Seen on Facebook this morning, a meme with the following sentiment:
“Country music needs more of George Strait and Alan Jackson and less of the Dixie Chicks and Beyonce.”
Well hey, why not both? (Maybe not Beyonce, though I will say that if “Daddy Lessons” is played on country radio, I’d much rather it be with the Dixie Chicks.)
Here’s a proposition for you, Sparky:
If we still had the Dixie Chicks, we’d still have both Alan and George too. How’s that, you ask?
Well, let’s put it like this. I’ll readily acknowledge that the Dixie Chicks were at least a little controversial in their day even before The Incident, but I do not see how it can possibly be argued that they were not one of the most traditional acts the mainstream has seen in at least the last quarter-century. They managed to sell more than 6 million copies of an album that was not just traditional country, but almost pure bluegrass, in the era of Shania Twain and Faith Hill. With the musical leadership they provided, with the example they set on how to make actual country music and still have commercial success, they — along with George, Alan, Lee Ann Womack, and others I am probably forgetting right offhand — could have helped lay the groundwork for the next generation of traditional country in the mainstream. The level of quality control on Music Row would have been radically different, to the point that, as I have said before, the likes of Florida-Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, and Thomas Rhett would never have been given the time of day in Nashville, the latter two would have gone on to be the shitty pop music flashes in the pan that they should have been considered all along, and we’d still have quality music on the radio that at least bore some resemblance to country in addition to all the great independent stuff. Would that new mainstream music have been as good as Boland, the Turnpike Troubadours, et al? Probably not, but it would still be miles ahead of the swill radio’s peddling now.
And how would George & Alan still have been here? Well — and again, I’m probably just spitballing here — with the traditional music still getting played, there still might have been room for them on the radio.
But instead…we have what we have now. I don’t know what’s worse, that or the possibility that more than a few people still think it was worth the Chicks getting booted from country music because they didn’t agree with what the Chicks said. You know, I didn’t agree with ’em either, but some things are bigger than mere politics — or should be, anyway.