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Apr 08 2013

Nothing accidental about it

Brad Paisley is just a plain ol’ straight up racist.

He’s trying to defend Southern pride with sentiments that are almost reasonable.

I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done

Which is fair enough — there’s nothing wrong with being from the South. But the beginning is about flaunting the traitor’s flag: the confederate banner which wave to defend slavery. Guy, if you’re looking for vestiges of the Southern past that you’re not proud of and that you’re willing to reject, start with that flag. It’s not hard.

Even more bewildering, though, is that LL Cool J joins in late in the song.

If you don’t judge my do-rag
I won’t judge your red flag
If you don’t judge my gold chains
I’ll forget the iron chains … Let bygones be bygones.

WTF? He’s equating wearing a scarf on your head with waving the Confederate battle flag, and worse, comparing a fashion choice with slavers shackling people in iron chains?

That is about the most screwed up song I’ve ever heard. Not to mention that it’s boring derivative C&W.

64 comments

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  1. 1
    Johnny Vector

    If you’re going to listen to C&W for some reason, I recommend Will Hoge. Here’s a song about Jesus that I actually enjoyed (cause, y’know, obviously a metaphor): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5epNjjNO_s

  2. 2
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    It is hard to let bygones be bygones when you keep waiving that symbol of bigotry and oppression around.

    It’s almost like racist America is not a bygone age. Wait, that is exactly what it is like.

  3. 3
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Here’s a song about Jesus that I actually enjoyed (cause, y’know, obviously a metaphor)…

    re. songs about Jeebus, I quite enjoy Puscifer’s Sour Grapes (Legend of the Mix)*. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lrjGMrQLKw
    Excerpt,

    “He could not only turn your awful spinach dip into cocaine… I think we could skip right over the wine. Let’s take that water… turn it into tequila.”

    “Fuckin-A Jesus! He’s Amazing!”

    *-1 for containing an ableist slur.

  4. 4
    Inaji

    Easy enough for LL Cool J, he doesn’t have to live in the South, he doesn’t have to deal with every day bigotry in every glance and interaction of the place he has no choice but to live and he has plenty of money to keep himself insulated.

  5. 5
    ChasCPeterson

    WTF?

    One can only echo this question.

  6. 6
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    It’s nice to know that two rich men can so easily sing away all the racism wrapped up in a flag and…do-rags. Because these are totally equivalent.

  7. 7
    karpad

    I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done

    yeah, this bothered me on Yo Is This Racist? too.

    Let’s itemize that list, shall we? If you’re proud of where you’re from, but not everything you’ve done, Mr Paisley, what, specifically, are you proud of? And what are you ashamed of? Because when you namedrop Reconstruction and say that THAT is what caused racism and negativity to persist for 150 years, I find myself questioning your motives a wee bit.

  8. 8
    cotton

    As a fan of country music, I’d like to bring up the fact that Paisley is one of the VERY few mainstream C&W artists to have anything to do with Obama or attempt to write songs that challenge the defensive, and close minded country music that has been pumped out since 9/11. BTW it wasn’t too progressive before that unless you go back to the 70′s. Hell he sang at Obama’s inaugural ball. How many C&W artists would do that? He has also issued several songs with lyrics that try to at least broach some topics most in the south (the people vastly responsible for his success) are traditionally uncomfortable talking about. The following 3 songs I’ve excerpted were all singles released for radio:

    In the song “Camouflage”: “The stars and bars offend some folks and I guess I see why / But now-a-days there’s still a way to show your southern pride / The only thing as patriotic as the old red white and blue / Is green and gray and black and brown and tan all over too ” (a camo american flag).

    In the song “Southern Comfort Zone”:
    Not everybody drives a truck, not everybody drinks sweet tea
    Not everybody owns a gun, wears a ball cap boots and jeans
    Not everybody goes to church or watches every NASCAR race
    Not everybody knows the words to “Ring Of Fire” or “Amazing Grace”

    In the song Welcome to the Future:
    I had a friend in school
    Running back on a football team
    They burned a cross in his front yard
    For asking out the home coming queen

    I thought about him today
    And everybody who’s seen what he’s seen
    From a woman on a bus
    To a man with a dream

    I’m not defending THAT song, I’m just sayin’ the guy is trying.

    This may not seem like much to ya’ll but can anyone else name a single C&W song from a mainstream artist in the past 50 years to have ANY songs that talked about these issues, much less multiple songs across multiple albums, all released for the radio?

    People in the South are good people. I’m southern as are my family and friends. Yes, they are a bit backwards. I think Paisley is trying to take bring these things up in a way that doesn’t immediately turn people off by exclaiming how backwards they are. Yes, part of this is he would like to continue being successful but I also think he’s trying to, ever so gently, push some of the younger generations of Southerners towards appreciating diversity instead of fearing it.

    As far as the LL Cool J stuff: I dunno what to tell ya >.<

  9. 9
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    well, that saved me some time. If I’d done something valuable, I might have spent future time looking back, trying to recapture those 5 minutes.

    For the time spent on this song? I won’t have that problem.

  10. 10
    zibble

    Just a reminder: the “confederate flag” is not actually the historical confederate flag. Maybe if you’re actually “celebrating the history of the South” you could, like, research what that actually is.

    And maybe, you know, if you want to say how much you’re not a racist, you could care a little bit more about what that flag represents to people of color and a little less about fucking Skynyrd.

    Why is it so hard for so many to understand that yes, you CAN be accidentally racist – or at the very least, give so little of a shit about the problem that you contribute to the problem? Oh yeah, because understanding would mean they’d have to take responsibility for their actions.

  11. 11
    zibble

    Whoops, borked link, 2nd time’s the charm.

  12. 12
    DrVanNostrand

    Country music always reminds me that freedom costs a buck o’ five.

  13. 13
    Argle Bargle

    A good song about God: “God Will Fuck You Up”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xquQgx0EIo

  14. 14
  15. 15
    newfie

    “I’m not a racist, I’m just wearing this white robe and hood for UV protection. People should understand that.”

  16. 16
    yubal

    Book recommendation “Confederates in the attic.” Tony howitz

  17. 17
    Nemo

    I like Lyle Lovett’s “God Will”.

  18. 18
    erikthebassist

    Buddy Rich once said “I’m allergic to two things; peanuts and country music.”

    I concur, even though I’m not allergic to peanuts, I love peanuts.

  19. 19
    SallyStrange

    I wonder if LLCool J would be interested in a collaboration with Stephen Colbert? I heard Colbert was looking for a new Black Friend.

  20. 20
    mythbri

    I’m with erikthebassist. I love peanuts.

  21. 21
    DLC

    The vast majority of country music is without any redeeming qualities whatsoever.
    I do like some of the old, blues-influenced country, but it’s more a case of “finding a gold nugget in a bin of coal” .

    As for the so-called “Rebel Flag” — it’s nothing more than a symbol of the racist, slave-owning antebellum south, and it needs to be left in the dustbin.

  22. 22
    JohnnieCanuck

    Ms. Daisy, great link.

    For my tastes, not exactly musical but the lyrics were funny. I should go find the lyrics printed out in case I missed any good lines. My accent is not a good match to his.

  23. 23
    chrislawson

    DLC,

    As Theodore Sturgeon once said when someone complained that 90% of science fiction is crap: “Ninety percent of *everything* is crap.” Country music is no exception. The pre-chewed pablum that comes out of the major studios is no different to mass produced dance music, rock, or any other genre. I’m not a big fan of the country genre, but there are still some extraordinary artists out there: try Steve Earle, Jenny Lewis, Neko Case, Lyle Lovett, Old Crow Medicine Show, Johnny Dowd (if you have a handy supply of antidepressants), Akron/Family, the Avett Brothers, Josh Ritter, and Langhorne Slim. Even artists who usually inhabit the (to me) uninteresting core of country music can put out great work — Natalie Maines’ new cover of Pink Floyd’s “Mother” is a stellar song.

    Anyway, this is all beside the point. There is a strong backbone of racism in country music dressed up as southern pride (because it’s one of the ways you can be racist without being called out). But on the other hand there are plenty of country artists fighting against racism, too, including southerners. Just gotta pick your artists.

  24. 24
    DLC

    chrislawson @23 : Well, I did say there were some nuggets in that coal bin. I’m not without some knowledge of the stuff. Grandmother listens to it. (yes, including Brad Paisley.) But thanks for the suggestions.

  25. 25
    sundiver

    Chrislawson@23: For my tastes James McMurtry is an overlooked alt-country artist, (though I prefer the term Y’allternative). A songwriter that uses the term “Mason-Dumbass Line” is okay in my book. Joe Ely and Robert Earle Keen come to mind too. The plodding sludge churned out from Music Row I ignore. As far as LL Cool J goes, I have no opinion as I don’t care for that genre.

  26. 26
    Ingdigo Jump

    I dunno my impression was half of the genre are songs about how your wife left you because you get drunk and chase beat the dog with a fuel injector and the other half is jebus

  27. 27
    erikthebassist

    There can be no doubt that there are some really great artists who’s music has a C & W influence to it, Bonnie Raitt is one of my favorites, but having some knowledge of the history of western pop music, I have a hard time recognizing the genre in general of being little more than white washed blues.

  28. 28
    erikthebassist

    Ing,

    This the old joke:

    What do you get when you play a country music record backwards?

    You get you dog back, your house back, your wife back, your job back….

  29. 29
    erikthebassist

    This = thus dyac!

  30. 30
    ButchKitties

    Patty Griffin’s Mary gets me a little misty every time I hear it.

  31. 31
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    I dunno my impression was half of the genre are songs about how your wife left you because you get drunk and chase beat the dog with a fuel injector and the other half is jebus

    Oddly enough, despite the stereotype I can’t remember more than a handful of country songs wherein a man is lamenting being left by his wife.

    On the other hand, there are a whole fuckton of songs about spouse murdering. Some are about murdering an abusive spouse for the sake of escaping/protecting a child, but most are about killing for cheating (Garth Brooks is especially bad for this). There are also a ton of them where the killing is just threatened or someone’s property is used as a proxy and destroyed threateningly (Carrie “Jesus Take The Wheel” Underwood is an excellent example).

    There’s a lengthy history of songs about murder in folk music (and many of the classic “kill that woman” country songs are actually adaptations of songs predating the genre). I might just be more prone to noticing, remembering and being bothered by them than most people. But there is a difference between, say, Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads which lovingly adapts traditional ballads and wallows in the horror and nastiness of killers and the upbeat yee-haw! of Papa Loves Mama.

  32. 32
    ChasCPeterson

    having some knowledge of the history of western pop music, I have a hard time recognizing the genre in general of being little more than white washed blues.

    dude, based on that sentence alone I have to question your “knowledge”.

    Anyone interested in the real history of country music could do much worse than checking out this guy‘s 22-part blog-based history, with accompanying downloadable CD compilations of the (subjective) best of each era (some possibly of, eh, questionable legality, probably), and in finding that link I see he’s put together a nice freely downloadable e-book.

  33. 33
    ChasCPeterson

    also: Nanci Griffith.

  34. 34
    chigau (違う)

    It’s not like ‘country’ and ‘western’ are uniform throughout…

  35. 35
    scienceavenger

    Country combined with rap…could the stupid get any deeper? The only surprise to me is that this could surprise any of you.

  36. 36
    Dee Phlat

    I’m much more offended by the US flag. It represents everything the CSA was about, plus 200 more years of genocide and slaughter.

  37. 37
    SallyStrange

    There are no genres of music that are entirely without merit. At least, I haven’t found any so far.

  38. 38
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Through following Zibble’s link, I have discovered that there is a Christian flag. I was genuinely unaware of this. It seems to be used exclusively in the Americas, and mainly the USA. Huh.

  39. 39
    erikthebassist

    Chas:

    dude, based on that sentence alone I have to question your “knowledge”.

    frankly idgaf what you question “dude”. I’ve been living breathing, eating sleeping and shitting music since I was 10 years old. I’m college level educated in the subject including the history and it’s racist underpinnings.

    C & W is the blues with out the shuffle, because the shuffle was a black thing.

  40. 40
    chigau (違う)

    Country music exists only in the United States?

  41. 41
    M can help you with that.

    erikthebassist @ 39 –

    Being a bassist might also contribute to being less than fond of country. I’m purely amateur as a bassist, but the thought of playing country puts me right to sleep.

  42. 42
    Uncle Ebeneezer

    IIRC, Paisley also did a song supporting gay marriage, and yes he is notably more open-minded/liberal than most Country stars. That said, yeah, I’m quite tired of Southerners pointing to the Rebel Flag as the only possible way they can celebrate their heritage. They need a better symbol. One that isn’t associated with a fight over slavery.

    It’s a shame to see this kind of sentiment in his lyrics, because I admire his guitar playing skills very much.

    Also want to agree on “Confederates In The Attic.” Amazing, though-provoking (and very funny) book.

  43. 43
    ButchKitties

    I’m purely amateur as a bassist, but the thought of playing country puts me right to sleep.

    The bassist I lives with calls it yo-yo bass. Sometimes people do fancy tricks, but most of the time it just goes up, down, up, down, up, down.

  44. 44
    redmann

    chigau (ouch ouch ouch)
    I was a member of the Northern Nashville Country Music Assocation back in the 70′s in the far north of Scotland (Thurso for those who care to know). We got CW acts on their way to the North Sea oildfields and a lot of local talent. CW was, and maybe still is, very popular in the UK. A friend of ours who was an office in the Royal Navy was the lead singer in a local group called “Johnny May and Luckenbach”. As I remember Jim Reeves was more popular in the UK than the States.

  45. 45
    chigau (違う)

    redmann
    I saw a “Country” band in a lounge in Fiji in 1980.
    All locals.

  46. 46
    carlie

    Everything wrong about that song by the wonderful Lesley Kinzel.

  47. 47
    erikthebassist

    Yes, playing C & W on bass is about exciting as watching paint dry, I won’t deny it, but there are plenty of artists who’s music I thoroughly enjoy for who the groove or bass parts are an afterthought. I know some bad ass country musicians who you’d never think would be until you see them on a stage playing too. This isn’t about musicianship for me.

    What bothers me are the people who go beyond enjoying the music and embrace the red neck culture. There’s a guy where I work who has a deer head and the words “Ditch the Bitch, Let’s Go Hunting” emblazoned on the rear windshield of his pickup truck. He has “Country Music” stickers on the rear side windows too.

    I live in Buffalo, NY. This guy isn’t from the south or Texas, but he wears a cowboy hat and shit kickers everyday. He adopted redneckism.

    That’s what I’m talking about, the culture of country music, the confederate flag waving. It’s blatant racism and blatant misogyny very often as well.

    So my point is this, why bother providing a market for that crap. I know not every country fan or artist is racist, but it’s a common enough theme that I don’t feel the need to go looking for the diamonds in the rough when there is plenty of other great shit out there to support.

    I don’t listen to 80′s hairspray rock or rap for many of the same reasons. It bothers me that people use music as a cultural identifier. Music is art, it should speak to every one, or at least try. When it speaks to one demographic it becomes divisive, and in my fantasy land bubble, music is inclusive. It should cross cultural boundaries not reinforce them.

  48. 48
    firefly

    I work in the country music industry in Nashville and I was actually called to do a TV interview about this song this morning.
    .
    Calling Brad a “straight up racist” is extremely unfair to him. Of the high-profile artists, he is the most outspoken on issues of equality and he is really trying to bring that into his music more and more. Because of country radio’s main audience, he has to do this carefully. We may all wish he didn’t have to, but that’s the reality. The do-rag/red flag and gold chains/iron chains lines are, I assume, well-meant but I agree that they don’t help at all. And any glorifying of that “red flag” just seems irresponsible to me. The song’s message is still great and very important, no matter how clumsily it’s been expressed.
    .
    For some of the people upthread commenting about drinkin’ and cheatin’ songs, check out the current country radio #1 song (and don’t let the title mislead you):

    Lee Brice – I Drive Your Truck

  49. 49
    Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts

    Does anyone know how long it took me to figure out that C&W meant Country and Western*? (I can’t load the video from this machine.) I thought it was the name of some collaborative musical effort. Why else would a rapper be on a track with a country singer? Of course, I was at a loss to explain the meaning of C&W.

    Knowing the meaning doesn’t change my reaction to the lyrics, but at least I won’t accidentally subject myself to actually listening to it for the complete lyrics.

    Seriously, WTF …wtf.

    setunim elohw evif *

  50. 50
    Chris Clarke

    I see a lot of insinuation here that Country and Western is one monolithic genre. It isn’t. Unless you can combine Cajun and Bakersfield Honky Tonk and Appalachian old-timey and bluegrass and Alt-country into one genre without your head hurting.

  51. 51
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    firefly, thanks for that link. Not listening to much radio these days, I always tend to discover these #1 songs months later. That’s just the sort of thing that would make me cry in the car and feel silly…except, y’know, in a good way.

    Chris Clarke

    Unless you can combine Cajun and Bakersfield Honky Tonk and Appalachian old-timey and bluegrass and Alt-country into one genre without your head hurting.

    Are you suggesting that there’s some kind of difference between Zydeco and Shania Twain? Preposterous!

  52. 52
    erikthebassist

    Chris I’m referring to pop country, you know, the popular stuff. Dixie, bluegrass, cajun, may be derivatives but that’s not what we’re discussing, well at least that’s not what I’m talking about.

  53. 53
    erikthebassist

    Zydeco is good stuff by the way. Don’t sully it by associating it with C & W.

  54. 54
    chigau (違う)

    ffs

  55. 55
    Uncle Ebeneezer

    I’m currently learning a bunch of modern radio country tunes for a tryout on Friday. It’s not my favorite music by any stretch but it’s almost the same as Pop music in most regards. And some of it’s pretty catchy. Fortunately the tunes I’ll be playing fall into the classic hard drinkin’, love my truck kinda lyrics. If they got too into Southern Heritage or even Ra Ra America!! I’d have a real tough time biting my tongue. I look forward to the gigs, which for me will be an interesting chance to see a world much different than what I’m used to.

  56. 56
    Tethys

    All those genres of music fall into the category of folk music, and I enjoy listening to them side by side for comparison purposes. I especially recommend the second link for master musicians and imaginative percussion.

    Gypsy Swing Harmonious Wail
    More Jazz/ Gypsy Swing Harmonious Wail
    Cajun/Zydeco Dewey Balfa

    BluegrassFlatt & Scruggs

    Country music covers a lot of very different artists, from Johnny Cash to this Brad Paisley fellow.

  57. 57
    Uncle Ebeneezer

    Tethys- your second link just leads back here. I was all excited for imaginative percussion! ;)

  58. 58
    Tethys

    Hmm, trying again.Harmonious Wail

  59. 59
    kayden

    @8. Cotton:

    Brad Paisley seems like a cool guy. That’s why I am kind of shocked at the song featured in the post. Not cool. And shame on LL Cool J, who is also a cool guy. They seem confused about what the rebel flag stands for.

    Heard that even Lynyrd Skynyrd briefly considered not waving the rebel flag at their live shows, but changed their minds.

  60. 60
    Tethys

    The amazing things one finds on youtube! A clip of a young Hank Williams singing a duet with an even younger Anita Carter. (sister to June Carter, who married Johnny Cash)
    )I Can’t Help It

    Its pretty damn adorable.

  61. 61
    firefly

    You’re very welcome, Mellow Monkey. If that song doesn’t win Song of the Year at the CMA Awards in November, I may have to go all Kanye West on whomever does win… :)
    .
    I get that anti-popular-country music snobbery from the East Nashville crowd all the time. I never understood why, if people don’t like certain music, they also don’t respect it or the artists who play it.
    .
    Kayden, #59, Brad is indeed a really cool guy. He wrote this song with Lee Thomas Miller who is one of my favorite writers here in town. But this isn’t the first song these guys wrote where I discover some unexamined privilege. On the Skynyrd thing, it’s a shame they decided to pander to their audience instead of use a chance to educate them.
    .
    Uncle Ebeneezer, #55, you’re not having to learn ‘Truck Yeah,’ are you? :)

  62. 62
    Uncle Ebeneezer

    @58 Tethys- Wow!! Very cool. Amazing musicianship and really lovely music. Thanks for sharing that.

  63. 63
    Uncle Ebeneezer

    @Firefly- No it’s not on the list. At least not yet. They do keep adding songs so anything is possible.

    Speaking of trucks, here is a song about trucks by a swamprock band/friend of mine. Warning it is NOT Country, at all ;)

  64. 64
    firefly

    @Uncle Ebeneezer – “crushes road like a 4-wheeled thunderdome” – that’s a pretty cool line. :)

    If you like swampy southern rock, though a little less heavy than that, check out my buddy’s band The Cadillac Three. They signed a major label deal now but hopefully will be able to keep their own sound.

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