New Country For Old Men: Tyler Farr, “Redneck Crazy”

Published on August 22nd, 2014 in: Music, New Country For Old Men |

By Jeffery X Martin



I saw it. I saw it all.

While I was at work today, at a kiosk in a local mall, a man suddenly turned to the woman he was walking next to and punched her, closed-fist, in the face. The first strike sent her sprawling, her back colliding with a jewelry display case in the store across from me. She screamed, a high-pitched keening, a desperate prayer in tongues for the pummeling to stop.

It didn’t.

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I live in Knox County, TN. Figures in this story come from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations study of domestic violence statistics from the years 2010 – 2012.

You live somewhere, too. You can read the figures from your own town as easily as you can read about mine.

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STAT: Simple Assault was, by far, the most frequently reported offense (in the state of Tennessee) accounting for 69.2% of all domestic violence offenses, outnumbering all other offenses by more than 3 to 1.

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Gonna drive like hell through your neighborhood
Park this Silverado on your front lawn

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They always say you see things like that in slow-motion. It’s horribly true. The entire incident lasted less than ten seconds, but it felt stretched-out, like a scene from a bad science-fiction movie. She fell like she was being lowered by soft ropes, but the truth of the matter was harshly different. He kept punching her while she fell, a flurry of fast wild blows, like he was trying to slap a fire out on her face. Still the screaming, still the crying, still the inescapable sound of trust being shattered, the new bruises of a terrible milestone.

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Crank up a little Hank, sit on the hood and drink
I’m about to get my pissed off on

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STAT: Females (71.9%) were almost three times more likely to be victimized than males (28.1%) in domestic incidents in the state of Tennessee.

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I would love to tell you I ran over there and broke the scene. I want to tell you I pulled him off that woman, trapped his head between my knees, put his arms behind his own back and Pedigreed that son of a bitch through the floor. I wanted to be the hero, of course. But by the time I got up to run over there, someone had beaten me to it. “Hey, motherfucker!” yelled a young man, taller and thinner than I am. The attacker took off towards one of the anchor stores; the young man gave chase. Three or four people came to the aid of the woman, sitting on the floor, speech incoherent, shocked and forlorn. I was suddenly superfluous. Even the cops, when they finally showed up, didn’t want to talk to me. It’s all right, I suppose. Eyewitness accounts are known to be fallible.

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I’m gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn’t come here to start a fight, but I’m up for anything tonight
You know you broke the wrong heart, baby, and drove me redneck crazy

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STAT: Domestic violence resulted in 275 Murder/Non-negligent Homicides during the three-year study period.

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I’ve spread out three different threads here, Reader. It seems jumbled, I know. And it’s not my intention to tie them together as tightly as it seems. Sorry. If you want clear answers, you’re on the wrong planet.

The lyrics quoted in italics are from a song called “Redneck Crazy” by Tyler Farr. The song shot to number two on the Country charts earlier this year. The popularity of the tune cannot be denied, but the message of the song is questionable. Just reading the words, it is difficult to think of this song as anything but a glorification of stalking.

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STAT: In 2010, 2,519 orders of protection for victims of domestic violence were issued in Knox County.

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I’m mortified by my own behavior. I sicken me. I was on my way to doing something. I was just about to do something when someone else intervened. I’m not a participant in this story. I alone have escaped to tell thee, it seems.

Sure, the guy could have had a weapon. I could be in the hospital, or dead, leaving behind a grieving wife and children. I went home and slept in my own bed, clutching my wife a little closer than usual. Was I grateful to be in a relationship where physical violence has no place? You bet your ass I was. I am.

And still, I have to live with the fact that I watched a woman get beaten by a man who probably, at some point, told her he loved her. And I almost did something.

Almost doing something is doing nothing.

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STAT: In the United States, 76% of women who were murdered by an intimate partner had been stalked by that person.

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Did you think I’d wish you both the best? Endless love and happiness?
You know that’s just not the kind of man I am
I’m the kind that shows up at your house at 3 a.m.

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STAT: 54% of female victims nationwide reported stalking to the proper authorities before being killed by their stalkers.

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Let’s be clear.

I am in no way saying that a country song like “Redneck Crazy” is responsible for causing murders. I am not saying that listening to the song will instantly turn a person into a stalker who feels fully justified in his actions because forgiveness and self-control just ain’t his way. That’s as ridiculous as blaming Judas Priest for enticing teenagers to kill in the name of Satan.

What I am saying, though, is that the embrace of this song by the country consumer. . . well, it bothers me. It bothers me that we don’t think about what we’re saying when we sing along to the radio. It creeps me out that right now, somewhere, a couple is slow dancing to this song. Hell, it may be “their” song. It concerns me that on the bench seats of pick-ups and mini-vans and in the bedrooms of homes across the nation, seven-year-olds with no real filter, no experiential sense of right or wrong, know every word to this song.

Is it just me?

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The woman who got attacked actually pressed charges against the man. There were a few of us in the mall who were afraid she wouldn’t. He went to jail. She went home. I hope like hell she packed her shit and got the hell out. I hope she is somewhere getting the help she needs. I hope she’s on some kind of shadowy Underground Railroad for abused women, moving from house to house until she gets somewhere safe, truly safe, and can get her life together.

And I hope she never hears that goddamned song on the radio.

3 Responses to “New Country For Old Men: Tyler Farr, “Redneck Crazy””

  1. Cassie:
    August 22nd, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Wow, this is powerful. Thank you.

  2. Courtney:
    August 22nd, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    It’s not just you.

    Beyond being terrible in its own right, this song makes me incredibly angry whenever it comes on. And of course it still comes on, because we have to cut out naughty words like “ass” on our family friendly country station, but we’ll play a song that just screams domestic violence.

    This isn’t a breakup song. It isn’t a heartbreak song. In the context of this song, it doesn’t matter if she did him wrong. It doesn’t matter if she was sleeping with another guy while she was still (possibly…?) dating this guy. The actions he describes in this song and the attitude used to describe them… I don’t know how anyone could get anything else out of this song.

    Even the last line of the chorus / You drove me redneck crazy / is abusive language. YOU did this to me. YOU made me show up at your house at 3AM. YOU made me vandalize your home. YOU made me terrorize you.

    The line that always got me / I didn’t come here to start a fight / is just… it leaves me speechless. By definition, you came there to start a fight. That’s exactly what this song is about. You aren’t drowning your sorrows, you’re acting out with all the self-righteous entitlement your disgusting song conveys.

    There are lots of shitty country songs out there right now, but most of them are harmless. This one? I hate this one. Thank you for this review, and for exposing this song for what it is.

    I think, witnessing what you did, I would have been paralyzed as well. And I hate that. We’re raised in a society that tells us not to get involved. It’s someone else’s problem. Especially in the south, this is something that’s just understood to happen behind closed doors, when most police calls in rural areas are for domestic violence.

    That a song like this got popular in such a climate… it’s beyond my comprehension.

  3. Danny:
    October 20th, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Hey Jeff I’m glad to hear this perspective is still out there. They still play this on my local radio station and My 4year old was singing it the other day and he asked me why they were throwing beer cans… I was caught completely off guard.

    Have you seen what Aaron Lewis did with this song?

    This is another version as we’ll by some guy named Zach Woods:

    They’re worth a listen. I tried to send the Aaron lewis one to Bobby Bones but received no response.

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