One of the topics that always comes up when politics and country music are discussed in the same sentence is, “Why is country music so Republican?” And the answer that is always tossed out is, “No, it just seems that way. There are really a lot of country musicians who are Democrats.”
It’s been a hot topic over during the two terms of the current Bush administration, particularly during the Dixie Chicks vs. Toby Keith battle. (And just an aside, and totally apart from any partisan discussion, the Dixie Chicks seem to have dropped entirely off the radar, while Toby Keith just reported an annual income of $48 million. Just some food for thought.)
A few years back, a book came out by Chris Willman, a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly, called Rednecks and Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music exploring the subject. During the same time period, a group of country musicians got together and called themselves the Music Row Democrats. Seeking to show that country music is not exclusively a GOP kind of thing, this group included Bob Titley (a former manager of Brooks & Dunn and a co-founder of Music Row Democrats), Bobby Braddock, Nanci Griffith, John Scott Sherrill, and Darrell Scott. (A lineup like that just kind of underwhelms you, doesn’t it?)
Willman noted that although the members of Music Row Democrats had industry credibility, few were in the limelight. “They have a tough row to hoe in convincing people that country music is really, seriously Democrat friendly.”
So this morning, as I’m getting ready to head to the polls, I get curious about country music and the presidential election right here and right now on Election Day. The perception is still pretty strong that the Republicans have the lion’s share of the country music support, but what’s the reality?
Now, between voting and getting to work on time, I didn’t have a whole heck of a lot of time to put into this, so I turned to the poor man’s Gallup poll, my old friend Mr. Google. I punched in a few different variations of search words and let the old Boolean algorithm go to work.
Trace Adkins, performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the national convention.
Sara Evans, performed at a Ron Paul rally.
Brooks & Dunn’s “Only in America” used in George W. Bush’s campaign… and then played during this years Democratic National Convention for Obama’s acceptance speech. “Seems ironic that the same song Bush used at the Republican Convention last election would be used by Obama and the Democrats now. Very flattering to know our song crossed parties and potentially inspires all Americans,” said Brooks. Brooks & Dunn’s record label reported that permission had neither been sought by nor granted to the Democratic party for the song’s use.
Hank Williams Jr., wrote a song called “The McCain – Palin Tradition” and has appeared at several rallies.
John Rich (of Big and Rich), wrote “Raisin’ McCain” and performed it at the national convention.
Joe the Plumber, the newest star on the country music horizon? (Sarcasm, by the way, in case you couldn’t tell.) This from CMT news, as of Oct. 30. “The man made suddenly famous as Joe the Plumber now seems to be capitalizing on his newfound fame. Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher has signed with a Nashville publicist and manager and is being advised by country artist Aaron Tippin. Bigger plans seem to be afoot for the man elevated to fame by appearances with both presidential candidates. A book is in the works, speaking appearances are planned and word is that he may pursue recording country music. As first reported in a CMT.com blog, Joe the Plumber signed with Nashville PR firm The Press Office on Tippin’s recommendation and then aligned with management firm Bobby Roberts Company.”
Lee Greenwood, performed at a Sarah Palin rally in Reno, Nev.
Kenny Alphin (Big Kenny of Big and Rich), donated to the Obama campaign early in the season.
Toby Keith, spoke to the Associated Press about Obama, “I think he’s the best Democratic candidate we’ve had since Bill Clinton. And that’s coming from a Democrat.”
So there you have it. If you’re ticked off because you know of some country musician’s political endorsement during this election season that didn’t make it on to my list, feel free to e-mail it to me or to post it as a comment to this blog. After you vote.