Gretchen Wilson Says Radio Didn’t Want To Play ‘Redneck Woman’ Because She Was A Woman Saying “Hell Yeah”

Gretchen Wilson
Gretchen Wilson

Oh hell no…

It’s been 20 years since Gretchen Wilson released her debut single “Redneck Woman,” but since then the song has become an anthem for country girls everywhere and a classic that’s still in heavy rotation today.

But according to Wilson, it was a struggle to get it there.

Wilson recently sat down with Billboard to discuss her biggest hit. And she revealed what inspired the song in the first place:

“I remember sitting down and saying, ‘I can’t really relate to what I’m seeing on CMT, GAC, all the popular music video channels, and this is not real life.'”

So Wilson decided to try to come up with something that more accurately described her, and with the help of John Rich, came up with the redneck anthem:

“That’s kind of the mindset we had that day. It was like, ‘If I’m not that, then what am I?’ And the best thing I could come up with was, ‘I’m just a regular ole redneck woman.'”

Of course the song was different than what was being released at the time. Wilson specifically mentions Faith Hill’s “Breathe” as seeming unrealistic to her. And at the time, other female artists were releasing songs like “Forever and For Always,” which was a hit for Shania Twain, or LeAnn Rimes’ “I Need You.”

So “Redneck Woman” was a total change of pace for what was already on country radio. And Wilson admits that they didn’t want to play it at first:

“I felt validated, but mostly with the fans, because radio put up quite a fight. Radio was like, ‘Who is this white trash hillbilly chick coming at us with 13 cuss words in the first song?’”

But that concern, she said, highlighted the difference in how radio treated women versus how they treated me, and she pointed to another popular song at the time when they took issue with her cursing in “Redneck Woman.”

“My argument at the time — and I had a valid argument, even though it was 20 years ago, before a lot of feminine movements had happened — my argument was, ‘I’m on the same record label as Montgomery Gentry, who just had a hit with ‘Hell Yeah.’

So, is this just because I’m a female and I can’t say ‘Hell Yeah’ in my song?”

Well her argument clearly worked, although she said the fans had a lot to do with it too:

“That kind of got ‘em, and they shut up real quick about that. But it was really the fans who called their local radio stations. They called and basically said ‘You will play this song or I’ll be switching to the other guy’s station.’”

Whatever the reason, “Redneck Woman” went on to become a massive hit, spending five weeks at the top of the charts and becoming Wilson’s most enduring hit of her career.

I mean, go to any karaoke bar in Nashville and just count how many bachelorette parties you see singing this one…

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock