As Harkins demonstrates, the hillbilly is of interest because the figure has always been an ambiguous combination of admiral traits like freedom and independence with negative ones such as poverty and uncouthness, as this definition quoted from the New York Journal of 1900 illustrates: "a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammeled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off
his revolver as the fancy takes him." Later elaborations will develop both sides of this picture, connecting the hillbilly to pioneer roots and pre-modern authenticity on the one hand, and to laziness, profligate and deviant sexuality, and violence on the other.
Ray also distills ephemeral moments into memorable turns of phrase: Propelled by power-pop riffs that recall late '70s radio faves Cheap Trick, "Driver Education" fires off
quick sketches of crushes on suicidal classmates, pollen dust and Pixie Stix, and kisses that taste like Marlboros and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.