Country music has changed a lot over the years, with some suggesting that the heavy emphasis on crossover appeal and the growing stench of wokeness have both become too pervasive for a genre long known for its emphasis on patriotism, not being politically correct, and leaning on traditional gender roles in songs about love, family, and heartache.
While I'll leave the debate on crossover appeal to country music aficionados (I think there are pros and cons to it), one thing I will weigh in on is anything related to Woke, Inc., which brings me to the current topic, which is singer Maren Morris, who in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times confirmed that she is quitting country music.
Who does she blame? Former President Donald Trump and country music fans, most of whom she describes in essence as bigoted, misogynistic, and racist:
It’s not that Morris, 33, has tired of twanging guitars or neatly cornered rhymes, both of which define the tunes that came out Friday, a decade after she moved to Nashville from her native Texas, first to write songs for established country acts such as Tim McGraw and later to sign a major-label record deal of her own. Rather, she says she’s leaving because of what she views as the country music industry’s unwillingness to honestly reckon with its history of racism and misogyny and to open its gates to more women and queer people and people of color.
After the Trump years, people’s biases were on full display. It just revealed who people really were and that they were proud to be misogynistic and racist and homophobic and transphobic. All these things were being celebrated, and it was weirdly dovetailing with this hyper-masculine branch of country music. I call it butt rock.
Morris also complained that there were people who allegedly bought Jason Aldean's "Try That in a Small Town" song and made it a huge hit not because they genuinely loved country music but to "own the libs," which fauxfended her a great deal - a feeling that no doubt had a little something to do with the fact that she and Aldean (and Aldean's wife, Brittany), have had very public wars of words in the past over trans issues:
“Try That in a Small Town” clearly resonated with many listeners.
But I think it’s a last bastion. People are streaming these songs out of spite. It’s not out of true joy or love of the music. It’s to own the libs. And that’s so not what music is intended for. Music is supposed to be the voice of the oppressed — the actual oppressed. And now it’s being used as this really toxic weapon in culture wars.
While Ms. Morris, who has won several music awards during her time in the industry, is indeed walking away from country music, she's not walking away from music altogether. She's currently working "with prolific pop producer Jack Antonoff," which means she's headed over to a genre that has proved to be far more welcoming to woke: pop music.
Country music star John Rich, who in the past has spoken out strongly both in words and music over wokeness, and what he calls the left-wing transformation of the country music industry, had a fitting send-off for Morris on Twitter:
Poor Karen☹️https://t.co/5Rg8g1bySM— John Rich🇺🇸 (@johnrich) September 17, 2023
Don't go away mad, Maren Morris. Just go away.