The Liberal Country Music Fan

Welcome to the Liberal Country Music Fan blog. Life sometimes gets a bit Blue for us country music fans on the Left. With any luck, this blog will provide a home and a voice to us Roosevelt-lovin' Rednecks. It'll be our "Big Blue Note".

Monday, April 24, 2006

Rascal Who?

Lest we forget how popular country music has become in the United States, country albums dominated this week’s Billboard 200 chart, which measures national record sales during the previous week. The two best-selling CDs in America last week were Rascal Flatts’ Me and My Gang and Toby Keith’s White Trash With Money, respectively. Tim McGraw’s Greatest Hits 2 was the seventh best-selling CD.

This week’s sale chart is not unique. Country albums regularly take over the Billboard 200. So why blog about it? I feel it is necessary to remind folks of the incredible popularity of country music, even though the genre may not be spoken about much in certain liberal stronghold areas. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mentioned Toby Keith, Alan Jackson or even Garth Brooks to my fellow liberals, only to get blank stares in return.

Not clued in to country music? Pick up a copy of one of the above CDs. Alternatively or additionally, The Liberal Country Music Fan will soon be debuting “country music primer“ iMixes at the iTunes Store to help city slicker liberals become redneck Roosevelt-lovers. Keep checking back at The Liberal Country Music Fan for more info!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Big & Rich To Perform at Darfur Rally

Giving a good name to country music, my boys Big & Rich (iTunes) are so far the only popular music entertainment scheduled to perform at the Rally to Stop Genocide in Washington, D.C on April 30. Big Kenny has explained his group’s advocacy for the Darfur issue in a letter on the MuzikMafia website:
President Bush has recognized this tragedy as "genocide", but it will take much more than words to end the violence and murder. Enough is enough and we must show all of our elected leaders that we believe that as the WORLD's most POWERFUL government, we CAN make a difference.
It’s nice to see Big & Rich step up and perform in an environment much more friendly to U2, R.E.M., etc. than Nashville country stars. Darfur is primarily an apolitical moral and human rights issue, making it perfect for the country music world. Help Big & Rich raise the profile of Darfur in country music by attending the rally and by writing to other country stars to suggest that they get on the Darfur bandwagon.

And Kenny, good for you for taking action on your “Love Everybody” slogan! I respect it even more now.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Wussifying "All Jacked Up"

To my non-country lovin’ “friends” and "family", I frequently describe Gretchen Wilson’s “All Jacked Up”, one of my favorite new tracks, as a song that warns against drunk driving in a humorous fashion, but without a tongue-in-cheek tone. In other words, I believe the song, co-written by small town-native Wilson (iTunes), to be an honest warning against the perils of DUI from a person for whom such warnings are not trite and obvious, and targeted toward a similar audience. It is not commonly understood by we urbanites, but drunk driving is still a way of life for many people in rural America. In many cases, the rural culture has not rejected the practice as definitively as urban culture. Taken in its rural context, when Wilson jokingly sings “Two foot later backed into the light pole / All the town folk got a good show” and “One thing I’ve learning when you get tore up / Don’t drive your car...”, she is not glorifying drunk driving. Rather, she is warning against something saddening in the manner that the blues legacy of country music demands: with a smiling face.

So why is this blog-worthy? I just saw the video for “All Jacked Up”, and, at the risk of sounding Limbaugh-esque, I was pissed. The political correctness of the urban culture interfered, and the video shows a sober person taking the keys from a drunken Gretchen and crashing the car into a light pole. Rather than having the effect of demonstrating the dramatic effects of DUI, the video just shows a minor car accident. Although depicting drunk driving may not be politically correct, whitewashing the important message of a song is definitely not morally correct. Which is more important?

In this case, I am in 100 percent agreement with liberal independent Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman’s aim to dewussify culture by catering less to political correctness. While in some cases political correctness can be an effective means for demonstrating sensitivity towards others, for Wilson’s video and similar situations, sensitivity comes at the expense of important social education.

The video is available for viewing at CMT and Yahoo! Music.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Toby Sweeps Away More Stereotypes

Country megastar Toby Keith gets characterized by the media in many different ways; he is labeled a Bush-lover, a jingoistic “Angry American”, an active Democrat, an immature thug, and a graceful writer of love songs. Using this list of often contradictory and frequently self-made descriptors as evidence, some writers have suggested that Toby finds an impish joy in creating stereotypes of himself in the media for the sole purpose of contradicting the stereotypes. Perhaps this tendency is what’s behind Toby’s latest endeavor: curling. That’s right, curling. The man who “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and his band have worked practice for the slow-moving winter sport into their touring schedule, with the eventual goal of competing in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Read more about Toby’s newfound fascination with pushing rocks around an ice rink here. While not strictly a political story, this does shed some light on one of country music’s most politically puzzling stars. Plus, it’s hilarious.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Faith, Tim, and Larry King

Tim McGraw (iTunes) and Faith Hill (iTunes) will do an interview with CNN's Larry King on April 21st. The interview will air at 9pm Eastern, 8pm Central.

The country power couple will be on Larry's show to promote their upcoming Soul2Soul Tour, but here's hoping lovable Larry will ask hard-hitting political questions that reveal more about the couple's left-leaning political opinions and their long-term ambitions in the Democratic party.

More info about the Democrats Tim and Faith and their political views:

http://liberalcountryfan.blogspot.com/2006/04/tim-and-faith-on-hurricane-katrina.html
http://liberalcountryfan.blogspot.com/2006/04/when-stars-go-blue.html

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Clear Channel Makes American South Inhospitable To New Country Bands and Songs

A very interesting Billboard article reveals a new trend in country music geography: thanks to Clear Channel and other conservative radio companies, the American South has become a bad place to market a new country band or country song!

According to the article, it is becoming increasingly difficult to “break new acts” or get airplay for a new single in the South. South-central states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas are apparently the worst for new country, while southeastern states including Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and North and South Carolina follow close behind.
"The [south-central United States], if you‘re not George Strait [iTunes], is absolutely the hardest place to start any record, whether it‘s an established act or a new artist," says Gator Michaels, senior VP of promotion at Warner Bros. Nashville, home of Faith Hill.
This trend away from new music in the south-central U.S. is apparently a recent one. The author of the article writes that in the early 1990s, the south-central U.S. was a panacea for new country acts.

Why the change? Billboard reports that many in the industry blame radio consolidation and “very conservative” radio managers, specifically those of airwaves behemoth Clear Channel.

Fortunately for the industry, the western United States has “quietly ramped up, becoming the most fertile ground” for new country music. The Northeast, surprisingly, has become record promoters’ second-best area.

What does this mean for country music politics? While it is exciting news that the West and Northeast are becoming important regions to the country music industry - there are many more liberals per capita in these regions than in the South - I worry that Clear Channel and others are increasingly segregating country music. The West and the Northeast will enjoy “new” country, while the South will only have access to “classic” country. Such a bifurcation in the genre could destroy the unifying effect of country music on a nation that definitely needs some unifying. Similarly, the left-leaning West and Northeast would lose part of the vital cultural communication channel to the South that is country music. If this channel begins degrading, this website would be increasingly preaching to the choir, one my greatest fears.

Country Music and Iran

One of the primary arguments against the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines famous statements in 2003 is that Maines should not have criticized the leader of our country while our country was at war. Proponents of this argument believe that the time for debate is before a war, and once the troops’ feet hit enemy soil, flag-waving is the only moral form of public expression.

I’m going to put my opinion of this argument aside for the purposes of discussion.... Discussion about Iran.

Even though a war with Iran is still an idea only mentioned through anonymous sources and rumor, I think it’s about time we start to have the national debate. The country must come down on the side of “war as only a complete last resort” before discussion is stifled by guilt and/or moral gusto about disagreeing with a cause for which our sons and daughters are dying. The debate would benefit from the opinions of Toby Keith (iTunes) and other troop favorites like Montgomery Gentry (iTunes) and Chely Wright (iTunes). I’d also like to know what these stars think about President Bush and his boys leading the way again. I suspect that Toby, and possibly others, aren’t too hot on the idea. I just wish they’d speak out before they can use the “I’m not going to criticize Bush while our boys and girls are on the ground” smokescreen.

For a country music star, it’s very easy to speak out in favor of a war because there is massive support among country fans for our troops. This incredible and heartwarming support is a quality unique to country music. Can we take this love of our troops a step further by launching a “war as only a complete last resort” campaign and keeping our sons and daughters out of harm’s way (unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary) in the first place?

My small addition to the Iran debate: North Korea and Pakistan already have nuclear weapons. North Korea has a leader even more crazy than Iran’s Ahmadinejad and Pakistan’s Musharraf is definitely no FDR (or Reagan). I find this helpful to remember when I get frightened about Ahmadinejad having a nuke to wave around when he is threatening the West and Israel. Also, we must remember that we can bring Iran’s leaders to their knees if we can bring down the price of non-renewable energy through green technologies and conservation. That would be a win-win situation if I’ve ever heard of one.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Take a Break From the Big Issues and Root For Big Kenny

Big “Love Everybody” Kenny (iTunes) of Big & Rich (iTunes), the closest thing in country music to a bleeding heart hippie, will be competing in NBC’s “Celebrity Cooking Showdown”. The NBC show, a week-long reality series, will pair celebrities with celebrity chefs in a nightly cook-off. The winner of each night’s competition will advance to a final round.

Big Kenny faces Tom Arnold and Miss USA on Day 1, which airs Monday, April 17th. Take a break from the big issues and root for Big Kenny.

It’s a slow news day, folks!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Mafia Throws Down For Darfur

Your digital good deed for the day: Help Big & Rich (iTunes), Gretchen Wilson (iTunes), Cowboy Troy (iTunes), and the rest of the Muzik Mafia “demand leadership” from President Bush for the victims of the Darfur genocide.

Visit the Mafia’s website for more info:
http://www.muzikmafia.com/news_more.php?news_id=28

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Political Donations in Country Music

Lists of who gave how much to whom are always quite revealing. This one, which covers donations since 1978, is no exception:

Toby Keith (iTunes) - $4,000 to Bush (Toby describes himself as a conservative democrat. I guess he isn’t kidding.)
Tim McGraw (iTunes) - $7,500 to the Democratic National Committee
Kenny Rogers (iTunes) - $1,000 to Democrat Birch E. Bayh, Jr.
Randy Travis (iTunes) - $1,245 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee
Hank Williams, Jr. (iTunes) - $5,750 to a variety of Republican and Democratic candidates and causes
Tammy Wynette (iTunes) - $2,900 to Republican candidates, mostly Fred Thompson (yes, the Law & Order guy)
Trisha Yearwood (iTunes) - $3,000 to various Democratic candidates
Dwight Yoakam (iTunes) - $200 to the Republican National Committee
Glen Campbell (iTunes)- $7,000 to J.D. Hayworth, $1,000 to a Democratic candidate
Kinky Friedman (iTunes) - $250 to the Travis County (Austin) Democratic Party
Lee Greenwood (iTunes) - $16,600 to Republicans, $1,250 to Democrats
Merle Haggard (iTunes) - $1,000 to Republican Eugune A. Chappie

Source: Newsmeat

Poll on Dixie Chicks Shows Split Opinions


In a new poll, Country Weekly is asking visitors to its website “Are you still mad at the Dixie Chicks?” As of this posting, 43.6 percent of respondents said that they were “never mad at them in the first place” and 48.0 percent said they are still mad at the Chicks (iTunes). The remaining 8.4 percent of respondents said they had forgiven and forgotten.

I don’t quite know if I am disappointed or excited by the results of this poll. I am comforted that 43.6 percent of Country Weekly readers never got pissed at the Chicks for expressing their negative opinions about Bush. However, I am disappointed that of the 50+ percent of readers that were mad, only 8.4 percent had moved on. I guess I hoped that they would have realized the pointlessness of their anger. I don’t agree with Sara Evans’ views, for example, but I am not furious at her for expressing them. That is her right! And I still like hearing her songs on the radio, dammit!

New Dixie Chicks Video

AOL Music has the video for the Chicks’ (iTunes) new single, “Not Ready to Make Nice”. It’s an impressive video with vivid imagery. My guess: the ladies’ increasingly black clothing represents them changing from pristine country bumpkins into real people with real opinions. Any other guesses on the symbolism in the video?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sara Evans: Conservative Extraordinare

I’ve had a not-so-secret crush on Sara Evans (iTunes) ever since I saw the video for “Perfect”. Sadly, that crush became a guilty one when I found out that Sara has been riding in the “Backseat of a [Campaign] Bus” for Republicans for a long time now. Below are examples of some of her more conservative moments:

1) She sang before Zell Miller’s and Dick Cheney’s speeches at the 2004 Republican National Convention.
2) Her husband ran for congress in Oregon in 2002 as a Republican. He advocated for lowering taxes, defending the second amendment, and fighting for pro-life causes. Ms. Evans was behind her husband 100 percent.
3) She said the following to CMT:
[My husband] and I are both conservatives. We’re Republicans. That tends to be a little more controversial in the entertainment industry. There are times when it’s kind of fun. I love him, and I’m so proud of him. I want to support him so much.
4) Sean Hannity said he and Sara Evans are “old friends”. He was even on her tour bus at one point.

Sara does have a list of localized good deeds to her name, even though she may be counteracting them with her misguided activities on the political scale. She is the ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association. She is also donating some of the proceeds from her new single “Coalmine” to a living needs and education fund for the families of the victims of the Sego mine disaster. Of course, her support of Bush and his weak-on-safety-requirements administration sort of contradicts this thoughtful donation...

One last note: Sara was voted GOP Babe-of-the-Week on JerseyGOP.com...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bruce Springsteen: Gone Country!


He’s gone country
Hear that twangy sound
He’s gone country
The Boss has come around
He’s gone country...
Ahhh, here he comes!

Country music and classic rock have always gone together like black cowboy hats and Tim McGraw. Widely respected liberal and classic rock hero Bruce Springsteen (iTunes) does his part to bolster this close relationship with his next album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. A collection of folk tunes associated with the great Pete Seeger (iTunes), the disc has more twang than some albums coming out of Nashville these days. Violins and banjos feature prominently in many of the songs, and an upright bass thumbs along to the tunes. The album can be better described as bluegrass country than as modern country, but it should appeal to most readers of this blog. The album is due out the last week of April.

Check out Amazon.com for a "music video" from the album.

New Feature: iTunes Links

As of today, The Liberal Country Music Fan will contain links to certain artists, songs and albums in the iTunes Music Store. We have been looking for a way to provide readers with a way to listen to the tracks and artists we mention, and iTunes seems to be the best option. In addition, The Liberal Country Music Fan will receive 5 percent of all purchases made after clicking on an iTunes link. We are hoping to move to a dedicated web address soon (liberalcountryfan.com anyone?), and the iTunes revenue should help us raise the much needed funds to make the new website happen!

Cowboy Troy Slams On The Gas With New Video

My man Cowboy Troy (iTunes) has put out a new video, available on CMT.com and Yahoo! Music. Whether you like his sound or you hate it (Tim McGraw [iTunes] and I like it), Cowboy Troy is a trailblazer of diversity in country, both musically and socially. Troy is indeed playing chicken with the Nashville train, and I for one am siding with the six-foot, multi-lingual, rapping black cowboy.

The video is for the song “My Last Yee Haw”, which is co-written by and features Big & Rich (iTunes).

Sunday, April 02, 2006

When The Stars Go Blue


Tim McGraw (iTunes) is a Democrat! And it’s old news! In the same Scarborough Country episode mentioned below, The Tennessean’s Peter Cooper says:
Tim McGraw has come out as a Democrat before. In fact, in last month’s Esquire magazine he talked about the fact that he would like to run for office some day as a Democrat, and he called President Clinton the greatest president that’s ever been.
In the Esquire article, Clinton says of Tim: “I think he's got it.” Here’s hoping Tim starts to use “it”.

We’re still learning over here at The Liberal Country Music Fan. Feel free to send us comments at any time using Brent’s e-mail.

Tim and Faith on Hurricane Katrina

A recent episode of Scarborough Country on MSNBC featured a segment on Tim McGraw (iTunes) and Faith Hill’s (iTunes) comments following their visit to Katrina-ravaged areas. Apparently, Faith (a “Mississippi Girl”) said:
“I fear for our country if we can’t handle our people during a natural disaster.”
Tim added:
“When you have people dying because they’re poor and black or poor and white, or because of whatever they are, if that’s a number on a political scale, then that is the most wrong thing. That erases everything that’s great about our country.”

Republican strategist Jack Burkman, a guest on the show, had some harsh words for Tim and Faith:
“I mean, if you look at those comments, and particularly Tim McGraw’s comments, they sound like somebody with a ninth grade education. I mean, he’s almost trying to play the race card, but he’s too inarticulate to even figure out what he wants to say. I mean, these two, I think, are too stupid to figure out that if they have any interest in a political career, the Christian conservative base could be a natural ally.”
I guess Republican strategists aren’t above making ‘stupid hillbilly’ accusations. I’m not surprised.

You can read the full Scarborough transcript here. The segment on Tim and Faith starts about two-thirds of the way through the show.

More Kinky Info

I would explain more about Kinky Friedman’s (iTunes) drive to be the first independent governor of Texas since Sam Houston...But Kinky just does it so damn well himself in this video. It’s educational, and hilarious.

For those of you at work (and without headphones), here’s the summary:

* He needs 45,000+ signatures to get on the ballot
* The signatures must come from people who did NOT vote in the Democratic or Republican gubernatorial primary
* Texans can only sign one independent candidate’s petition; Scott McClennan’s mom is also running as an independent.

Thoughts: What We All Have In Common

Given their close connections to Lynyrd Skynyrd, it’s no surprise that the brothers Van Zant (iTunes) are espousing the wonderfulness of George Bush and his Iraq plans. However, this is a good time to note that even though we honky tonk liberals agree with very few of the Van Zants’ political views, we do agree on at least one thing: “Help Somebody” if you can. I think we should always remind ourselves that although lefties and righties may frequently throw sand at each other, we have many of the same core views. For instance, helping somebody if we can. The Van Zants aren’t hateful, they just have different ways of helping people. For them, unwavering support for Bush is the best way to help the world. They’re wrong, but it is useful to remember that their intentions are probably very good.