Griffs Notes 2/12/07

Was it about the music or the politics? Every great performance, from The Police to Mary J. Blige, kept getting upstaged by yet another award for Country Music’s controversial Bush Haters.

Last night’s 5 Grammy sweep by the Dixie Chicks not only marks the comeback of the talented (turned political) country trio but also the end of great music for music’s sake.

The Chicks’ downward spiral began in 2003 when lead singer Natalie Maines took a swipe at President Bush while they were on tour in Europe, saying she was ashamed to come from the same state. It’s too bad she didn’t add a boycott on deer hunting on top of the Bush bashing and we all could have been spared the gross redemption at last night’s fete. Nonetheless, it was the Dixie Chicks’ night to bask in the recording academy’s glow. And having suffered through lagging sales and nixed radio play, they did it with the utmost insincerity.

In accepting the Album of the Year, Maines told the crowd, “I’m ready to make nice” – clearly a statement of self-importance and vindication. Then she continued saying, “I think people are using their freedom of speech with all these awards… We get the message!” And at another point in the night, she simply quoted Homer Simpson.

No one argues that the national sentiment about President Bush and the war in Iraq has dramatically and negatively changed since 2003. And there’s nothing wrong with an artist expressing his or her feelings about social and political issues. After all, the artist community is rooted in freedom of expression – political or otherwise.

But I draw the line when performing artists move beyond entertaining us and use that platform to launch personal soapbox attacks. I felt sorry for the other talented musicians there last night blatantly trumped by the Grammy’s overzealous endorsement of the Chicks’ anti-Bush fervor.

Natalie Maines has more musical talent in the tip of her pinky finger than I’ll ever have in my lifetime. And I’ll even confess to liking several of her songs in the past. But why does our appreciation – or the Recording Academy’s Judges for that matter – have to become an active political statement?

Country Album of the Year? Most likely, yes. Album, Record, Song and Country Album of the Year? Gimme a break!

I’m working on new song: Mommas Don’t Let Their Babies Grow Up To Be Vindictive Country Singers. Think they’ll like it?

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