Is country music for real? This question haunts country's detractors, critics, fans and analysts, as it haunts all students of popular culture. Country music is only an extreme example of the instability, contradiction and ironic reflexivity characteristic of popular cultural forms in general in postmodern, capitalist society. It seems impossible to locate an ‘authentic’ country music text, performance or context, one which represents the ‘real’ life of a ‘real’ community without alienated nostalgia, false consciousness or kitschy commodification. On the other hand, country remains more overtly loyal to the experience, desires and language of a particular class and culture than almost any other major popular musical genre. A unique, if elusive core of ‘authenticity’ tantalises country's supporters and infuriates its critics, but attempts to separate the true from the false in country music, whether at the level of text, context or performance, are bound to fail. Country resists all such attempts; it incorporates and combines the true and the false into a poetic which is explicitly deconstructive of the ideology which these categories encode.