I am not a country music fan. I like certain country singers, but I do not rabidly follow country music because, well, it seems a bit conservative in my estimation, and anyone who knows me knows I don't swang, or twang, that way, as it were.
Still, I enjoy watching the country music awards shows, like last night's ACM/CMA/BFD/WTF awards hosted by Reba "My Singing Career Is Over And All I Got Was This Lousy TV Gig" McEntire. She was telling jokes so old that Jack Benny was turning over in his grave; so old that even Milton Berle wouldn't steal them; so old.....you get my point.
But I tuned in. I like Keith Urban; he's easy on the ears and the eyes. Plus, he's married to my girlfriend Nicole Kidman. Keith writes and sings about all people, not just dogs and horses and cowboys.
But for me, country music is very exclusionary, very much us and them. Many country music artists make the point of telling the rest of us how they relate to "regular folk" because they don't live in places like New York or LA.
That pisses me off. Regular folk do live in New York and LA; and Portland and Chicago and Miami and Denver. I'm regular folk; gay regular folk. And that's okay; but you don't see me in country music. Where's the Elton John of country music? The kd lang? Oh, kd did record a country album, but it didn't go over well, so she became The Chanteuse. Country music's loss.
Which brings me to last night's performance of John Rich's "Shuttin' Detroit Down." he said, before performing, and I quote, "I'd like to dedicate this song tonight to all the hard-working, taxpaying Americans from coast to coast who love this country as much as I do."
Then he proceeded to sing a song about real Americans who don';t live on Wall Street or in New York, all the while strumming his guitar with it's "Made in the U.S.A." bumpersticker on it. Now, granted, he says the song is about taxpayers angry at the bailouts on Wall Street, but he ridicules everyone who doesn't live in "real" America.
Remember how pissed off we got when The Palin/McCain Real Americans Traveling Roadshow used that same mentality. Real Americans live everywhere. New York. Nashville. DC. Louisville. LA. Memphis. Sing about all of us, John Rich. We all deserve a voice and don't deserve to be left out.
All of which leads me to the ACM/CMA/WTF award for Entertainer of the Year. It's always been men, except for a few appearances by women like Loretta Lynne and Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Reba McEntired; but it's usually a good old boy that wins it. Case in point: Kenny Chesney has won the last four years. Brooks and Dunn won during the 90s; Alabama and George Strait split the 80s. Women don't win Entertainer of the Year. Except now Carrie Underwood won.
She, too, becomes a footnote in country music. A lone woman in a sea of men. So here's Carrie, because she isn't exclusionary and doesn't pit one American against another.