Roots, Toots n' Hoots Blog
Just how far has country changed?
Jeffrey Remz | May 1, 2015
Country music sure is changing both musically and socially.
The musical landscape has been coming for years, but we're not going to get into bro country, pop country and all kinds of music that is not country, but masquerading as such.
This is about the social changes underway. The most recent example of that was Reba McEntire's comments in support of gay marriage. The superstar, who seems to have a bit of a bigger platform these days thanks to the release of her first album in five years, "Love Somebody," did an interview with a gay web site, Pride Source. That in and of itself is telling because not too many years ago, no country probably would have agreed to do such an interview for fear of alienating their mainstream audience.
But times apparently have changed. With the younger generation that is embracing country these days, the idea of same sex marriage is pretty much a given and a non issue.
McEntire squarely endorsed gay marriage and said she went to her first wedding a few months ago in California. They've been together for 20 years! I thought that it was not fair, and I didn't understand why they couldn't get married. It wasn't because they just wanted to get married. If one of them had gotten injured and gone to the hospital, the other one couldn't make decisions for them. It's very upsetting. It's not only for convenience or for romantic reasons - it's for practicality. For practical reasons! I get a kick out of what Dolly said: "Why shouldn't they get married and be as miserable as the rest of us?"
McEntire, who described herself as "spiritual," also said she was not going to judge others. "God did not make us all the same. So, I just pray for an open mind and a loving heart, and I think that's all I can do."
It was not too long that saying you were gay was, in effect, forbidden in the country community. Your career would have been dead in the water. No one did come out, although it would be hard to believe that no one was. Chely Wright was the first artist of note to say she was gay. Ty Herndon, who had been the subject of those rumors earlier in his career, eventually came out. Billy Gilman followed recently.
Brandy Clark, who has enjoyed a lot of success as a songwriter with such songs as "Mama's Broken Heart" and "Better Dig Two," also is out. What separates her from the others at this point is that her career is on the upswing. Her indie release received a lot of prominence, and she has since signed with Warner, although the LA end of the label, not Nashville. It will be interesting to see how she does commercially.
Chances or hopefully it will have nothing to do with being gay and her music will be judged on its merits. Yes, the change is on in country, but what remains to be seen is the reception that fans afford the gay artist. Maybe that will give a real indication of just how far country has changed.