There's always talk about how new, up-and-coming rappers are corrupting the hip-hop art form. You rarely hear about the massacre happening over at country radio.
Don't get me wrong: I really like country music. I mean, I not only listen to Faith Hill and Gretchen Wilson, like any other country fan might, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I have my Charlie Rich and George Strait favorites. During my teens in the 90s, I developed an affinity for music that was different-- and the older it was, the better. My friends knew me to be the one with the, let's say, eclectic taste in music. So, I think I'm open-minded enough and unbiased enough when it comes to music to be able to say:
God, John Rich's alleged political anthem "Raisin' McCain" is bad. I mean, real bad.
I've never been a Big and Rich fan, so I've never really heard any of their songs, or at least not the whole way through. They never seemed to have anything to say that was worth listening to. But after hearing this ditty that John Rich wrote for John McCain, I can't believe they even have a career.
Here's some of the lyrics from "Raisin' McCain":
Well he got shot down in a Vietnam town
Fighting for the red, white and blue
And they locked him up in the Hanoi Hilton
Thinking they could break him in two
He stayed strong, stayed extra long 'til they let all the other boys out
Now we've got a real man with an American plan,
we're going to put him in the big White House.
We're all just raising McCain
Everywhere across the USA
You can get on the train or get out of the way
We're all just raisin' McCain."
Big and Rich is where some popular country music is right now: ignorant swagger, dumbed down lyrics, and reminiscing about good ol' days that were never, ever that good. Forget about the fact that the line "We're all just raising McCain" is a bit of a lame throwaway line-- and so is almost every single other line of the song. In "Raisin' McCain" John Rich talks about "real men" like McCain--I guess these are the same real men who will put a "boot in your ass", as according to Toby Keith in his single "Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)".
I'm not saying that country music doesn't have a running thread through it that contains a pretty steady pattern of this kind of rhetoric. What I am saying is that it might be time for some of our modern-day country artists to place at least one foot inside the 21st century.
Take for instance, another song by Toby Keith called "Beer For My Horses". Ignore the atrocious name of the single and think about this for a second: the song contains disturbing lyrics that seem to glorify the days when lynch mobs could gather and have a good ol' fashion hangin'. Max Blumenthal over at huffingtonpost.com wrote a thorough article about the topic. You can find it here:
In that same article, Blumenthal discusses how Toby Keith-- who is apparently the new spokesman for black folks-- believes that black people think that Obama "don't talk, act or carry himself as a black person.... he talks, acts and carries himself as a Caucasian."
Obama appears to be a confident, well-spoken, affable, respectful guy. So, yep, Toby Keith is right. I'm nothing like him. As a black woman living in America, I can barely string a sentence together. Matter of fact, these posts that I volunteer to write here at eyesonobama.com are all a put on. I have a ghost-writer... hell, I can't even talk, let alone write -- I grunt to communicate whenever I want something.
I guess what irks me a bit about John Rich's anthem and Toby Keith's latest singles is that they insult the intelligence of everyone who's listening to them. Even with that bigoted statement of his, Keith insulted the intelligence of not just black folks but everyone's--he assumes that in this day and age with all the progress this country's supposed to have had, there's a certain way a person is supposed to behave per his or her race.
I mean, I'd like to think that the effortless grace and obvious intelligence of Obama could be embodied in at least one other living black person.
And John Rich's nursery rhymes in "Raising McCain" don't do much really to tell McCain's story in a compelling way. I know, I know. The Will. i. am. song that was inspired by Obama's campaign called "Yes We Can" was schmaltzy--but at least it made sense. Plus, it touched the chords that anthems are supposed to touch in order to be called anthems.
Keith and Rich both need to take note from some of the real and great country legends. But since they don't seem to be the sharpest knives in the drawer, maybe they should first try to catch up with some of their contemporaries, and then try to meet up with the rest of us living in the present.