I’ve been remiss about blogging here while Laurie is unavailable, and I have a stack of interesting topics … all of which got pushed out when I read Charles Jay’s piece on Daily Kos this morning. Politics in country music have been all over my news feed recently: there’s the controversy over Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town,” (which Jay discusses in this essay); there’s the meteoric rise of “Rich Men North of Richmond” by Oliver Anthony. I’m not linking to those songs; you can find them easily if you want to. Here’s what Morris says about Aldean’s song and its ilk:
People are streaming these songs out of spite. It’s not out of true joy or love of the music. It’s to own the libs. And that’s so not what music is intended for. Music is supposed to be the voice of the oppressed — the actual oppressed. And now it’s being used as this really toxic weapon in culture wars.
And, of course, there’s the ongoing drumbeat of country music’s extreme predilection toward whiteness and masculinity. (Laurie and I wrote about that early last year.)
I’m not much of a country music listener (I’m not much of a music listener, honestly), so I wasn’t aware of Maren Morris. She has quite a litany of successes, including a 2017 Grammy for “My Church.” She’s also a kick-ass radical activist. As Jay recounts,
… when former Fox News host Tucker Carlson referred to her as “Lunatic Country Music Person,” Morris shot back by launching a T-shirt line with that moniker that raised more than $150,000 for transgender youth support groups. It included the telephone number for a crisis hotline for trans youth.
That’s how we like it!
As the video of “Get the Hell Out of Here” above, along with another new song, “The Tree” make clear, Morris is giving up on country music, clearly the music of her heart. As she told Mikael Wood at the Los Angeles Times:
These songs are obviously the result of that—the aftermath of walking away from something that was really important to you and the betrayal that you felt very righteously. But also knowing there’s a thread of hope as you get to the other side. I hope it comes across that way because I truly was in a space of hope when I wrote the two songs, even though “Get the Hell Out of Here” is really heavy. It’s about disarming that trauma and saying, ‘I can’t bail water out of this sinking ship anymore. It’s so futile. I choose happiness.’
These days, it is entirely too easy to lose our way in the world of the haters and the destroyers, who are so far from being the whole story. It isn’t just refreshing to learn about Maren Morris, it’s absolutely vital to know about her, people like her, and the work that is being done in so many places not just to fight back (which she does so well), but also to strengthen and reinforce that thread of hope.
I am no longer on Twitter; the anti-Semitism, racism, transphobia, and general hatred got to be too much. Follow her on Mastodon.
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