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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Chick This Out

On the Dixie Chicks thing. It's always risky for any performer to use their stage to make a political/religious statement. It's overwhelmingly tempting at times. As artists, our creative urges, which drive us to wake up in the morning and keep breathing throughout the day, often result in a product that is political or religious. I have a few songs like that but I usually try to disguise them. I have a song about environmental disaster but I feel a bit safe with that. A fact revealed in the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" is that fifty-three percent of American media sources call global warming "unproven." But zero percent of scientific publications call it unproven. So I feel safe with that song. It's a Fox News vs. Science contest after all. I have another song called Underground that started out being noncommittal about what I was going underground for but it just took on a life of its own. I'll probably rewrite it or not record it. Which is ironic as it deals with having to go underground to avoid the political climate we live in. It's more important as an artist to make people think and feel than it is to ram your POV down their throats.

That being said, I think the public reaction to the Chicks by the country music fans is ludicrous. Blue state radio doesn't make an issue about all the country songs that drip and ooze with veiled and not so veiled hatred for people who disagree with country music POV. They just don't listen. Perhaps because they either don't like the music or because they don't take it seriously enough to care what they say. For well educated thinkers it may be hard to take a genre seriously when it relies on clichˇ so heavily and whose first rule of success is to follow the Nashville formula for getting airplay:
Thirteen seconds of intro, mid tempo, 60 seconds to the chorus which must repeat the title from 5 to 10 times throughout the song, 3 minutes, 20 seconds or under per song, a small range of subject matter limited to love found, love celebrated, love lost, patriotism, drinking, fishing and other rural blue color themes like pickups and dogs. That all equals entry up the country charts. Song forms for successful chart entry and longevity are mostly the basic Chorus-Verse-Chorus- Instrumental-Bridge-Chorus.
You can read that in Billboard. I got it from Ralph Murphy who writes a column called Murphy's Law for ASCAP. I'm not making it up. It's hard to get very heady with that formula. But Ralph and many others have obviously made a tidy living with it.

That's why my most satisfying work is in Coffee Houses. Snobs like me feel it's like a choice between the NY Times or the supermarket tabloids. Sometimes I'm too busy for the Times and sometimes I need a good laugh (Baby Born Singing Christmas Carols, Britney Births Alien Child, Olsen Twin Carrying Henry Kissinger's Love Child) but sometimes I'm troubled by how seriously people take that stuff.

So I guess one of the major lessons is that you shouldn't do anything if you're not prepared to deal with the possible consequences. And if you don't entertain all the possible consequences, then you deserve to live with them when the ones you ignored blow up in your face. Some people are clearly comfortable with that. They thrive on it.

Whatever your POV, thrive on it this week. Happy Monday. And on this Memorial Day, remember those we have lost for whatever the cause. Regardless of what you or they believed, they are lost forever. "Gone is Gone (No Matter How You Go)," is another shelved song title of mine. I'll probably never resurrect that one though.

posted by Bud @ 7:44 PM

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