"When they're runnin' down my country [music], man, they're walkin' on the fightin' side of me."
Merle Haggard's most famous lyric could well be adapted to express the reaction country music fans may have upon reading Joe Heim's latest review in the June 30 Washington Post.
Heim's lead paragraph begins with a drive-by attack on the genre as a whole:
Country music has always had something of an image problem, particularly among people who fancy themselves as progressives. Immigrant-trashing, gay-bashing, race-baiting, women-hating songs aren't hard to find in the country catalogue. Heck, sometimes you can find them all on a single album.
Heim set forward this straw man in order to more effusively praise country artist Brad Paisley as a "forward-thinking" artist in the vein of say the Bush-bashing "Dixie Chicks" for his latest album, "American Saturday Night" which "celebrates cultural diversity, lionizes women, stirringly welcomes a black president and, for good measure, whoops it up about drinkin' and fishin.'"
As a country music fan, it often frosts me to flip open the pages of a newspaper and read snide, left-of-center snark from music reviewers about the right-leaning, patriotic sentiments of country musicians. Toby Keith, in particular, has been a favorite target of liberal journalists, although the tide's been turning a bit of late.
So here's something that might just end up "Shock'n Y'All": CBS "Early Show" co-anchor Hannah Storm praising Keith's patriotism, work ethic, and talent in a September 24 blog post: