Friday, October 7, 2011

Why I Hate Country Music

I just remembered why I hate Country Music. I’ve tried to embrace the genre. I’ve listened to Keith Urban’s “Without You” and Toby Keith sing about his broke down shoes in “Somewhere Else.” It’s not the music I dislike. It’s the views of many of the people who listen to that hillbilly swing.

I know, one shouldn’t place all the pigeons in the same hole. The truth is I grew up listening to Country Music. My father introduced me to Charlie Pride back in 1969 by playing “Afraid of losing You Again” and “Is Anybody Going to San Antone” every Friday night with a bottle of Vodka by his side to wash the blues away.

My first gig in radio was with KTGR-AM, the Country station back home. I’ve done my share of releasing the massive stereotypes in my mind related to the people who love Country Music. I keep reminding myself that not everyone is bigoted, and that it’s just the music. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I’ve come close, real close, to making a trip up to Charlotte, NC to watch NASCAR racing. The way I look at it, Country Music and NASCAR are kin. You have to take the one to get to the other. That too may be a stereotype waiting to be exposed, but, hey, that’s the journey I have taken to get to where I am today.

My movement to that campfire meeting where folks wave Confederate flags as a symbol of Southern pride has taken a detour. Hank Williams, Jr. has reminded me of the bigotry that comes with that smugness for the days when colored folks knew their proper place, and white folk ruled down in good ole Dixie.

Williams sang about that pride in 1988 in a song titled “If the South Woulda Won.” The lyrics are enough to make those bumps on the back of my neck stand tall and yell “No he didn’t!”

“I’d prob’ly run for President of the Southern State,” he sings. “The day Elvis passed away would be our national holiday, if the South would a won we’d had it made.”

That makes sense. For the 2000 election he redid his song “We Are Young Country” to “This is Bush-Cheney Country”. He has made contributions to Michele Bachman’s 2012 presidential campaign, and has explored a run for the 2012 Republican nomination as a Senator from Tennessee.

“I’d make my Supreme Court down in Texas, and we wouldn’t have no killers getting’ off free,” he continue in his ballad in homage to the days when black folks were property. “If they were proven guilty, then they would swing quickly, instead of writin’ books and smilin’ in TV.”

When ESPN decided to fire Williams for comments he made on the Fox News Channel’s Fox and Friends, he responded like a politician ready to throw his name in the hat. “After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision," he wrote. "By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It's been a great run."

Those rowdy friends are circling the wagons. Shucks darn, what done happened to America if a white man can’t say what’s on his mind? The tone of arrogance in his response denotes a deep sense of racial privilege that has to be checked at the door. Williams has benefited from singing that rowdy friend’s songs to begin games dominated by those colored boys he apparently despises so much.

The attacks and lack of sensitivity involving our nation’s first African American president have become shocking. It’s informative to consider that Williams made his comments on the heels of the controversy involving Rick Perry. Why would Williams talk about golf partners instead of the rock bearing the name of the hunt club on Perry’s property-Niggerhead?

For those who missed it, On Monday, October 3, 2011, in a morning interview with Fox News Channel's Fox and Friends, Williams in reference to a June golf game where President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner had teamed against Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, stated that match was "one of the biggest political mistakes ever."

"Come on. That'd be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu," He stated. He went on to say that the President and Vice President are "the enemy" and compared them to "the Three Stooges".

When anchor Gretchen Carlson later said to him, "You used the name of one of the most hated people in all of the world to describe, I think, the president." Williams responded, "Well, that is true. But I'm telling you like it is."

The comparison is not new. A number of videos have circulated on YouTube that likened Obama to the most hated man ever to live ( and By making the comparison, Williams toyed with a common theme with that good ole boy network that views Obama as the incarnation of evil.

In defending his comments, Williams evoked his Constitutional rights to free speech. In doing so he inserted the issue of race. "Always respected the office of the president," He began. "Every time the media brings up the tea party, it's painted as racist and extremists – but there's never a backlash, no outrage to those comparisons ... Working-class people are hurting – and it doesn't seem like anybody cares. When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job – it makes a whole lot of us angry. Something has to change. The policies have to change."

I agree with that statement. People are hurting. That’s why people across the country are rallying against Wall Street. The problem with Williams, the tea party and those who want to go back to the good ole days, is the assertion that it’s the black dudes fault. What he and others have done is to minimize the President of the United States to the lowest possible caricature possible-the re-embodiment of Adolf Hitler.

They do so by questioning his birth certificate, by calling him a socialist and by blaming this presidency for the upheaval caused by a dude named Bush.

That, my friends, is at the root racist. Williams and those who follow him want us to imagine what it would be like if the South had won. One thing is certain, there wouldn’t be a black man serving as President, and that is the reason for calling Obama the enemy.

So, I’m done with my quest to embrace Country Music. I’m done with NASCAR and Confederate flags. Like it or not, we are here to stay.

Pass me the Nina Simone CD!
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day's gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer

Don't tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I've been there so I know
They keep on saying "Go slow!"


  1. I love Nina Simone and especially "Mississippi Goddam." I understand. I'd add that racism seems to be marbled throughout the culture everywhere and not just in the South. Witness how Hank Williams Jr. was only unacceptable on national TV when his implicit racism became overt. You can be disgusted with Williams' stupidity and ignorance, but his musical genre? I mean, what about Lyle Lovett, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, the Dixie Chicks, Kris Kristofferson, Leon Russell and...I could go on. Lynyrd Skynyrd's pretty creepy, but we're not going to dump all rock and rollers (Buddy Holly? Chuck Berry? Little Richard?) are we? I think we should be talking more about the corporate purposes and the stupidity of TV, the big beast on which little Hank is just a flea.

  2. I agree with you. What I don't understand is, with all this racism in country music, why are ALL MY NATIVE AMERICAN FAMILY is so drawn to it? I mean, I tried to turn my auntie on to some Pink Floyd. She said," If Pink Floyd were playing out in the street right now, I'd slam my door on them." All can I can say is that I'm perplexed.