There’s Still A Little Country Left
Today, it was announced that Toby Keith would be headlining Trump’s Inauguration Welcome Celebration. Also participating is the singer of America’s second national anthem, Lee Greenwood as well as Tim Rushlow, former lead singer of “Little Texas”, Larry Stewart of “Restless Heart” and Richie McDonald of “Lonestar”.
The Country format will be represented throughout the inauguration festivities. The Randy Rogers band will play the Texas State Society’s Black Tie and Boots inaugural ball and Big & Rich will perform the Great America Alliance’s Inaugural Gala, along with Cowboy Troy. The Powers That Be choosing to highlight country music for this historical event provides a lot of valuable insight into the kind of president Trump will turn out to be.For eight years, Obama has used his time in office to marginalize the country music community, in every way.
Since President Nixon performed on the Opry stage in 1974, it has been the tradition for sitting presidents to visit this storied and uniquely American institution. However, despite General Manger, Pete Fisher’s repeated attempts, Obama refused the open invitation. When the City of Nashville was decimated in the 2010 1000-year flood, Obama ignored the people, refusing even to tour the disaster area. Of the six artists listed on Obama’s Facebook page, not one is country. When he released his Summer 2016 playlist, it was void of anything that could be remotely considered country. In fact, the only time he acted favorably towards the country music community was back in 2012, in the middle of his reelection campaign. During this time, he hosted Country Music night at the White House, made an appearance on the CMT Music Awards, and included seven country songs on the official reelection campaign playlist. David Graham of The Atlantic correctly pointed out:
The president knows he needs to firm up his support among white working-class voters, so country is the second-largest group of songs after soul and R&B. The choices tend to be patriotic, small-town-America-celebrating songs, logically enough. But they show a rather limited taste for and knowledge of all things twang: there are two songs apiece from country-pop crossover stars Sugarland and from Darius Rucker, the former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman who’s remade himself as a Nashville star.
In short, it was nothing but lip service. Obama’s actions were a clear diversion from the attitudes of his predecessors. Bush maintained a deep respect and admiration for country music as an art form. He used his office to venerate these contributors to America’s musical legacy. When National Treasure George Jones passed, Bush even sent Laura to eulogize the Possum.
Obama’s hostility to country music stems from his blatant rejection of American values. Becuase of this discrepancy, he could not enjoy listening to songs that celebrate a love of country, blue collar professions, or the Christian faith. These were things that he could just never relate to or understand. Furthermore, it is a genre associated with middle-American, average folks; people that Obama has used the last eight years to criticize and mock. The rejection of country music was necessary for rejecting the totality of their culture.
To the contrary, Trump’s candidacy has resonated with these people. He takes every opportunity to embrace our military and precisely the kind of American traditions that country music espouses. Therefore, it makes sense he would elevate country musicians to prominent positions within his inauguration program. It is hopeful that this artform will once again be celebrated in our nation’s capital, instead of looked at with gross disdain. As the Grand Ole Opry welcomes a new General Manager, it is my hope that an invitation to attend the Opry will be swiftly delivered to Trump and he will accept, keeping with the precedence set by Nixon. Once again, the common people will be heard and their music will receive the recognition it deserves.