I thought long and hard about my first Blog. To quote Admiral Stockdale, "Who am I? Why am I here?"
And then I got this idea to finally weigh in on what I thought of the Dixie Chicks controversy. It's got Country music, politics, radio, labels, concerts...the whole she-bang. So, here goes:
About a million years ago, in England, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks told a buncha Brits at a Dixie Chicks concert that the group was embarrassed that the guy sleeping in the White House was from Texas. They were immediately labeled unpatriotic, Saddam-sympathizing, troop hating harlots, who probably beat their kids and also cussed around their mothers.
There was much spilling of ink and gnashing of teeth about how this was a black eye for their careers, record sales, and country music in general. There was also a lot of chest thumping about how they shouldn't talk bad about the guy sleeping in the White House while there are troops in the field.
Now that the storm has passed a little and the girls have realized that the best way to overcome controversy is to take your clothes off for a major U.S. publication, I thought I could add my two cents worth on the whole thing, and maybe add a little perspective and levity to the situation.
First off, all that political, martial, patriotic mumbo-jumbo was completely meaningless. Blah blah blah. Nobody was worried about the guy who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he can take care of himself; and he should be given a lot of credit for never really jumping into the "controversy" while it was happening. Also, the troops probably could give a rip what the Dixie Chicks thought of Bush. From everything I was watching on CNN, they were a little too busy.
The real problem was whether this was going to damage mainstream country radio/music's hottest commodity: the image of the Dixie Chicks as 3 self-sufficient women who have overcome immense odds to do things their way and find success in the land of opportunity. Mainstream country radio and the 4 big labels in Nashville are focused on one thing and one thing only: catering the music to women between 25 and 45 so that they don't change the channel during the commercials aimed at women between 25 and 45. This collusion fills the airwaves daily with plenty of heartbroken cowboys in black hats begging for forgiveness, and singing of the joy their woman brings them with a shiny sunbeam on their shoulder and a tear in their eye.
The Dixie Chicks were a freight train for that image and demo. They delivered, "I am woman, hear me roar" in spades, and they delivered the sympathy/empathy song about a woman in trouble in the one way syrupy losers like Tim McGraw, Aaron Hill, Lonestar, Blake Shelton, and all the other ass clowns that are ruining the art form couldn't: in a female voice. Like the main concern in "The Godfather," their on-stage blunder was just bad for business. And while radio and label execs were dancing like puppets on strings around the issue of banning them, dropping them, supporting them, and calling them traitors, their true concern was that the flagship of the fleet had been sunk at a stadium across the Big Pond.
The reason Country does so well as a format in city after city is because the collusion of the stations and labels has produced a well-researched death grip on this demographic. If the Dixie Chicks start disappearing from playlists and Top Ten charts, it won't be because they're getting censored, or because it was ordered by the administration, or because men in black suits dropped from black helicopters at midnight are storming radio stations and stealing their disks away in the night. It will be because what they said causes women between 25 and 45 not to listen to commercials about iced coffee and how a husband who really loves his wife and family would buy them satellite TV. All that matters to Country Radio and the big 4 Labels in Nashville is the demo, their buying habits, and the power switch on their radios.
Addendum--Thank you from The Onion's website:
The Dixie Chicks Controversy: What do you think?