October 10, 2004


Recording artists stage a musical uprising (JIM DEROGATIS, 10/10/04, Chicago Sun-Times)

In the past few months, rock, rap, pop and even some country artists have launched an extraordinary number of voter-registration drives and anti-Bush tours, compilation albums and awareness-raising events. And many of them could end up paying a price for speaking their minds.

Last year, country-pop superstars the Dixie Chicks were greeted with a harsh backlash from country radio and protests (where some former fans wore T-shirts proclaiming "Send the Dixie Chicks to Iraq") after singer Natalie Maines told an audience in London, "We're ashamed that the president of the United States is from [our home state of] Texas."

In July, Linda Ronstadt was unceremoniously booted out of the Aladdin Resort in Las Vegas after some members of her audience walked out in protest when she praised "Fahrenheit 9/11" during her performance. And because of Springsteen's involvement with Vote for Change, Senate candidate Marilyn O'Grady made headlines by running print and TV ads in New York urging people to "Boycott the Boss."

I've seen similar responses in Chicago. When Morrissey played the House of Blues a few months ago, a large portion of the sold-out crowd loudly booed him when he praised Moore's film and called Bush "one of your worst presidents ever." Despite these harsh reactions, many of the musicians who have been the most outspoken about protesting Bush say they aren't concerned about alienating their fans. [...]

Readers to rockers: Just shut up and play!

No issue has prompted more feedback from readers and music fans in recent memory than artists performing on the Vote for Change tour or otherwise speaking out about the election and their disdain for the current administration.

The mail has been running roughly 3 to 1 against the artists who are speaking their minds.

The futility of rockers speaking their minds was never better demonstrated than when Ronald Reagan made "Born in the U.S.A." his campaign theme song in 1984, much to the Boss's consternation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 10, 2004 12:15 PM

It's their "minds" that they're speaking?

Posted by: Steve at October 10, 2004 5:41 PM

"Born in the USA" has got to be up there with "Every Breath You Take" as the top songs the fans didn't get, and didn't care even after they were told they were too stupid to get them. The only people to blame are the performers because subtle irony has always had a limited market. Which sould be a sign to these people that no matter how big they may thing they are, they are still at the mercy of the people buying their albums and putting their butts in the concert seats. Contempt for their current fans may get them some attention now, but that new attention isn't going to last as those people MoveOn™ once the election is over, no matter who wins.

I'd expect that 2004 will be prominent in a lot of "where are they now?" shows in 2015.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 10, 2004 10:54 PM

I think it is funny that Rush Limbaugh's theme song is the Pretenders' tune, Goin' back to Ohio.

Posted by: pchuck at October 11, 2004 9:43 AM

Didn't Chrissy have them revoke his right to use it?

Posted by: oj at October 11, 2004 9:57 AM

She couldn't.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 11, 2004 12:19 PM