Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sorry, Conservatives--When It Comes To Pop Music, You Lose

Music and politics intersect in a couple of current news items. First, National Review has selected "the top 50 conservative rock songs of all time," in a transparent and pathetic attempt to claim retroactive victory in one of the many culture war battles where conservatives have been hopelessly routed.

A number of the songs selected require quite a bit of stretching to be labeled "conservative." For example, is the Beatles' "Taxman" really about "opposition to taxation," as the New York Times summary would have it? The lyrics quote the taxman as saying, "There's one for you, nineteen for me." If National Review wants to enlist the Beatles in a campaign against a 95 percent tax rate, that's okay by me, but I don't think this standard would satisfy Grover Norquist.

Elsewhere in the Times, Kelefa Sanneh disses the Dixie Chicks for their defiance of the conservative country music establishment, saying, "There's a contract that binds country singers to their fans, and the Dixie Chicks have broken it." How so? According to Sanneh, they've violated the unspoken "rules" of the country music "game" by speaking disrespectfully of the fans who have attacked them for criticizing President Bush, using words like "rednecks" to describe them. Sanneh concludes:

The Dixie Chicks are still a joy to hear, and they'll have plenty of fans no matter what. The Nashville game is hard work; it brings out the best in some singers and frustrates others. If the Dixie Chicks don't want to play that game, that's certainly their prerogative. But they might at least acknowledge that they've been playing it for years, and reaping its rewards. And they shouldn't be too surprised if some fans jeer--angry, but also disappointed--as they walk off the court.

The idea seems to be that the Dixie Chicks deserve the boycotting, blacklisting, and verbal attacks they've been getting from conservative country fans because they refuse to suck up to people who send them death threats. It's more of the mainstream media's typical double standard--demanding that liberals respond with civility, meekness, and respect while conservatives fling four-letter epithets and threats of violence. Enough already.

And by the way, the reading line of Time magazine cover story about the Chicks describes their current album as possibly "the best adult pop CD of the year," but then wonders, "Er, will anyone buy it?" Er, last time I checked, it was number one on Amazon. Maybe the Chicks know a little more about how the Nashville game works than Time or Kelefa Sanneh do.

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