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He Said She Said: Our Favorite Lady Country Singers

What's that joke about country music? That if you play it backwards, the singer gets his car back, he gets his wife back, and he gets his dog back? There's a particular narrative in country - men's country, at least - that lends itself to formulaic and often-times jingoistic sentiments that have never really appealed all that much to She Said.* Women, on the other hand, seem to write country music from a broader range of emotion and experience. With a genre as intensely emotional and sentimental as country often is, it makes perfect sense that women would excel at it. "Coat of Many Colors," Dolly Parton

She Said had to restrain herself from making this entire list about Dolly Parton. She just has so many hits, so many wonderful songs about a variety of stories. Many of Dolly's songs were later made famous by other artists . Her soprano voice belies the often dark content of her music. She Said has already written about her love for the song "Down From Dover" about a girl who gets pregnant out of wedlock and is abandoned by the man. On the same album, tellingly titled The Fairest of Them All , Dolly also has a song called "Daddy Come and Get Me,", about a girl who's been institutionalized by her father. These are definitely not fairy tales. "Drunken Angel," Lucinda Williams

Williams' couldn't-care-less off-key drawl single-handedly converted She Said into an alt-country fan. "Harper Valley PTA," Jeannie C. Riley

Okay, this song is gimmicky as hell but You sock it to those catty bitches, sister! "Can Make Me Cry," Concrete Blonde

Concrete Blonde isn't exactly a country band but this song has the feel of a lot of alt-county hits of the early '90s. Plus, Johnette Napolitano in her crazy outfit makes She Said long for the '90s. [Ed. Note: Johnette Napolitano in any outfit makes us crazy.] "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," Reba McEntire

She Said is a sucker for Faulknerian Southern Gothic. Also? Extremely dramatic music videos. She loooooooved this song as a kid growing up in Oklahoma (Reba!) but she had no idea what the hell is was about back then. Now it sounds overproduced as hell. But still awesome. And Reba's a master actress.

 

"How High the Moon," Mary Ford (with her husband, that one guy)

Perhaps the most influential couple in rock and roll. "Coal Miner's Daughter," Loretta Lynn

Feministe has an excellent breakdown of what this song means for women, but the gist of it is this: sometimes it doesn't matter how poor you are. "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt

Again, She Said's already professed her love for Ronstadt before , but She also adores Emmylou Harris, who's label wouldn't take her seriously until she assembled a band featuring (male) musicians who'd played with Elvis and Gram Parsons. "Ode to Billie Joe," Bobbie Gentry

Oh man. This video just literally made She Said cry. You can tell that Bobbie Gentry is just SO INTO IT. And it's one of the most enduring questions in music - what were the narrator and Billie Joe throwing off the bridge? Gentry was one of the first women in country music to write her own songs, and this one leaves plenty of other unanswered questions too, like: How awesome were the Smothers Brothers, right ? How do I get my hair to do that? and Doesn't it give you chills when her voice into the lower register at the end of the song? *However, tune in next week for some country songs by men that She Said does enjoy.


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