Gretchen Wilson Is More Mature, But Still Ready to Get ‘Rowdy’
Gretchen Wilson’s phone keeps buzzing during an interview with Taste of Country. The “Redneck Woman” singer is back in demand since announcing the end of her two-year hiatus, so that means more media, more meetings and definitely more phone calls.
Known best for her southern rock-driven country hits “Here for the Party” and her signature "Redneck Woman," Wilson re-entered the music scene with her late 2016 single, “Rowdy.” A near homage to her two smash singles, “Rowdy” even references the tracks in the second verse: “I'm a whole lotta crazy / A little bit naughty / This redneck woman's always here for the party.”
Wilson explains the inspiration for her latest anthem.
“I was at home either mowing or weed eating, something in the backyard, just trying to think of a song title that I could hit hard with,” Wilson says. “I knew I needed the first single to be reminiscent of what fans liked and remembered about me and hopefully still want to hear. I’d been writing for quite a while, but I hadn’t gotten that feeling out of a song yet and the words ‘ready to get rowdy’ just kept going through my head. … Finally, I thought to myself, why are you coming back? What do you really want to say? So I had to answer that question and it was like, because I’m ready! I’ve been off for a few years, I’ve done what I needed to do at home and it’s time. I’m ready to get rowdy.”
Wilson then rushed into her house, picked up her acoustic guitar and started jamming a four-on-the-floor riff congruent to her former hits. She later brought the song to a writing session with pals Shane Minor and Trent Tomlinson, and by the end of that day, “Rowdy” was written and ready.
Buzz, buzz. There goes that phone again.
With another song like “Rowdy,” you might think all Wilson does is hang out in bars, slam shots and raise hell every chance she gets. And though she has plenty of those stories, she’s more three-dimensional than her persona portrays. One of the reasons is her 16-year-old daughter, Grace, who Wilson says not only changed, but also saved her life.
“I took a few years off, mainly because I’m a single mom and my daughter was at that critical teenage place in a girl’s life where I needed to be less Gretchen Wilson and more Grace’s mom,” Wilson says. “It’s the job I was appointed first and I think it’s the most important job that any person has, is to raise our children. … I had a really tough childhood and just about as tough if not tougher 20s, so I think it’s safe to say she saved my life. Every moment of my life since the minute she’s come into my world has been for her. She’s made me a better person. She was a total game changer.”
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Besides being a mom, Wilson also runs her own independent record label, Redneck Records, where she is the artist, writer, manager and even the accountant. You can’t be hungover doing all that.
She also describes herself as a homebody who enjoys a nice glass of Chianti — which is very different from the hardcore beer swiller the singer portrays in her biggest hit songs. Wilson insists that softer side has been present in her records. It just wasn’t the focus.
“I’ve had a lot of success with just straight-up rock songs, but [the new album] is typical of what I’ve always done,” Wilson says. “I have these three sides of me and even all the way back to that first album [2004’s Here for the Party], there’s a rocking rowdy side, a traditional country side and an almost Jackson Browne, Eagles, middle of the road side of me. It’s very much like the first album was with ‘Here for the Party’ mixed in with songs like ‘Chariot’ and ‘When I Think About Cheatin’.’ This record is another good mixture of all of that.”
Buzz, buzz. Who's calling this time?
Wilson notes the new album is 75 percent finished, will have approximately 12 songs and will be released before summer in time for a national tour. The working album title is Ready to Get Rowdy and the tour dates are being processed.
“This tour is not going to be an evening with [Gretchen Wilson],” Wilson assures. “It’s more like a Skynyrd concert; on your feet, partying, drinking beer and raising hell for the next 60 to 90 minutes.”
At the end of the interview, Wilson apologizes for her buzzing phone. Turns out it was her old friend John Rich, wanting her to hop on a plane and party with him and the crew in Las Vegas. But Wilson smiles and says she’ll decline. “Can’t, gotta watch my dogs.”
Sorry, John, Gretchen can’t be the voice in “Here for the Party” today. She has to be the mom/artist/writer/manager/accountant instead.
Gretchen Wilson Got "Rowdy" and Hurt Her Arm