“Daddy Won’t Sell the Farm,” by rawhide traditionalists Montgomery Gentry—one of whom is the brother of c&w softie John Michael Montgomery—is rilly a lovely vision of how Papa bought this farm back in 1968 and won’t sell to the big concerns, so he struggles on with his rustic lifestyle in the shadow of minimalls and burger joints. It nestles comfortably in the tradition of Small Farmer vs. Big Corporation songs, and the larger tale of the Indomitable Rube vs. Evil Modernization/Urbanization—it even quotes Hank Jr.’s “A Country Boy Can Survive,” the genre’s demented flag-bearer.
And yet, how bizarre. This isn’t one of those “We been here since the Civil War and we were born rebels” tales. Cuz daddy “worked and slaved” for the man, till he had enough to leave the system and cop some rustic peace in the very year that students and workers were tearing up paving stones from Paris to Iowa.
There are no coincidences in country music (check that cloying chain-of-life song about a guy who stops to change some lady’s flat). Daddy is the first country hero as far as I know who’s an openly political hippie. Cuz you just don’t choose ’68 when writing this song unless the guy’s part of the Back to the Land movement. Pop’s a folk hero alright, but not a hero for the Dukes of Hazzard so much as the Woodstock nation. This is akin to a hip-hop song making common cause with cops. Except cops actually are dirty and antisocial.