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Gretchen Wilson, ‘Work Hard, Play Harder’ — Story Behind the Lyrics

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Gretchen Wilson sits down with The Boot to talk about ‘Work Hard, Play Harder,’ which she co-wrote with John Rich and Vicky McGehee for her latest album, ‘I Got Your Country Right Here.’

It’s important to have writing partners who you’re comfortable with and who you can say something stupid in front of. When you’re writing, you can say a lot of stupid things! But you have to be uninhibited. We get together and write either at one of John’s places — he has a little bar in [Nashville] — or at my house. We’ll sit on the front porch.

This song all started with the tapping of a foot and John playing a riff on the acoustic [guitar]. We just started talking about what we feel makes a good American, a good role model. Then we started throwing ideas around. We all agreed we are in a funk in this country and we don’t know if we, as a country, are a bad parent or what has happened. We have lost that good feeling that comes from working hard and feeling proud that you earned something.

My grandpa was a veteran of World War II (as was John’s, who received six Purple Hearts). The way we see the world has to do with the memories of the way our grandparents lived. Then we all started thinking about the future and what we can do to ensure children have a better life. When we were young we were taught how to work hard for a living and survive. Today kids look for someone to just bail them out. We as a country right now don’t let them drive until they’re 16, they can’t vote until they’re 18, and it’s no alcohol until they’re 21. Those are laws. But kids can have babies when they’re 12. What kind of parents are they going to be? You don’t want to get mad at a kid because something made him feel he deserved it. That’s what needs to change.

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