Gender Roles as Articulated by Bluegrass Music

“In writing it, Ledford did a rare thing for her time: she made the free-wheeling, globe-trotting, banjo-playing protagonist a woman. If her man thinks he can persuade her to give it up and stick close to home, he might as well save his breath” – Jewly Hight

It would be difficult to discuss gender in Bluegrass without mentioning Bill Monroe and his patriarchal influence on the genre. Sally Ann Forrester is playing the accordion in this song, and she toured with the Bluegrass Boys for several years after WWII, recording with them in 1945.

Rhonda Vincent’s hyper-feminized performance of ‘Driving Nails In My Coffin’ – I highlighted this video to comment on its performativity, but upon closer analyzation, I found that the lyrics carried quite a bit of significance.

Ever since the day that we parted,
I’ve been so sad and so blue.
I’m always thinkin’ of you, love,
And I just can’t quit drinkin’ that old booze.
I’m just drivin’ nails in my coffin,
Ev’ry time I drink a bottle of booze.
I’m just drivin’ nails in my coffin:
Drivin’ those nails over you.

Michelle Shocked:

Uncle Earl is my favorite.

For reference:

Last, Della Mae is an all-female band that carries a forceful performative presence. ‘The Most’ is a song that shows a softer, more tender side (although there is still power behind it) that articulates an intimate relationship. Here, the women of Della Mae are controlling their sexual experience and how the audience hears it.

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