By Sydney Miller, Associate Editor
Greetings, dear reader! I hope you enjoyed the first installment of Queer Country Rewind, where I took a look at “Constant Craving” by k. d. lang.
This week, I’m going to be taking a deep dive into “Hold My Hand,” a song off Brandy Clark’s first record, 12 Stories. You may have heard the song already — or possibly the duet with Dwight Yoakam — but if you haven’t, let me give you a quick rundown.
The narrator and her current love are at a social event, where they run into her ex. The whole song is pretty much about that moment of the narrator seeing the ex and wishing her partner would reach out and hold her hand.
If you’re looking at the song through a heteronormative lens, it’s easy to write it off as a typical sad hetero country song (featuring Dwight Yoakam). But it’s more than that.
Just because Brandy Clark is a lesbian doesn’t automatically make the song sapphic. But it’s got a lot of other sapphic mojo working for it, too. First of all, Clark doesn’t specify that the person she’s with now is a man. The only time we get a hint of gender is when Clark sings “she could steal most any woman’s man.”
Second of all, there is entirely too much focus on how beautiful this woman is for this song to be completely straight. The song is like “Jolene” on steroids:
Raven is the color of her long curly hair
Red is the dress that she knows how to wear
Bluest eyes I’ve ever seen
Maybe just a touch of green
Clark released 12 Stories in 2013, the year “bro country” started to take over the radio. Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan were topping the charts. It was clear that country music as a whole wasn’t really ready for all of Clark’s staggering authenticity, but she didn’t let that stop her from writing a heartfelt and powerful ballad.
In fact, the song reminds me a lot of a scene in Happiest Season – the “lesbian Christmas movie” that Clark wrote a different song for – where Kristin Stewart’s character and her girlfriend run into her girlfriend’s ex (Aubrey Plaza.)
There is a special kind of vulnerability and softness in the moment where you can see Stewart’s character struggling with the raw beauty and femininity that Plaza emulates. She struggles with it in only a way that someone who understands how it feels to be drawn to a beautiful woman would understand.
That’s the vibe that I get from this song. It’s a recognition of this other woman’s beauty, but instead of pleading with the woman to stay away from her man, a la “Jolene,” she just wants her partner to “Let her know for sure / That I’m more than just a soft place to land” because “This would be a real good time / To hold my hand.”
Queer Country Rewind is a bi-weekly column that takes a fresh look at one iconic queer country song every installment.