Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Chely Wright

I completely missed the Chely Wright controversy over Christmas. If you missed it too, click here for the backstory. (Quick synopsis: A mid-level country singer Chely Wright's fan club was caught directing people to pose as military and families of military to promote the singer's pro-military single. But the particulars are fascinating, so read the article.)

So some suspicion was cast on Wright's motivations. Was she really expressing support for our troops, or was her song, "Bumper of My SUV," just a cynical attempt to tap into a surge of pro-military sentiment in the country audience? (If you think this kind of thing doesn't happen, go find John Seabrook's brilliant New Yorker essay "The Money Note.")

Now my colleague Michael Goldfarb has some excellent reporting, including extensive quotes from Wright taken from an interview conducted prior to the controversy. It's still ambiguous, and Goldfarb certainly doesn't reach any conclusions, but it is very, very interesting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cynically or not, country music seems to be the only popular genre aware that there are military people out there. (Part of that is likely their base in the rural community, especially the West and the South.) There are indeed a number of 'pro-military' songs out there; none of them are much more than 'come home safe and sound / I miss you' sorts of songs. Not much political content.

I should mention a song titled 'crazy tragic awful beautiful life' , where the singer talks about the ups and downs of his life. He talks about getting together with his family and sings 'we said a prayer for cousin Michael in Iraq / we're all aware that he might never make it back / we talked about how we missed his stupid jokes / and how he loved to be a soldier more than most.' Now, this song is up-tempo, not sad -- it's just interesting to see how the singer (Darryl Worley) stops, tips his hat to the military and then zooms off to the rest of the song.

There's something to be said about a genre that's aware of both 9/11 and its effects on a country, even though a lot of country music is crap, just like the rest of pop.