It’s been a long while since I’ve posted here. There hasn’t been anything significant to write about in the past month or so, except the letter Stephanie Nilles wrote to Amanda Palmer regarding why the free music model isn’t really working for anyone other than Palmer. Nilles was so eloquent in her open letter, there wasn’t a need to comment.
Today, however, some seriously thought provoking ideas have surfaced about music content that bears a thought or two.
Brad Paisley’s tune, “Accidental Racist,” is getting some attention the past several days based on a sloppy attempt at making a political statement regarding racism, history, and Paisley’s generation holding the bag for mistakes made in generations past.
Kim Ruehl is a respected voice in Americana circles and her post this morning “When well-meaning topical music goes terribly wrong,” spawned a bit of research in my office. Please read the article, and draw your own conclusions by all means.
Ruehl brings up some really interesting points regarding Paisley’s faux pas he insists isn’t a publicity stunt.
For his part, Paisley defends the action and says he did his homework on the subject AFTER the song was released, knowing he needed to defend the action publicly. Which responsible record label would allow such misguided behavior?
If info on the Internet is true and correct, Paisley’s label is associated through its chairman, Andrew Lack, with Bloomberg Media. Not surprisingly, Bloomberg Media’s major shareholder is New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Media as we know is forever creating divisions among countries, politicians, voters, races, genders, religions and the list goes on and on. The relentless divisive behavior supports one of the most-widely remembered phrases in political history.
In 1858, well before the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
According to Forbes in March of this year, Bloomberg is worth $27 billion. Clearly he’s part of the One Percent. He needs this country to be divided against itself. Each and every day brings a new and shocking crack in the sidewalk. Put a white country music celebrity with nothing remotely intellectual in his catalog out on the front lines doing a very poor job of making a statement, and what do you get? You get a media-fueled reason to create a deeper divide along racial lines.
But wait! LL Cool J is part of the package, so it doesn’t look quite so obvious there’s something in the Kool Aid. And so far, LL Cool J hasn’t been part of the conversation. So you have a white West Virginian talking about race when he hasn’t got a clue what he’s even trying to say. It’s a great way to open a positive national debate, no?
Paisley doesn’t have enough intellectual clout to carry this one, so the fox in the hen house isn’t as sly as he wants us to believe.
If this song had any depth to it whatsoever, I’d be the head cheerleader. Ruehl brings out the idea if songwriters were so inclined, there is more subject matter than you can shake a stick at where topical music is concerned. Knowledgeable songwriters who are skilled at making statements through music are sorely needed in this culture where songs about trucks, tailgates, and beer are about as deep as things get.
Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger brought music about the working class to the fore when the working class was at the mercy of capitalists making millions off the backs of underpaid laborers. Their music brought people together and eased the strain of that oppressive era.
Things are not so different now. Oppression is looming large as the sun goes down behind a very large house much easier to divide.
Accidentally racist? It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?