some of the bullies who picked on her country preferences long ago, after watching them all jump on the country bandwagon years later:
I took a lot of kiddin’
‘Cause I never did fit in
Now look at everybody
Tryin’ to be what I was then
I was country when country wasn’t cool
In other words – she didn’t see anyone else around when she was reppin’ her country roots. Not until it became more popular…
It takes guts (even today) to be a female country artist stepping out of the box to show deep emotion, or even a notorious opinion. And in this regard, Barbara Mandrell really set the stage for the future women of country to not hold back.
So here is the pioneer herself, Ms. Barbara Mandrell, dressed to kill and singing like she means it on one of her 1995 Steppin’ Out Tour stops.
And if you’ve never seen it, this rare footage of Barbara and George Jones performing the hit together at the 15th Annual CMA Awards is pretty neat.
She also won Entertainer of the Year that year.