Category Archives: Say What?

WoCoWiC: Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert Over You

Women of Country on Women in Country: Miranda Lambert

On the voice of women on country radio:

“I don’t know what’s going on with all the other great female artists. I don’t know where the connection is off right now as far as the airplay….I champion the females. I’m a huge fan of female artists, and strong females in general. I’m proud of them, and I’m so thankful I’ve been able to follow in the footsteps of the ones before me, and I’m holding the door open for the ones that want to follow behind me. This is just one of those waves where females are struggling a little bit, but we’ll come back around and be a force to be reckoned with.”

Source: Billboard

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WoCoWiC: Trisha Yearwood

Trisha YearwoodWomen of Country on Women in Country: Trisha Yearwood

On the nineties:

“What I loved about being a woman in country music was there was something for everybody. There were a handful of us, probably 10 of us that were doing really, really well, but we were all a little bit different and I always thought it was easier.

People always said it’s so hard for a woman, but it’s easier because if you were a guy back in the 90’s you had two choices: You either wore the hat or you didn’t. So it was hard to distinguish yourself. As a woman it was easy because your image could be so completely whatever you wanted it to be. It was an awesome time to be a woman in the business.”

Source: Billboard

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Freakin' "Accidental Racist," Y'all

Accidentally Racist HandshakeIn case you spent yesterday outdoors and missed it, Brad Paisley released his eyebrow-raising new collaboration with rapper LL Cool J, “Accidental Racist,” and the Internet’s eyebrows shot up into outer space.

Summarizing this song and all it entails feels, frankly, beyond me. It has to be experienced firsthand. Listen to it

if you can find a clip that hasn’t been taken down, or download it on iTunes. But here are the lyrics:

To the man who waited on me
At the Starbucks down on Main
I hope you understand
When I put on that T-shirt
The only thing I meant to say
Is I’m a Skynyrd fan

The red flag on my chest is somehow like the elephant
In the corner of the South
And I just walked him right into the room

Just a proud rebel son
With an old can of worms
Looking like I’ve got a lot to learn
But from my point of view

I’m just a white man
Coming to you from the Southland
Trying to understand what it’s like not to be
I’m proud of where I’m from
But not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can rewrite history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still picking up the pieces
Walking over eggshells
Fighting over yesterday
And caught between Southern pride
And Southern blame

They called it Reconstruction
Fixed the buildings, dried some tears
We’re still sifting through the rubble
After 150 years
I’ll try to put myself in your shoes
And that’s a good place to begin
It ain’t like I can walk a mile
In someone else’s skin

‘Cause I’m just a white man
Living in the Southland
Just like you, I’m more than what you see
I’m proud of where I’m from
And not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can rewrite history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
And we’re still paying for the mistakes
Than a bunch of folks made
Long before we came
Caught somewhere between Southern pride
And Southern blame

[LL Cool J]
Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood
What the world is really like when you’re living in the hood
Just because my pants are saggin’ doesn’t mean I’m up to no good
You should try to get to know me, I really wish you would
Now my chains are gold, but I’m still misunderstood
I wasn’t there when Sherman’s March turned the South into firewood
I want you to get paid, but be a slave I never could
Feel like a newfangled Django dogging invisible white hoods
So when I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinking it’s not all good
I guess we’re both guilty of judging the cover, not the book
I’d love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air
But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn’t here

I’m just a white man
(If you don’t judge my do-rag)
Coming to you from the Southland
(I won’t judge your red flag)
Trying to understand what it’s like not to be
I’m proud of where I’m from
(If you forget my gold chains)
But not everything we’ve done
(I’ll forget the iron chains)
It ain’t like you and me can rewrite history
(Can’t rewrite history, baby)
Oh, Dixieland
(The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin’)
I hope you understand what this is all about
(Quite frankly, I’m a black Yankee, but I’ve been thinking about this lately)
I’m a son of the New South
(The past is the past, you feel me)
And I just want to make things right
(Let bygones be bygones)
Where all that’s left is Southern pride
(RIP Robert E. Lee, but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean)

Oof.

So, where to even begin reacting? The reading assignments have already piled up. There’s the Tennessean article by the reliably moderate, incisive Peter Cooper. There’s the quippy Twitter snark, dutifully logged at the snark-centric Witstream. There are no shortage of fiery deconstructions at sites like Jezebel. And because this is the Internet age, there’s already quite a bit of word from Paisley himself.

Of course, to longtime surveyors of country music, it may come as no surprise that Brad Paisley has released an objectionable song. Writers and readers at Country Universe, at least, have often found Paisley’s work to land with some accidental clunk, whether the subject is a woman he loves (who’s most charming when she’s screwing things up!), the music genre he records in (which could totally beat up your genre!), a societal trend he finds interesting (total losers impersonating successful guys like Brad Paisley on MySpace!), or even his entire gender (the acceptable members of which would never do something feminine like highlight their hair or, say, maintain a perfectly shaped goatee and flawless skin at all times and wear cute little modern-cowboy ensembles that hug all the right places). So really, perhaps “Accidental Racist” is just the next logical item in Paisley’s trunk o’ clunk – another sign that he just doesn’t quite see beyond his inherent privilege as a successful, talented, conventionally handsome, heterosexual, Christian, Southern white male.

But it’s also hard to throw the guy completely under the bus. He’s demonstrated that he’s at least more thematically ambitious than many of his country contemporaries, and I don’t think anyone would question his or LL’s good intent here. If nothing else, this incredibly clumsy, awkward track may inspire some productive discourse in communities that are, frankly, still hurting for it. The comparison of judging Confederate flags to judging do-rags may hurt your brain on every level, but hey, maybe we’ll wind up with fewer songs where baggy pants are used as shorthand for a life of crime?

What say you? Is there anything good to be gained from “Accidental Racist”? Is it not as bad as all that, or every bit as bad? Will LL Cool J host next year’s ACMs, or will he simply get two full performance slots? (And given that we’re wading in sensitive territory here, please do keep your remarks civil and in line with our Comment Policy.)

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Say What? – Hank Williams Jr.

Hank Williams Jr. has been making headlines this weekend.  Perhaps you’ve heard?

At an Iowa State Fair performance, he sang one of his latest songs, “We Don’t Apologize for America.”   He followed the performance with this statement:

“We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S., and we hate him.”

I don’t really care much what Hank Jr.’s politics are, and I don’t really care if he espouses his views from the stage. Obviously, the feelings of hate he projects on to the president and on this audience are a matter of opinion. I believe they are misguided and poorly supported opinions, at least regarding how the president feels about farming, the military, and the U.S., but they are opinions nonetheless.

In truth, his words are a fairly typical caricature of what a person on the left believes, made doubly unbelievable when describing a man who is actually the Commander in Chief of the military and has dedicated his life to public service. But I think only the most ideologically blinded person would believe otherwise anyway.

I want to talk about the factual error he makes in describing President Obama as a Muslim president, an oft-repeated lie that one must be completely misinformed and/or terminally naive to believe.  Still, it’s not the factual error that’s bothering me. It’s the othering that is deeply embedded in it.

Frankly, I am sick and tired of “Muslims” and “lovers of America” being treated as mutually exclusive groups.  It disgusts me to see the faith practiced by more than 2.5 million Americans as an epithet. I’m not even going to bother qualifying that statement by noting that there’s a good chance Hank Jr. has never met a Muslim person or is simply unaware about the actual tenets of

the religion and the  Americans who follow it.

I’m not going to bother because there is no excuse for being so ignorant. Not in the globalized world we live in. Not in the richly diverse country that we live in.  Not when we have so many thousands of years of recorded history where dividing a nation’s population into “us” vs. “them” has resulted in so many horrific acts of violence, genocide, and oppression.  Not when there are so many other marginalized groups that are dismissed, devalued, and degraded because they are “them” and not “us.”

From the Iowa State Fair stage on Friday night, Hank Williams Jr. made a blatant appeal to the most base and vile instinct that lurks in the darkest parts of us: “You are not like me.  You do not believe what I believe.  You are the enemy.”

I’m sure Hank  would be quick to profess his deep and unwavering love for America. How tragic that he has so much contempt and vitriol for millions of his fellow Americans.

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Say What? – Kip Moore

From Kip Moore’s Facebook page:

i leave for NY in a few hours. i’ve always heard how fast pace everything and everyone is up there, so i’m thinking i’m gonna find the person that seems to be in the biggest hurry, step rt in front of them and start walking as slow as my country ass can and every time they try to go around me, i’ll step in front of them and act as if i’m sight seeing. wonder how quick i’ll get the “F” bomb dropped on me.

Listen, Kip. I love your single and everything, but if you get trampled today, I have no sympathy.  People who come to my city with pre-emptive rudeness on the fallacious assumption that New Yorkers are the rude ones get no love.

I slow my pace down when I’m down south.  Pick yours up when you get here.

 

 

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Say What? Classic – Carlene Carter

From an interview with New Country in 1995:

It bugs me when I do something that I really think is great and they don’t acknowledge it at all. It’s kind of weird for me, but I don’t slit my wrists. What would kill me is if I did something that I didn’t believe in at all, that I hated, just because they said you’ll have a hit, and then it wasn’t a hit.  That, to me, would be death.

Thoughts?

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Say What? Classic – Charley Pride

Charley Pride, 1984:

Music is only a product, like anything else. You pick out what you feel your audience will like, and do it. At first, I recorded a lot of things I didn’t like. After I reached a point where I had some say-so about what I record, I try now to record what I like.

Thoughts?

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Say What? Classic – Marty Stuart

Marty Stuart, April 1994:

At the end of the day, when nobody’s looking and I’m just alone, my favorite thing to do is get my mandolin or acoustic guitar and sit in the corner with one light bulb hanging down in the dark and sing about sick people or dead people.

Thoughts?

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Say What? – Hillary Scott

From an interview with The Boston Globe, via Country California:

Country music has always been filled with artists who write their own songs. But I think in the ’80s and ’90s it went through a phase where everyone was recording songs written by other songwriters; which gives those songwriters great success and a way to provide for their families, but I think the fans also love to hear what the artist has to say from the artist’s mouth. And that’s, I think, one of the reasons why Taylor Swift has done such an amazing job and has been so successful, because she’s baring her heart to her fans and it’s so relatable.  – Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum

Where to begin? I’ll start with the fact that Scott is wrong on the merits. There were plenty of artists who wrote their own songs during the eighties and nineties, though the best ones had the good judgment to balance their best compositions with great songs written by others, rather than weaken an album by not recording outside material that’s superior to what they’ve written themselves.

I have more of an issue with the idea that today’s country artists have improved on what came before them with this supposedly new approach. I’m sorry, but today’s current crop of country stars are collectively less talented, less compelling, less interesting, and quite frankly, less capable with a pen, guitar, and microphone than even the B-list stars of the eighties and nineties.  There aren’t that many who can sing or write, let alone do both.

Study Taylor Swift for her marketing acumen. There’s a lesson to be learned there. But for all that is good and holy. please look to Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, and just about all of the other big eighties and nineties stars for how to produce good country music.   For Scott to think that her generation is actually improving the genre, she must either have remarkably bad taste in music, or a nineties record collection that runs no deeper than Linda Davis.

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Say What? Classic – Tim McGraw

Here’s what Tim McGraw told New Country Magazine after his third album, All I Want, was released to surprising critical acclaim in 1995:

If 10 albums from now, it’s not better than this one, I shouldn’t be making them.

That’s a lofty goal, isn’t it? I think that just about every McGraw album released since All I Want has been of higher quality, but I don’t know that I’d argue that each one was better than the last. But is that ever true about any artist?

The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Kathy Mattea.  I think that her recent run of Roses, Joy For Christmas Day, Right Out of Nowhere, and Coal have shown significant growth from one set to next.

Can you think of any artist with a decently long career that has consistently improved from album to album?

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