Friday, December 24, 2004
They Can't Do This To Us Here In Nashville! Let's Show Them What We're Made Of -- Come On, Everybody, Sing! Somebody, Sing!
For the record: I support our troops. My fellow liberals and progressives support the troops. Those troops have given their oaths and their lives to defend our country, for which we thank them profoundly.
We think supporting the troops includes giving them enough freakin' equipment to defend themselves. We think supporting the troops includes wanting them to come home safely, as soon as possible.
We don't support the policies those troops are upholding. We think that the war in Iraq is illegal, unjustifiable, hideously expensive, and politically disastrous. It has made the world a much more dangerous place, and there's no end in sight.
I say all this in preface because I'm about to trash a country-and-western hit.
Chely Wright, best known for the 1999 hit "Single White Female", has a Billboard Top 100 hit, "The Bumper Of My S.U.V.", about an incident that happened to her (and I have no reason to doubt her):
About a year-and-a-half ago, Wright -- an established singer and performer -- was driving the Nashville streets when a motorist in a minivan behind her noticed the Marine Corps sticker on her bumper. Wright's brother is a Marine who sent her the sticker before he shipped off to Iraq.
The agitated woman began honking, swerving and flicking her lights. "I look in the rear view, and she's flipping me the bird, hard," Wright says. "I thought I cut her off, because I'm a really bad driver."
When the woman finally pulled up next to Wright and motioned for her to roll down her window, she gave the artist an earful of opinions about the war in Iraq.
"Your war is wrong," Wright remembers the woman screaming at her. "You're a baby killer."
She went home and immediately wrote a song about the incident, "The Bumper of My S.U.V." She put a demo of the song on tape, then tucked the tape in a drawer and promptly forgot about it.
"Obviously, I didn't mean for it to be a single because it's 4 1/2 minutes," she notes. "I just wrote the song to get it out of me."
So far, so good. Crazy woman, song inspiration. The only part of this I don't buy is the last paragraph -- not because I think Wright is more calculating about that than she lets on (more in a minute), but because, as a songwriter, I have always found that songs have a natural length, and if you have what you think is a good song you will find a way to get it to your audience, no matter how long the darn thing is.
Which is, in fact, what Wright did. She used her concerts and appearances. She used the Internet.
And, apparently, she used people lying about being associated with the military.
Seventeen members of a handpicked team of fans contacted radio stations around the country asking for more airplay for Wright's pro-military ballad, The Bumper of My SUV. It was all part of an organized campaign by leaders of the fan club who encouraged the team to do such things as ''tell 'em your husband is a marine — whatever it takes.''
After Wright learned that The Tennessean intended to publish an article about the campaign in today's newspaper, she issued a statement saying that she had dismissed Chuck Walter, a longtime friend who has headed her fan club since 1996.
Wright said she was ''shocked, saddened and deeply upset by this unethical behavior.'' She said Walter was ''an unpaid volunteer who acted without my knowledge or direction.''
In an interview a day earlier, Wright had described Walter as ''my best friend. We talk all the time, about everything.''[...]
Hoffpauir said she was given a prepaid calling card and instructions on how to mask calls by hitting a code on her telephone keypad so radio stations wouldn't know she was calling from out of state.
''They also gave us tips on how to be more successful with DJs, so we didn't get caught. If you were calling Seattle, let's say, you'd go to Map Quest, find the address of a Home Depot and tell the DJ you worked there, little tricks,'' Hoffpauir said.
On Oct. 25, ''Chuck'' suggested fans log on to military message boards and talk up the song. ''You can also fib a little and say you are in the armed forces and how this song needs to be heard — u get the picture,'' he wrote.
A separate e-mail to team members from Constantine contained a message that Hoffpauir said was forwarded from Walter. It said: ''I think with the Texas stations we should say — I am a Marine or Navy and so on, and tell the station they know of the song and in honor of them they should play it — it's worth a try.'' The e-mail is dated Dec. 14.
An Oct. 25 e-mail to ''special mission team'' from ''Sharon'' said, ''Remember this is a small group of special people, and as you know it has to be between us and only us (of course Chuck and Chely know LOL). We can't tell a soul outside of our family, so radio doesn't catch on.''
Y'know, I've got a problem just with all those stupid yellow-ribbon "support our troops" decals and magnets on the backs of cars (quite often S.U.V.s). They're the Dubya Era version of "sacrifice". The only thing they "support" is the decal company.
But a nationwide campaign of lies, using people who are risking and giving their lives, just to get airplay for a song!?
Thanks to Jim Henley's Unqualified Offerings, where I found out about this story.
Give me a dollar.
Give me a dollar.
I don't even buy her story. "Baby Killer" is a very Vietnam-era insult.
Thanks for the heads up. Modern country makes me physically ill, but I had no idea truly how ideological it had become until the 9/11 songs and the Dixie Chicks flap. Toby Keith can f*** himself. Or go and enlist.