OFFSTAGE: Kellie Pickler’s Take on Tammy Wynette

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

People always say country music tells stories. And it does. But Kellie Pickler is going way beyond the storytelling. What she is doing in the first track (“Where’s Tammy Wynette?”) on her new album is painting a very vivid picture. Three of them, actually. One of a woman in heels, a skirt, an apron, with a Camel cigarette in her mouth, frying chicken. Then one of a hussy in a cheap, tight dress with teased hair, trying to wreck a home. And finally, one of a man exiled to the couch because he was — as so many men are — torn between neon lights and home. And in every single picture, Pickler is pining for legendary country singer Tammy Wynette to help her cope. This is, in my opinion, the best song Pickler’s ever recorded. Maybe the best country song any woman has ever recorded in the last few years. It’s sassy, funny and drenched in steel guitar. But more than that, it’s a story of a would-be cheatin’ man whose woman is heartened by the haunting advice of a honky-tonk angel.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.