Iraq

Some Squirrelly Guy Who Claims that He Just Don't Believe in Fightin'

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In this week's Village Voice, Chuck Eddy offers a spirited revisionist defense of the much-maligned (by liberals, anyway) country star Toby Keith. As you might recall, Keith topped the charts in 2002 with "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue," a patriotic ditty that promised terrorists and other malfeasants, "we'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way." While I can't say that I've ever cared for Keith's music, his feud with the self-important Dixie Chicks was fun to watch. And as reason contributing editor Charles Oliver noticed back in 2003, the famously pugnacious Keith was an Iraq War skeptic from the start.

Here's Eddy on why Keith is more than just a right-wing shock jock:

That handful of songs (a couple of which appeared on a surprisingly funky 2003 album entitled Shock'n Y'All, har har) is pretty much where Toby's editorializing ends, at least on record. His output is no more limited by his war-machine anthem than Merle Haggard's was by the comparably opportunistic "Okie From Muskogee" and "The Fightin' Side of Me" when Nixon was president. And not many country artists since Merle have managed a creative streak like Toby's these past few years-in fact, to my ears, his '00s output (six albums plus change, including half of 2006's Broken Bridges soundtrack and a few spare tracks collected on his new 35 Biggest Hits) just might stand up to anybody else's this decade, in any musical genre.

That's a bold statement. But the comparison to Hag makes sense. Read the rest of Eddy's article here. For the definitive take on the tangled politics of country music, however, look no further than reason's own Jesse Walker.

NEXT: The Making of the Libertarian Nomination: 2008

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  1. One of the best artist out there today, period.

  2. As far as I know, Haggard’s most recent song commenting on the Iraq War is “That’s The News”, which takes the not-so-controversial position of being pro-soldier, anti-politiician: “Politicians do all the talkin’: soldiers pay the dues.”

  3. But Neil, what about Kid Rock?

  4. One of the best artist out there today, period.

    Yeah, cause it’s really challenging to play 1-5-4 chord progressions over and over again at the same tempo. Whine about trucks and dogs and whiskey on top, and you’ve got yourself “one of the best artists out there.”

    Out there in Deaf-land…

  5. I don’t listen to the Dixie Chicks. I don’t like cuntry music.

  6. Dixie Chicks = traitors, period.

    Nobody should insult our President in a foreign country in a time of war.

  7. President Bush sucks.

  8. Dixie Chicks = traitors, period.

    Nobody should insult our President in a foreign country in a time of war.

    Are you actually a real person?

  9. Pro you’re free to say that, just not in a foreign capital. That would be in bad taste.

    Remember: Politics stops at the water’s edge.

  10. Nobody should insult our President in a foreign country in a time of war.

    According to our current president the war on terror is unending. Does that mean nobody can ever insult our president?

  11. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Go fuck yourself Neil.

  12. I get annoyed how the Dixie Chicks are made out by liberals to be people resembling in any way martyrs.

    Sure, they where bullied (not censored, for God’s sake) for speaking their beliefs, but let’s not pretend that their music was any good before or after their comments.

  13. Neil, calm down.
    “Traitor” is a pretty strong word. I normally reserve it for people who blindly support a president and his policies based on nothing more than a capital R.

  14. Politics stops at the water’s edge.

    …Unless the politicians have crossed the water and are fouling up other countries on our dime. You use my dollar I have a voice in your enterprise. Simple.

  15. I fear that these Intertubials may have broadcast my message across the globe.

    I’m actually all for not letting people outside of the family know what I’m thinking, but it’s hard for me to get upset at some silly entertainers’ words. Besides, “treason” requires an overt act.

  16. Not in a foreign country jj. Not in a foreign country.

    If Barack Hussein Obama becomes President, I will bite my tongue when out of the country out of respect for the office and our Commander-in-Chief.

  17. Bad Taste != Treason

  18. Remember: Politics stops at the water’s edge.

    Well, no wonder I can’t get Rush when I’m sailing.

  19. Can I insult Congress while overseas? What about the Supreme Court? Is it treasonous to criticize potential presidents, or only actual presidents? What if I just insult American citizens who don’t hold high office?

  20. I’m actually all for not letting people outside of the family know what I’m thinking, but it’s hard for me to get upset at some silly entertainers’ words. Besides, “treason” requires an overt act.

    Overt act? Hmm, like leading a country to war with lies, falsified evidence, and playing of fears of death?

    That’s a pretty good example, IMHO…

  21. Can I insult Congress while overseas?

    Only if you use irony.

    What about the Supreme Court?

    Yes, if the insult is in the form of a limerick.

    Is it treasonous to criticize potential presidents

    No, provided the criticism is only a mild rebuke, followed by a wry smile.

    What if I just insult American citizens who don’t hold high office?

    Only if you follow it up with “…NOT.”

  22. Hey, by the way, does anyone know what Obama’s middle name is?

    I can’t find it anywhere…

  23. One of the best artist out there today, period.

    Sort of like whoever plays “Neil” on the Internet.

  24. What about allies? Can I mock Canada?

  25. I get annoyed how the Dixie Chicks are made out by liberals to be people resembling in any way martyrs.

    Sure, they where bullied (not censored, for God’s sake) for speaking their beliefs, but let’s not pretend that their music was any good before or after their comments.

    Yes. This needed to be said. They’re also chubbies. If they were hot like chick groups are supposed to be, I’d be more forgiving.

  26. Pro L all those are fine to insult.

    You can even insult the President in a time of peace.

    But in war, respect your Commander-in-Chief when visitng foreign countries. Project an image of American STRENGTH and UNITY.

  27. Can I mock Canada?

    It’s required actually.

  28. Can I mock Canada?

    America Jr. mocks itself.

  29. But in war, respect your Commander-in-Chief when visitng foreign countries. Project an image of American STRENGTH and UNITY.

    Either your comedy routine is falling flat, or you are total fucking dick.

  30. What made The Dixie Chicks really tacky is that they didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to talk trash about GWB here in the US where they would have offended their core audience.

    Like every other ‘principled’ entertainer, principles end when it begins to affect the cashflow.

    And once the fit hit the shan it was apparent that they were right.

    Then, the cheeseballs, whine about ‘censorship’ after the media picks up the story and the people who used to buy their records and the stations that used to play their records say fuck you, babe.

    Cuz it is free speech to diss the prez but it is not free speech to diss the Dixie Chicks.

  31. @ Pro Libertate

    Canada isn’t our ally. They’re just politely biding their time?

  32. Project an image of American STRENGTH and UNITY.

    Even if the reality is DISHONESTY and STUPIDITY.

  33. Whine about trucks and dogs and whiskey on top, and you’ve got yourself “one of the best artists out there.”

    You forgot “momma” and trains.

    Did you fail Hank Jr. 101 or something?

  34. BTW, I like Toby Keith’s music. It’s funny, clever, and the videos make me LOL. And the vid with Heather Locklear makes you realize that she cleans up pretty well.

    Course, as NoStar once pointed out, you really can’t sleep with anyone who’s done Tommy Lee.

  35. Sure, they where bullied (not censored, for God’s sake) for speaking their beliefs, but let’s not pretend that their music was any good before or after their comments.

    You’re certainly welcome to your own opinion about the Dixie Chicks’ music. But asking everyone else to “not pretend” about their music quality is a bit misguided, because the consensus on the group’s catalog has been largely glowing over the years, among both critics and the public.

    It’s one thing to say “let’s not pretend William Hung’s music is good,” because it’s clear Hung is not widely regarded as good. It’s another to say it about acts whose work IS widely regarded as good.

    I’m no major Dixie Chicks devotee, but I know the conventional wisdom when I see it. Methinks you just have a faulty cultural barometer.

  36. I still like the Dixie Chicks (if you can listen to Traveling Soldier and not get a little misty eyed, you are far more hard-hearted than I). OTOH, I don’t believe that musicians have any especially deep political insight, even if they believe they do – something which I personally blame on the Baby Boomers. Buncha self-important hypocritical jerks? [mumbles to self as he walks away]

  37. Last I checked, the first amendment doesn’t have any clause saying it doesn’t apply in a foreign country.

    If you believe your government is criminal, I believe you have a moral obligation to point it out, no matter what country you’re in… or would you say it was treasonous of Soviet dissidents to criticize the Soviet govt when they were abroad? I’d say those dissidents were patriotic Russians who supported their country by criticizing their government.

    Granted, the USA is not the USSR, but I do believe that the same moral rules apply.

  38. This insult debate is silly. You can go out and say any crazy crap you like, just don’t come back crying when nobody wants to play your music after you do it.

  39. One of the best artist out there today, period.

    Neil, Toby Keith or this guy (Dennis Mandalone)

  40. You can even insult the President in a time of peace.

    Thanks for the permission…

    But in war, respect your Commander-in-Chief when visitng[sic] foreign countries. Project an image of American STRENGTH and UNITY.

    Of course, because an unkind word in regard to the U.S., uttered by the great Taktix?, could cause galaxies to collapse upon themselves.

  41. Oh, and what are the Dixie Chicks whining about anyway? A few radio stations dd not play their music for a while because they got flooded with calls to never play them again whenever one of their songs was played.

    Does not sound like it has hurt their sales.

    It DOES sound like a bunch of baseless extreamist fabrication to get a check in the victim block. Kinda like the Burchites in a different catagory.

  42. Of course, because an unkind word in regard to the U.S., uttered by the great Taktix?, could cause galaxies to collapse upon themselves.

    So what is your theory on the Bo?tes void? you are messing mine up right now.

  43. They’re known around these parts as the Chicks with Dixie

  44. I can’t stand country music and therefore have zero interest in it, but I get the impression that the powers-that-be (ie, Music Row) in the country music industry used this as an excuse to turn on the Dixie Chicks. They’re a little too Lilith Fair for the Grand Ole Opry set, but their popularity gave them enough clout to get by for a while. Tells all of the other country musicians out there that this is what we can do to you if you step out of line.

    Johnny Cash could have said the exact same things and gotten away with it.

  45. MM,

    Yea, if you don’t know anything about it you could read some of the comments above, like how their sales have continued to increase in spite of their airplay declining. If “Music Row” was against them, they would be pressing all those records in their garage instead of having a record company produce, press and market their stuff.

    Oh, and Johnny Cash did have a big beef with the Nashville folks on the production and promotion of one of his last albums, resulting in a full page ad in an industry publication featuring him giving “the finger” to the Nashville music powers-that-be.

  46. BTW, I have little interest in country music either, but when certain artists come up I pay attention.

    I do watch that Canadian chick with the sound off, that Twain girl. Same with Laurie Morgan.

  47. his ’00s output (six albums plus change […]) just might stand up to anybody else’s this decade, in any musical genre.

    Frank Zappa has released 14 albums in the ’00s, and he’s been dead the entire decade.

    So, nyah-nyah-nyah!

  48. The Simpsons hasn’t really been good for eight or so years, but they did make me laugh when they had the Toby Keith parody song that ended with “If you don’t buy my album, Al Qaeda wins.” I’ll take that over anything Keith himself actually wrote.

  49. Toby Keith wishes he was C.S. Lewis Jr.

  50. Frank Zappa has released 14 albums in the ’00s, and he’s been dead the entire decade.

    Is that more than Hendrix?

  51. come on, regardless of their political views, the dixie chicks are american idol-level country music.

    plus they seem to have essentially stolen their name from little feat, which is unforgiveable!

  52. Project an image of American STRENGTH and UNITY.

    I’ve thought since some of your earliest posts started appearing on threads here that you were a Colbert-esque spoof of a conservative wingnut, so I assume you want to be funny. Sometimes you are, but usually not. But that quote above was great. I hate to use internet acronyms, but that made me LOL.

    I think it’s mostly the capital letters that make me like it so much. I approve.

  53. niel is a troll
    Country music sucks

    Is it possible to state anything more obvious than the above?

  54. Me personally, I don’t buy into the lore that is “chicks with dicks”, but far be it from me to burst anyone else’s bubble of illusion.

    And I never heard anything about any of them saying bad things about the President. But I wouldn’t blame one if he did.

  55. The great thing about country music is that you can think of the silliest, most ridiculous, most insulting parody of country music you can and next thing you know, it’s a hit song from a major country artist.

  56. This all reminds me of the Futurama episode where Zoidberg eats the flag, and they have a country singer singing “Don’t Mess With Earth” and it turns out he’s the President of the ACLU.

  57. come on, regardless of their political views, the dixie chicks are american idol-level country music.

    Another commenter with little grasp of the Dixie Chicks’ music. There’s plenty of “American Idol”-level country music out there, for sure, but the Dixie Chicks haven’t really been part of it.

    Was there a pop shine to their early breakout hits? Absolutely. Was it a bunch of plastic, over-sung, cheese-laden gunk? Definitely not. The very reason the Dixie Chicks stood out when they emerged in the late ’90s is that they were a genuine band integrating genuine, traditional country sounds. They were a REACTION to the mind-numbing sonic gloss that had overtaken Nashville — not part of it.

    I’m not saying the Dixie Chicks were the second coming of the Carter Family. But they most certainly weren’t regarded as little Shania Twainettes. They swum against that stream.

    This isn’t just my personal take or something. It’s the common assessment of people who pay attention to this stuff for a living.

  58. I would point out that the post is claiming that Toby’s musical output is of higher or equal quality to any other artist in any genre in the 00’s, so the Zappa output is a red herring (or right on target, I guess…if those albums are of high quality).

    Given the amazing volume of seriously excellent music released this decade, I have trouble believing that Mr. Root knows anything about other genres of music, or even much about country music outside of the top 40.

  59. That should have been aimed at Mr. Eddy, of course.

  60. Compare Toby to the output of this man, for instance…

    http://www.tomwaits.com/

    And that ain’t even digging.

    Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson’s output is better within the same genre.

  61. Wow, I actually used the past participle “swum” in my post above. I guess if they HAD swum, then OK. As it is, they swam.

  62. Natalie Maines can sing, no doubt. The Chicks are above “idol level.”

    Toby Keith is certainly not offensive, but he can’t hold a candle to Dwight Yoakam.

  63. I agree, Dwight Yoakam is better than Toby, as is

    http://www.steveearle.com/

  64. # 2000 – American III: Solitary Man
    # 2002 – American IV: The Man Comes Around Platinum album
    # 2003 – Unearthed Gold album
    # 2004 – My Mother’s Hymn Book
    # 2006 – American V: A Hundred Highways Gold album

    Or

  65. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/40_Greatest_Men_of_Country_Music

    #36 has the best output of anyone in any genre?

    And an equal number of songs on this list to the Dixie Chicks

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CMT%27s_100_Greatest_Songs_in_Country_Music

  66. The very reason the Dixie Chicks stood out when they emerged in the late ’90s is that they were a genuine band integrating genuine, traditional country sounds. They were a REACTION to the mind-numbing sonic gloss that had overtaken Nashville — not part of it.

    They were a hell of a lot closer to country than most of the jackass “country” musicians who ganged up on them, including Toby Keith: who. still. sucks.

  67. What a great way to waste time that was…

    Off to listen to some 1970’s afrofunk…

    http://www.myspace.com/analogafrica

  68. http://www.discourse.net/archives/2008/05/side_benefit_of_the_transparent_society.html

    An interesting music related item for the libertarian set…

    Unable to afford to make their own music video the band set up and performed their music in front of 80 of the 1,300 CCTV cameras used by British state security – one camera was even on a bus?

    Now comes the good part: the band used the UK Data Protection Act – that’s the UK equivalent of US reader’s access to information laws – to request all the footage the state collected of them?

    And then they turned the footage into a music video.

  69. Yeah, like since when did being hawkish on foreign policy automatically get one labeled as being supportive of every possible military action and intervention?

  70. To my ears, a lot of country artists have managed a creative streak comparable to old Tobe’s, BECAUSE THEY ALL SOUND EXACTLY THE SAME! I once bought a George Jones album while “researching” a novel. Reader, I almost died.

  71. Yeah, like since when did being hawkish on foreign policy automatically get one labeled as being supportive of every possible military action and intervention?

    Since, and as long as, a Republican is in the White House?

  72. It’s always funny to watch people bash on a musical genre they don’t like. You can take most of the rants, swap out “country” with “rap” or “death metal”, and post them on the appropriate message boards. No one would notice.

    Rock & Roll, Blues, and Country are a lot more closely entwined than a lot of people would care to admit.

  73. Jammer,

    Today’s “country” is yesterday’s “Southern Rock.”

    Rock-n-Roll was a term coined to cover a hybrid of country, and R&B…

    Much of the punk rock of the 70’s & 80’s was closer to 50’s country than rock.

    And then there’s the difficulty of Rockabilly.

    Is it a genre of country or rock?

    And where the hell do you place Western Swing? Is it jazz?

    IOW, you are correct.

  74. Today’s “country” is yesterday’s “Southern Rock.”

    Except that it dispenses with most of the blues elements that made Southern Rock (esp. the Allman Bros. Band) good.

  75. Since, and as long as, a Republican is in the White House?

    So what you’re saying is, there’s no logic to the presumption whatsoever.

  76. xcept that it dispenses with most of the blues elements

    and the Satanism:

    Black Oak Arkansas did the whole “natas, natas, Dog is eh” backwards message thing live…

    http://www.eeggs.com/items/20039.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsX760htc6c

  77. Salvius-

    Frank Zappa has released 14 albums in the ’00s, and he’s been dead the entire decade.

    Which puts him 3-4 behind Tupac, and just in front of Bono.

  78. Country music ain’t only from this country…

    http://combandrazor.blogspot.com/search/label/Emma%20Ogosi

    Emma Ogosi from Nigeria

  79. smacky-

    Me personally, I don’t buy into the lore that is “chicks with dicks”

    Need a link? :o)

  80. You forgot “momma” and trains.

    Did you fail Hank Jr. 101 or something?

    You mean David Allan Coe… but they both rock.

  81. You mean David Allan Coe… but they both rock.

    [kicks pebble] er, um, yea I meant that guy [sulks away]

  82. Fletch,

    No, I know what men who are shaved and wearing lots of makeup look like. Thanks anyway, though!

  83. Anyone who tells the Dixie Chicks to shut the fuck up deserves something. Christ, only in America can you claim you are being silenced while appearing nude on a magazine cover.
    And for god’s sake, when the fuck is someone going to tell Natalie Maines she has the face of a fucking chihuaha. Every time I see that ugly bitch posing for the camera likes she Christy Turlington, it makes me want to fucking puke.

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