the post-chely era

Are Country Music Fans More Willing to Welcome Drug Addicts, Bush Haters, or Lesbians?

There’s a reason you’re quick to associate country music with America’s heartland: that’s where country music stars and country music fans are from and stuff! Not being a country music fan myself (okay, Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” is aces, but that doesn’t count), I decided to ask my friend Charla, a good girl from Arkansas-by-way-of-Louisiana, who I’ve known since grade school when we met at one uneventful summer camp, and who is a country music fan (do not mention the words “Tim McGraw” or “Mindy McCready” to her unless you’re ready to give up an hour of your life), to read with me this Times article about country stars trying to maintain the good graces of their fans. Newspeg: Chely Wright.

There’s McCready, who everyone loved until her drug problem and suicide attempts and sex tape. There’s the Dixie Chicks, who made that comment about George W. Bush, and whose members Emily Robison and Martie Maguire left Natalie Maines behind to start a new project. And of course Chely Wright, who was never that big a deal, but is now on everyone’s mind because she was on the Today show. (Oh, and she told people she likes the ladies.)

The Times‘ Jon Caramanica wonders aloud which of these types of “scandalized” stars have the best chance of wooing their country audiences, but that idea sets up the notion that Wright has already alienated fans by coming out. Which, of course, is true for some fans, but it’s too early to tell whether she’ll be erased from county radio (and if so whether it’s because she’s gay, or because her music isn’t up to snuff). So I asked Charla: Who would you take back?

“Oh I don’t care about that Chely girl being gay,” Charla, who is straight and last month turned 29, again, tells me. “But I never listened to her music before. But I will check it out.” And as for drug using country stars? “Like, whatever, what’s that got to do with Mindy’s music? She’s great. And I’d probably watch her sex tape too.” Fine. How about the two-thirds of the Dixie Chicks starting a new project and hoping country fans don’t remember their bandmate who hated on George W? “[Laughs.] If the album is really really good, they’ll be fine. Otherwise it’ll just give [country music fans] another reason to reject them. But I don’t think some people have gotten over it. Some people, though, are just too stupid to realize Court Yard Hounds is just the Dixie Chicks without Natalie.”

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  • Scottie

    The media is underestimating country music fans. Of course there are always going to be some gay-haters, just like in heavy metal or rap or hip hop. But country music is about real life stories and great melodies and some great vocals (Martina anyone??) And BTW, the two gals from The Dixie Chicks just decided to do a folksy duo album because Natalie wasn’t ready yet. All three are getting back together to do stadium tours this summer.

  • Joe K

    The Country Music Fans themselves I feel don’t care. The Country Music business on the hand will be hard to read. They have always turned a blind eye to suvstance abuse (hell without that and divorce they wouldnt haven’t anything to sing about).
    It is amazing though, how all is forgiven (Dixie Chicks) if they sell albums. All is forgiven as long as you make money for the record producing whores.

  • CaliberGuy

    Country Music fans hear are bing under estimated, yeah there will alsayws be some fains who care, but for the most part they don’t. All they care about is that the song has a good melody, the singer a good voice and it has a good story/or message to it. Country music fans tend to be very forgiving once the spotlight is done being drug out by the media over why they “should not” forgive that person, even if they like the music.

  • Klarth

    I found this amusing, especially what she said about McCready.

    It’s less funny though that the Courtyard Hounds will be hounded by the Dixie Chicks drama. According to an interview somewhere, the sisters said they agreed with Natalie, but were less outspoken about it. So for two reasons it shouldn’t matter. They disliked Bush too, and as I understand it, it’s Natalie that didn’t want to get back in the game. They just wanted to keep making music until then. Like she said, though, if it’s good, it’s good.


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