Thursday, August 11, 2005

This One Gets My Goat

I know, there are more important issues out there. In a world where a president lied to send ill-equipped troops to invade a country that posed no threat to ours, why should I worry about a parade? In a world where our ambassador to the United Nations has the delicacy and tact (but not the humor) of The Rude Pundit, why should I focus on Clint Black? In a world where Bush's tax policies are helping the rich get richer and while the poor are getting poorer, why should I complain about a free concert?

I guess it's just a matter of taste. On September 11, 2005, Rumsfeld has announced that some of our military dollars will be diverted from the Struggle Against Terror Program Related Activities (or whatever they're calling it now) to the also-awkwardly named "America Supports You Freedom Walk" (not "your" freedom, mind you). The walk will go from the Pentagon to the National Mall. When they get to the National Mall, the crowd will be treated to a concert by Clint Black.

Clint Black. Now, why in the world would we have a country music performer for what is supposed to be "that allows citizens the opportunity to remember the victims of September 11, honor our veterans past and present, and celebrate our freedom." Why Country music??

Despite what Rumsfeld, Bush, and other old Texans may believe, Country music is simply not popular. According to the charts, Country accounts for only 10.4% of music sales, down by a third since 1993. Rock accounts for 25.2%, so why can't we have Bruce Springsteen, a performer with credibility in New York, grab the microphone? (I think we know why, though this isn't supposed to be a partisan event.) Rap/Hip-Hop has 13.3% of the market, followed by "R&B/Urban" at 10.6%. I'm not sure where the bright line is that separates these genres, but, either way, the black audience has two categories that beat the Country genre, and the troops we are supposedly supporting are disproportionately black. So, let's replace Clint Black with a little black - maybe Usher will be available, or Dr. Dre.

But, no, the real America is not what Bush wants to see on his lawn. Instead, he wants to see a narrow demographic of white, rural, lower middle class red-staters. While I am not implying that all Country music lovers are rednecks (even I have some Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson and Jimmy Dale Gilmore on my iPod), but you can be pretty sure that 99% of rednecks are Country music lovers. And that's the group that Bush is inviting to DC on the anniversary of the day that New York and Washington were attacked.


Blogger Brian Stayton said...

Funny point. I didn't try your links to the stats, especially about the numbers of blacks to whites in the military, but I keep seeing a bunch of articles about how well military recruiters are doing in the midwest. Especially when contrasted to urban areas. NPR recently did a segment from Missouri -- Springfield?
Perhaps the selection of Clint Black isn't so much to support current military personnel, but more to help find new recruits in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, etc.

8/15/2005 7:15 AM  
Blogger joe said...

Good points. If they're going country, I'd like to see Johnny Cash. Even black folks like him. Plus, I'd be curious to know his stance on Iraq.

8/15/2005 7:53 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe - I hope you're sitting down. I've got some really bad news for you . . .

8/15/2005 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Andrea said...

Sadly, there's nothing more red, white and blue than country music. Look at what happened to the Dixie Chicks -- they spoke out against Bush (and they really didn't say anything that major) and people flipped out. Mainstream country music is they only type of music where every musician is expected to be blindly patriotic.

So of course they want to play it safe and find someone who won't say anything inflammatory. Someone from rock or rap might speak out against Bush and the war. And we can't have that!

8/15/2005 9:07 AM  
Blogger Faith Works said...

See, Occam's Razor. What is the simplest explanation? Our cowboy hat wearing president may like to listen to Clint Black. I doubt our Commander in Chief listens to Fifty Cent or even DMB. We all know Springsteen wouldn't do the gig for any amount of money.

Regrettably, Johnny Cash will be unable to perform, but he has a lot in common with some of the young men who went to Iraq.

8/15/2005 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't a "country music concert", it's a Clint Black concert. And my understanding--I don't know much about him or about country music more generally--is that he sells more albums than Bruce Springsteen does. (Can you imagine being asked whether you'd like to go to a rock and roll concert? I think I'd want to know who was playing, since most rock music isn't something I'm interested in. Justin Timberlake just isn't for me.)

I find it odd that you think that Springsteen has "credibility" in NY. With whom? Eric Alterman? I mean, I know a lot of NYers, and I don't think any of them are Springsteen fans. (I'm more of a fan than they are--I own Nebraska, and they've never listened to him.) And why would it matter what NYers think? Are they uniquely honored in this march?

Also, I don't think it's accurate to describe the audience for rap/hip hop as "black." To the contrary. And this may surprise you, but not all of the artists in the rap/hip hop genre are black.

8/16/2005 12:16 AM  
Blogger pomegranate said...

I'm going to recommend "Gunner Palace" again. I wouldn't say I've been living in a cave but my eyes are definitely open now, along with my heart. (end sap now) I wish some of their freestyle could be included for that concert.

Andrea makes a really good point.


Man, I hope Joe knows...

8/16/2005 2:49 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous (why are all the wankers who post comments on my blog "anonymous"? It might help if they at least gave themselves nicknames, like anonymous1 or countryclubanonymous . . .)

You must be kidding. First off, saying it's not a country concert - what?? Was the Elvis Costello concert I went to a couple weeks ago not a rock concert?

As for Bruce's NYC credibility - come on. He comes from Jersey, and the Boss has sold-out the Meadowlands 44 times (and Giants stadium 16 times). If Clint Black has ever played either, I'm sure tickets are still available. At a discount.

And, as for NYC having a special claim to September 11, just think about it. Go ahead, take your time.

Finally, I'm impressed you know that not all rap/hip hop fans or artists are black. And not all country performers and fans are white, either. But that's the way to bet.

8/16/2005 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Jethro Tull concert and an Elvis Costello concert are both "rock" concerts, and an Old 97s concert and a Clint Black concert are both "country" concerts. I don't think the labels tell us much useful there, but you're free to disagree. I know I'd go to one of those rock concerts and one of those country concerts, and not the others.

Yes, Springsteen plays well in NJ. And Garth Brooks, as I recall, had 750,000 show up to watch him in Central Park. Neither is NY--no hipster would ever be found anywhere near either, not even to be ironic.

I'm thinking about NY's "special claim" to 9/11, but I can't get past the fact that this walk--which has got you so upset--begins at the Pentagon, hit by a plane on 9/11. Those unfortunate souls are written out of your account.

I don't think you're right when you suggest that most rap/hip hop fans are black. To the contrary, my understanding--and my google skills are slipping, because I can't quickly find it--is that more than half of the rap/hip hop albums sold are sold to whites. It's true that most blacks are rap/hip hop fans, but it isn't true that most rap/hip hop fans are black. Eminem, anyone?

8/16/2005 10:32 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous -

Okay, I guess we're getting closer to agreement - you now agree that this is a "country music concert". That's progress. You still don't acknowledge that Springsteen is a bigger draw in NYC than Clint Black, but so be it. And you are correct that lots of white kids are listening to rap/hip-hop.

My fundamental point, though, is that the Bush administration is taking 9/11, making a political rally of it and, by using a performer from the Country genre, assigning our nation's observance to the falsely patriotic, unthinking fringe element that comprises much of Country's audience.

8/17/2005 6:48 AM  
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8/18/2005 6:35 AM  

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