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Tyler Childers is unshaken in his allyship

YouTube – Tyler Childers

Just weeks after Jason Aldean’s controversial “Try That in a Small Town” music video made headlines, Tyler Childers released the video accompanying his new single, “In Your Love”. However, this release is gaining notoriety for its message of love in an industry where it is all too uncommon.

Tyler Childers has never been one to shy away from controversy. In 2020, the artist released a surprise bluegrass album that amalgamated in the song “Long Violent History”, a response to ongoing instances of police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s murders. On the track, Childers acknowledges that being “a white boy from Hickman”, he had never had to fear for his life. 

He sings,

It’s called me belligеrent, it’s took me for ignorant/ But it ain’t never once made me scared just to be/ Could you imagine just constantly worryin’/ Kickin’ and fightin’, beggin’ to breathe?”

With the release, Childers posted a 6-minute video on YouTube calling in listeners and urging them to support Black victims of police brutality. He specifically mentions “white rural listeners” to engage with and uplift Black voices. “We can stop being so taken aback by Black Lives Matter,” he said. “If we didn’t need to be reminded, there would be justice for Breonna Taylor, a Kentuckian like me, and countless others.”

Childers, with his undying advocacy and sense of justice, fits in more with the likes of Willie and Waylon than Dan & Shay. Not only does his roots-style harken back to the days of outlaw country, but he heavily defends his Appalachian heritage and blue-collar upbringing. Childers has been a pioneer of a country-folk revival, with artists like Zach Bryan, Sturgill Simpson, and Margo Price reveling in a popularity unfounded by their “bro-country” counterparts.

Like his outlaw heroes, Childers questions authority and wears his values on his sleeve. These values are on full display in his new music video for “In Your Love”, which depicts a gay couple living in 1950s Appalachia.

There isn’t anything shocking within the song’s lyrics (besides how utterly heart-wrenching they are), but it is the video that has sparked conversation across the internet. Kentucky Poet Laureate Silas House wrote the treatment for the video from an idea he had with his husband. Depicted is a romance between two male coal miners, and the tribulations they face together. 

“As a gay teenager who loved country music, I could have never imagined seeing myself in a video,” House told Rolling Stone. “That visibility matters.”

Perhaps more significant to the video’s plot is the fact that the couple lives in a rural area. The representation of rural people is important to Childers, having come from a rural area with a coal-mine father. His upbringing drives his music, both sonically (through the use of fiddles and banjo) and thematically.

“We wanted to tell as complex a story as we could in four minutes, not only about a gay couple but also about rural people,” House said. “We wanted to show their joy and their sorrow—all the things that make up a complex life. Too often, simplistic notions are pushed about both rural and LGBTQ people, so we did everything we could to make this story as rich and layered as possible.”

In a time when country musicians are layering racist dog-whistles into their music videos, the Childers/House collaboration is one of rich thought and spectacular storytelling capability. Many online have praised the video for its production, as well as the emotions it has drawn from its audience.

“Tyler Childers just out there being authentic Tyler Childers!”, said one user on X, formerly known as Twitter. “A passionate orator not afraid of reminding “polite” society that there should be room for everyone, be they from the hood, holler or somewhere in between – or, (clutches pearls) gay coal miners. I am here for it!”

The song has also recently trended on TikTok, with queer rural people using the song to celebrate their loved ones and relationships. 

The happiness that the track has brought listeners is the reason why Childers and House released the video. In an interview with NPR, House described their motivation: “[If] you look at the way rural, working class and poor people, Black people, gay people are portrayed, especially on TV, it focuses a lot on the despair and not enough on the joy. We wanted to have the joy in there. Because that’s what makes a full life, right?”

“In Your Love” is the first single off of Tyler Childers’ new album Rustin’ in the Rain, which will be released September 8.

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About the Contributor
Grace Doyle
Grace Doyle, Associate Producer: #THAT
Grace Doyle is a senior 3+1 film, television, and media arts major from Dedham, Massachusetts. She works as production assistant on campus and has interned with 7News WHDH-TV and Tuff Gong Worldwide. She is an Associate Producer on #THAT and has previously served as a Music and Television Beat Reporter for Q30TV.

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