"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wWednesday, September 22, 2004

NEW NEW COUNTRY: As the logo indicates, I have a piece in today's Los Angeles Times about Gretchen Wilson's debut album and what the reception could mean for country music, and for its audience:

There's an old joke about country music. Pick a song at random and play it backward. You get your house back, your kids back, your wife back, your truck back.

Though the music became somewhat sunnier in the last decade, as "new country" stations tried to expand the genre, the core audience remained white, rural, poor, largely Southern and Midwestern: the sort of hard-luck, salt-of-the-earth types that the singers go on about.

Country artists operate in a universe parallel to the rest of the entertainment industry. Their mecca is Nashville, not Hollywood, and their audience is decidedly more "red state." At this year's Republican convention, the two types of entertainers that the organizers tapped in great numbers were country singers and evangelical Christian artists. Mainstream rockers routinely go on anti-George W. Bush rants to kill time between sets and put together lousy anti-Bush compilation CDs. When the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines made some off-the-cuff remarks about the president, country stations took the group out of their rotations.

Because music tells us something about how an audience sees itself, it's worth looking at the hottest new act. Since its May release, Gretchen Wilson's debut album, "Here for the Party," has dominated the country charts. So far, fans have bought more than 2 million copies.

[annoying registration required to see the rest of it, but at least it's free]

posted by Jeremy at 9:48 AM