This dissertation explores the ways in which the thematic content and performance practices of country music have historically implied notions of protection and safety, while paradoxically enabling instances of violence on both individual and cultural levels. I specifically focus on the sociocultural effects of country music in the U.S. and beyond during the two decades since the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, employing the argument that both 9/11 and other major sociopolitical events of that period have resulted in a fundamental transformation of the ways in which “safe” individuals, communities, and even musical groupings are and have been represented and perceived. A survey of the history of country music yields numerous instances of both violence and safety encoded in the lyrical content of the music and the identity representations of country musicians and their fans. For decades, the protagonists of country music—whether the artists themselves or the characters they portray through their songs, sounds, imagery, and ideological stances—have occupied a peculiar and paradoxical space, straddling the line between the drifter and the provider while balancing images of safety and protection with rough living and aggression. Recent developments in U.S. politics, however, have raised significant questions regarding historically safe identities. An ongoing outbreak of mass shootings, a new cultural outspokenness regarding gender issues and sexual assault, growing tensions around matters of nationalism and race, and other political and cultural factors continue to change the nation’s idea of what is and is not safe, as well as what types and conditions of safety individuals should expect or deserve. Both country musicians and fans are now responding to a complex political era in which Americans (i.e., United States-ians) have had to look inward, confronting systems of violence spearheaded by their own citizens. The exponential rise in mass shootings—most frequently committed by white, American men—is just one example of how certain demographic groups, so often displayed as the “protectors” and “providers” in country music, are now, with increasing cultural intensity, being recognized as potential perpetrators of violent action. A central argument of this dissertation is that these changes reflect a particular upending of the “All-American Man” figure—not just within country music, but within American society—and a reconsideration of the fact that this figure, formerly recognized as a marker of protection and security, is now increasingly questioned as a potential perpetrator of violence. Discussions of safety, place, identity, gender, community, and popular music culture all play into this complicated conversation. How does country music respond to these changing dynamics of what constitutes safety (or lack thereof) in American society? To address this question, I begin by overviewing the identity systems created by a century of country music and its culture in the 20th century, noting specific identity formations relational to concepts of violence and safety. Following this, I zero in on the specific events and conditions related to these concepts of violence and safety during the first two decades of the 21st century, examining a tumultuous and transformational set of years within country music and its surrounding culture. Specifically, sociopolitical events such as the 9/11 terror attacks, the presidential elections in 2008 and 2016, and increased national awareness of issues such as gun violence, gender equality, and sexual assault provide a critical cultural context to changes in country music, including the rise of “bro country” and “arena country” in the early 21st century, an increasingly prevalent narrative of gender issues in country music lyrics, and a mobilization of identity themes relating both to the validation and questioning of traditionally powerful identity tropes.