Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rascal Flatts Is Sort of Awesome

I'm pretty picky when it comes to musical tastes. I do love a lot of old country, and I enjoy most bluegrass. I don't like most modern country pop. I've never been a huge fan of Rascal Flatts. But here I am, promoting them in my blog. There are two reasons I am posting about them. One is that they recently released a single that they themselves stated can be interpreted as a song of support for same-sex couples. The song is called, "Love Who You Love." The other reason I am writing about them is that they are totally relevant in a Cbus blog - two of the three band members are from Columbus, Ohio.

Quoth the band:

“We actually have some gay people that work with us, and we have a lot of friends that are gay, too, and I know that this song has inspired them,” said singer Gary LeVox during an interview at CMT earlier this month. “I know that coming out was tough on their parents and on them and the whole entire family. For a long time, some of them didn’t get to hear ‘I love you’ from their dads or be accepted in that way. … It’s helped a lot of our friends.”

“That’s what’s cool about our music,” says guitarist Joe Don Rooney. “You can interpret (it like) that. If you get that — it’s perfect. If you are someone who’s gay or someone who’s straight, you still feel something from the song, and that’s what we want.”

“We don’t judge anybody’s lives,” says bassist Jay DeMarcus.

Country music is often associated with ignorance in general and conservative politics in particular (and so is the Midwest - more on that later). It's not true at all that country has to be associated with those values. Both historically and in the present day, there are many country musicians who have/have had more "liberal" politics and many who support LGBTQ rights.

It seems too common that people say they like "all types of music except for country, rap, and/or metal." I'm kinda ashamed to admit that I used to be one of those people. I'd like people to look beyond what they think they know and explore music that might be outside their comfort zone. My appreciation for country music grew as I learned more about its history, and as I experienced more of it besides the shiny polished version currently blandly blaring on Clear Channel radio. I also came to love country more as I learned more about Appalachian culture and started to appreciate my family's Appalachian roots.

When I know more about musicians' personal politics, it can affect my taste for their music in a positive or a negative way. I still don't like 95% of country pop. You won't find any Shania Twain or Taylor Swift in my CD player. But maybe I'll give Rascal Flatts a second chance. And even if I don't like their music, I certainly, seriously appreciate what they are doing with this song. They have a huge listening audience and a great amount of visibility. I know as a musician that the universal language of music has the potential to change hearts and minds. I feel that this song has the chance to make a difference for some people and I'm truly grateful to Rascal Flatts for taking a stand. And I'm truly proud that not one but two members of their band hail from the city I currently call home.

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