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".

Friday, May 26, 2006

More on Reba McEntire v. the Dixie Chicks

Country Weekly is reporting that Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards host and country megastar Reba McEntire was initially “hesistant” about saying the now semi-infamous Dixie Chicks insult during Tuesday’s awards show. However, according to the magazine, after Reba got the impression that the Chicks had disparaged her in their Time interview, she decided to go ahead with the cheap shot.

In my initial article on Reba’s pitiful dig at the Chicks, I purposely neglected to include discussion of the aforementioned Time quote from Dixie Chick Marty Maguire. To me, the quote seemed to be not about Reba herself, but instead about the aristitic restrictions of maintaining a very broad pop country fan base. Examine the quote for yourself:
“I’d rather have a smaller following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith” - Dixie Chick Martie Maguire
As one of the only country artists to have outsold the Chicks, Reba must be aware that there is a tenuous middle ground one generally must occupy to sell CDs in pop country. She must also know that one of the reasons she has been chosen to host the ACM Awards eight times now is that she does so dutifully trade artistic freedom for popularity. While I have nothing against making this trade - it’s hard to provide enjoyment to others or express yourself when there is no one to hear your music - I’d expect her at least recognize the ambiguity of the quote and, gasp!, talk to the Dixie Chicks about what they meant before insulting them on CBS’ primetime broadcast. Perhaps Reba was misguided by Maguire’s use of Toby Keith - the Chicks’ former arch-nemesis - as the other pop country example, but in a way, Maguire’s doing so even made her point even better. The chart below shows why:

It’s not difficult understand that the Dixie Chicks would be willing to give up the middle segment of the diagram if it means being able to explore better their own type of music, especially given the events of 2003. With this Venn Diagram in mind, its easy to see that the quote seems much more like a standard opprobrium of popular music from an artistically inclined individual than a vicious attack at a certain low-voiced Oklahoman country star with her own clothing line.

But even if the Dixie Chicks DID meant to insult Reba directly (which, as you can tell, I highly doubt), I still disagree strongly with McEntire’s decision to turn her awards show pedestal into a pulpit for making pitifully snide remarks about the Chicks. When Dixie Chick Natalie Maines made her now super-infamous comments to a London audience, she was speaking for no one else but herself and her band. However, as host for the ACM Awards, Reba was speaking for the entire ACM. Her decision to briefly use her hosting privilege as a chance to jump on the bullying-the-Dixie-Chicks bandwagon reflects terribly on the ACM, and by extension, on country music as a whole. Either Reba should apologize, or the ACM should re-consider asking her back for her ninth time.


  • At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dixie Chicks are artistically challenged, while Reba makes people smile. When Reba talks, people listen. Dixie Chicks, they only have had one song worth listening to. AND NEVER try to duplicate the true artistry of Stevie Nicks, morons.

  • At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Reba is ethically challenged and nowhere near as bright or talented as each of the Dixie Chicks are.

  • At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Former Dixie Chicks Fan said…

    Finding these blog comments a decade or more after the Dixie Chicks several very public controversies gives one some additional perspective. In 2002-03, the Dixie Chicks were on top of the country music world, and had evolved a very distinctive sound that incorporated more than a little blue grass with the very pop vocals of Natalie Maines. It's rather ironic that they would make comments about artistic freedom, etc., when Robison and Maguire had labored for years with relatively small success until they very calculatedly recruited Maines and added her pop vocals to their sound -- only then did their popularity explode overnight. What they did next was dangerously close to country music suicide: Maines insulted a president from Texas, she insulted several other popular country singers, and then they insulted their own fans. Wow. Just wow. And not unsurprisingly, their popularity declined, and then cratered, and they still have a hard time getting airplay in certain regions of the United States. Nashville, and the C&W music world generally, has its share of liberals -- notably Faith Hill and Tim McGraw -- but none that were juvenile enough to insult the industry and their own fans. You could say that it was tragic, but they made plenty of money during their meteoric hey day, and seem to be enjoying their current professional lives. To an outsider, however, their careers, and that of Maines in particular, can be summed up in a single word: hubris.


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