The scorned narrator of “Redneck Crazy” has a problem that’s common in country music: His girlfriend is cheating on him. What’s a guy to do?
According to the disturbing song by newcomer Tyler Farr, the answer is to skulk in the night, park on the lawn of his now-ex’s house, hurl aluminum cans at her window, vaguely threaten violence and generally behave like a grade-A stalker creep.
The controversial tune, in which quite a few laws are broken over the first two verses, has caused quite a commotion with listeners this year, although not in the way you might imagine: People love it. “Redneck Crazy” recently spent time in the No. 1 spot on country radio, while Farr’s album of the same name debuted last week at No. 5 on the Billboard albums chart.
So a song that has an appalling theme didn’t just make it into the mainstream but has thrived. That isn’t shocking. Some might say the tune simply continues in a century-plus-old narrative tradition dating back to folk and the blues and through every musical genre since. Even though scores have come before, this one feels especially gratuitous. An easy defense is that it’s “just a song.” Plus, it’s catchy — what’s the problem?
There are a few. On the track, Farr’s character doesn’t waste any time, narrating his plan of action after learning he’s been betrayed. “Gonna drive like hell through your neighborhood, park this Silverado on your front lawn,” Farr warns in the first verse with his gruff vocals. “Crank up a little Hank, sit on the hood and drink; I’m about to get my pissed off on.”
(Apparently, the phrase “pissed off” went too far for local country stations, and it’s swapped out with the word “redneck” on air. Glad we’re setting some boundaries.)
“I’m gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows, throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows,” Farr sings. “I didn’t come here to start a fight, but I’m up for anything tonight.”
As if the step-by-step guide to stalking isn’t scary enough, what really drives the point home is the final line of the chorus, which gives the song its name: “You know you broke the wrong heart, baby, and drove me redneck crazy,” he concludes.
This line is the most chilling aspect of the already creepy song, with its ominous sentiment that blames the victim. Essentially, it’s saying that his emotional issues aren’t the problem here — if she hadn’t behaved badly, he wouldn’t have had to fly off the handle.
Farr’s protagonist is presented as the heartbroken hero: “He can’t amount to much, by the look of that little truck,” he mocks of the new man. The song’s music video depicts the events as one big joke, showing Farr and his buddies attacking his ex’s house with toilet paper, while the unfaithful girlfriend’s partner cowers in the doorway.
Despite the song’s popularity, not everyone is thrilled. (“Tyler Farr’s activities ain’t redneck crazy. He’s just plain nuts and borderline criminal,” one person wrote online. Another fumed: “The fact that a song encouraging stalking was ever allowed to be played on the radio — let alone be a hit track in 2013 blows my mind.”)
However, critics are quickly drowned out by the pro-“Redneck Crazy” crowd, such as those who think it’s funny or cute or even romantic that a guy would care so much that he’s willing to physically fight for a girl. Others think it’s a double standard to be upset after the success of previous country revenge songs, such the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl,” about a wife poisoning her abusive husband, or Carrie Underwood mauling a car with a baseball bat in “Before He Cheats.” (Which, interestingly, was penned by two out of the three “Redneck Crazy” songwriters, Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins.)
It’s worth pointing out, though, that “Redneck Crazy” is written from a man’s perspective. Statistically, women are much more likely to be the target of stalking threats than men. And it’s just unsettling when a song ends with such a foreboding message:
“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.”
Not every hit song needs to be a shining example of good behavior. But Farr, and the rest of us, can definitely do better — or just less creepy — than “Redneck Crazy.”