Tag Archives: Karen and the Sorrows

The Outsider Insights of the Queer Country Quarterly

Karen and the Sorrows

Karen and the Sorrows by Carol Litwin.

“This is the song about pickup trucks and liking girls that country music has been waiting for,” Karen Pittelman announced on stage this past January. Pittelman was performing with her band, Karen & the Sorrows, as part of the Queer Country Quarterly, a regular concert series that features a variety of queer-identifying country and roots musicians that she’s both organized and hosted at the Branded Saloon in Brooklyn since 2011.

Pittelman was introducing “Take Me For a Ride,” a song on her band’s forthcoming album that she wrote as her own take on “bro country,” the brand of oft-derided, commercial country that has taken hold of mainstream country music over the past five years.

“Right now, the critique of ‘bro country’ is that it’s the same old ‘girl in the pickup truck, with the painted-on jeans,’” Pittelman says during a recent interview in Brooklyn. “I agree with that critique. It’s boring to have the same song over and over again. But we can also ask more of a genre, rather than just throwing it away.”

In a musical style where heterosexuality is assumed, and where flirtation, sex, and romance is often filtered through a male perspective (to wit: there is currently just a single female solo artist among the 10 most popular country songs in America), Pittelman’s song offers a rare moment of splendid subversion: “Don’t care what those folks say / ’Cause I don’t even have one doubt / Wanna kiss that pretty mouth / And then keep on kissin’ south / You’re still the girl I dream about.”

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