NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Nobody Asked Me, But …

It's Country Music-Bashing Time in Newspaper Land

(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/ Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)

Nobody asked me, but am I the only one growing a little weary of country music-bashing by nitwit newspaper columnists and television talking heads? This time of year, lazy newspaper columnists re-circulate a list of country song titles (sometimes labeling them “country & western”) and have a high old time making fun of the country bumpkins. The message — always — is that country music and country artists and country fans are dim-witted objects of ridicule.

The latest list being circulated comes from the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. And it’s very obvious that the columnist doesn’t know country music. His list of “this year’s crop” of song titles includes “Refried Dreams.” That came out in 1995, for your information, Mr. Columbus Dispatch columnist. And the classic “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” was written by that famous country songwriter Sting — a bit of information the columnist doesn’t seem to know. And it came out in 1998. And Joe Ely’s “Musta Notta Gotta Lotta” dates back to 1981. THAT IS 23 YEARS AGO. “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud, Loud Music” last charted in 1985. And on and on.

Mr. Columbus Dispatch also doesn’t seem to know or recognize humor or irony. If he had ever actually heard Alan Jackson’s “Three Minute Positive Not Too Country Up-Tempo Love Song,” he would know the song’s context and appreciate the humor inherent therein. And would recall that it was released in 2000.

There are bad country song titles, just as there are bad rock song titles, bad pop song titles, bad rap song titles and bad hip-hop song titles. Why don’t we ever read a newspaper column that makes fun of bad rap or hip-hop song titles, such as “F*** Tha Police,” “P.I.M.P.,” “Dog S***,” “One Less Bitch,” “Big Ole Butt,” “Me and My Bitch,” “Just Don’t Give A F***,” “Bitches Ain’t S***,” “What These Bitches Want,” “Big Booty Hoes,” “Ho” or “I Miss That Bitch”?

Why? Because that would be considered racist. With good reason, the public would be quick to denounce such a column. It’s perfectly appropriate, though, to dump abuse on country fans. Political correctness works in funny ways in this nation. And let’s not even get started on the state of journalism.

You know, it wasn’t that long ago that country musicians couldn’t get telephones installed in their houses in Nashville because they were considered too unreliable and thought to be poor credit risks. And I can remember encountering considerable initial resentment in the greater pop and rock music establishment when I began introducing country music coverage into the pages of Rolling Stone in the 1970s. So maybe it’s progress when lazy newspaper columnists are the biggest bone of contention. But it still ****** me off.