Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Difference between Rednecks and Hillbillies.

Hillbillies and rednecks are often clumped into the same broad stereotype. Let me assure you that these are two absolutely disparate groups.

In large North American urban centers, where gentrification and unabashed materialism reign supreme, the blatant difference between these two sub-genres completely eludes the average yuppie or square. The look of disdain emanating from their Mercedes is unmistakably contemptuous.

Rockabilly is part hillbilly, part rock 'n' roll, so those of us of the greasy 'billy persuasion take offense to being lumped in with the garden variety redneck.

The glaring dissimilitude is obvious to me and my ilk, but not so much to squares and rednecks alike. We 'billies revel in the arcane. The music, the culture, banjo breakdowns, upright bass solos and krazy hot rods.

As I have raved about many times in the past, you just can't make them squares understand. Their endless questions about our pomps, choice of clothing and taste in music does not so much perplex them as threaten them. If you have noticed the previous sentence and my employment of the the grammatically incorrect "them squares", the "hillbilly-ness is never far from the surface...that one just slipped out.

I resigned myself long ago to not have to explain myself to every self-entitled yuppie, drunken cougar, hip-hop wannabe, slightly deranged hippies (are there any other kind?) or any other freak. Rockabilly is as rockabilly does, and for fuck sakes, stop trying to touch my hair.

I will attempt to explain a few differences between rednecks and hippies. The good folks reading this are probably already aware, so at the risk of preaching to choir, I will proceed. Maybe some of the aforementioned misfits will read this and possibly see the light.

1. Up and Down.

Rednecks seem to have a problem with scale and proportion. They seem to have a natural tendency to "jack things up". Out in the 'burbs round these parts ( and everywhere else I'm sure) there seems to be an unnatural tendency to increase the height of vehicles for no apparent good reason.

Unless you're Ted Nugent and want to go kill some critter in the bush for your dinner later that night, what would compel somebody to jack up a 4x4 pick up truck to astonishing heights? Maybe a misguided attempt to be manly and macho, but if you are riding a truck to the local UFC fight or monster truck rally, your truck doesn't need to be the size of an actual monster truck.

Some rednecks buy pick ups with diesel engines and proceed to install some oddball exhaust system that makes it really loud. The sound is  akin to a large bull having a disappointing bowel movement, and in no way sounds cool. That is part of the redneck's natural tendency to enjoy annoying regular folk. The latest trend of installing metal bull testicles on the back of the truck completes the picture, and at that point the redneck should probably have a bumper sticker saying "I'm a lout".

Other rednecks like Chevy Novas ( '74 Plymouth Duster in Quebec) and derive immense pleasure form the jacking the back way up. They like to display the really fat tires in the back and really skinny ones in the front and enjoy installing sway bars and painting them fluorescent colors. Bonus points for having a furry dashboard and maybe some pom-poms around the windshield.

Hillbillies know that everything is cooler when it's lower. The lower the better. Huge amounts of money and beer-fueled engineering go into installing four link suspensions, chopping tops, sectioning bodies and just making cars as low as they will go. Once this is completed, the properly tuned exhaust system on the vintage flathead will ensure that everything sounds real cool.

2. More altitude problems.

Design classics remain timeless. The Levi's 501 button fly design from the early fifties has remained virtually unchanged  to the present day. All self respecting 'billies will buy them 4 inches longer and cuff them ( see The Wild One with Marlon Brando).

Square are often perplexed by the cuffs, but it is a perfect match with Chuck Taylors or engineer boots. An aesthetic masterpiece and a study in proportion, not unlike the golden rectangle of the Ancient Greeks.

Enter the redneck Jeans. The affront to common sensibilities that are acid washed jeans are still prevalent to this day, incredibly enough. Usually worn with large sneakers, they scream " I like Van Halen". Other denim styles to numerous to mention and incomprehensible to me, abound.

One unifying feature however, is how high the waist is. If your jeans cover your belly button, then my clueless friend, you are a redneck.

This high-waisted trend will continue into their old age, as they they curse at neighborhood children in a cheap-booze induced rage, "You damn kids get offa my lawn!"

3. Yet more problems with scale.

I have always been perplexed at what would compel a barber to willingly give a bad haircut. Yet many are mindlessly able  to comply with convoluted and idiotic instructions from rednecks as to exactly what kind of haircut they want.

Hence the birth of the Mullet. A mullet is, apparently some kind of fish, so I can only assume that its inception arose form drunken fishing trip of some sort , where the beer was plentiful, the 4x4's were stuck in the mud and civilization was very far away. The head barbarian probably declared in a drunken haze," I know, business in the front and party in the back. Fuck yeah!"

Also known as the hockey haircut. there are even websites dedicated solely to mullets, and derogatory as these sites  may be, rednecks continue to doggedly pursue this hair-atrocity.

Many rednecks are trades people and I often wonder how many mullet-related industrial accidents happen each year.

'Billies, on the other hand, favor the US Marines ethic of  " High and tight". Practical,  timeless and fairly low maintenance, the billy can be assured of looking good well into old age. Nothing like 60 year old sporting a mullet can garner stares of disbelief and ridicule.

 4. Air Guitar.

I often ask myself why rednecks have a preponderance for playing air guitar. Given their lack of musical knowledge  acquired from endless hours of listening to classic rock stations rotating the same old 500  tired songs, it's pointless to even attempt an intelligent discussion .

It never fails, however. If you happen to be having a drink in some sterile,  forlorn sports bar and Lynyrd Skynyrd happens to come on to the compressed satellite radio driven sound system, there will be one redneck playing air guitar and five more dissonantly croaking in unison " Sweet Home Alabama".

Pretty sure none of them have been within five states of Alabama.

Hell, I even had to kick one sum'bitch off the stage as he drunkenly yelled in my ear as I was playing some rockabilly, (you know any Zeppelin, man?!) I mean that literally; I kicked that fool.

Not feeling superior by any means, I must admit that I have been known ( not in public, mind you) to play a little bit of air upright bass, air fiddle and one or two occasions, air cajun accordion.

That's about if for now, hillbilly kats 'n' kittens, I will probably have to make a foray deep into the 'burbs soon to do some more research. I'll probably have to wear a trucker hat and keep it low profile, just to avoid some bar fights with some unsuspecting rednecks. Anybody got a big-ass diesel pick-up I can borrow?


  1. What about the redneck women? The height proportion thing applies to their hair and the cowboy boots...

  2. Whaaa haaaa haaaa. Very good read! Thank you.

    As Miss Hillbilly Dumplin', I support this message.