It’s not exactly a well kept secret that most musicians have a touch of egomania. But what happens when one of their contemporaries steps up and says “Hey, guy from popular music act, you’re not that good at all.” Magic happens, my friends. Violent, poorly worded magic.
Toby Keith vs. The Dixie Chicks
Shortly after September 11th their was a brief trend in country music to write songs about the event. One of the earliest (if not the first) is “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)?” by Alan Jackson, which questioned our fear and hatred and reminded the listener that the greatest gift God has given us is love. Taking things to the opposite end of the spectrum, Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” alleges that the greatest gift is actually swift, bloody revenge on our enemies.
So sayeth the Lord, “Put a boot up their ass.”
The song was a smash hit, though it toted controversy. Among the detractors were the female country group the Dixie Chicks, who’s lead singer Natalie Maines said “”ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant.” Further studies would later reveal that Maines had never actually heard a country song before.
The ensuing feud saw the two musicians take open jabs at one another whenever they were seen in daylight. Maines attended an award show wearing a t-shirt with the acronym “FUTK” hoping people weren’t clever enough to crack her oh-so tricky code. Meanwhile, Keith began using a doctored photograph of Maines and Sadam Hussien as a concert back drop. Classy people, these country musicians.
According to Keith’s publicist he has given up the feud in favor of putting more boots up in asses. However, he still won’t say Maines’ name in public. Meanwhile the Dixie Chicks are too busy not being relevant to bothered by the musings of cowboy.
Charlie Rich vs. John Denver
In the seventies the American public fell in love with a creepy-looking farm boy named John Denver, pictured below.
Denver’s brand of non-offensive, bubble-gum and kittens folk music didn’t initially prove to be popular. In fact, his first album contained a cover of Leaving on a Jet Plane, somehow prompting more sales of the original Peter, Paul and Mary recording and proving that Denver had the reverse Midas touch. Then in 1972 saw Denver score a string of four number on singles and three number one albums. Said John about the success, “Far out!”
Three years later Denvermania hit a boil. At the Country Music Awards that year the host, Charlie Rich, had spoken out against John Denver, saying that he was “too pop,” “not country enough,” and “kind of fruity.” Rich himself had done some genre bending within country music but landed the Entertainer of the Year award the previous year. When it came time to announce the new Entertainer of the Year Rich read that it was his “good buddy John Denver” and promptly set the envelope on fire.
Sunshine on his shoulder does not, in fact, make him happy.
Rich saw immediate backlash for his actions from within the industry and from fans; his albums saw a decline in sales numbers and he only had one top ten hit in the following ten years.
James Brown vs. Joe Tex
Most of you readers are probably familiar with the work of James Brown, the man who popularized both soul music and flamboyant capes being worn by non-superheroes. However, Joe Tex wasn’t quite as successful as the Godfather of Soul due in part to his own withdrawl(s) from the public life. Tex utilized a style of speaking over music that he called “rap” to score a string of top ten hits between the sixties and seventies. His musical legacy would later inspire gang violence and foul language.
Brown and Tex were label mates and presumably had a peaceful co-existence before Tex noticed that Brown was using moves on stage that were very similar to his own. Things only grew worse when Tex noticed that Brown was dating a woman that was very similar to his wife. Surprise surprise, it was her. Not one to hold back a good zinger, Tex wrote the song “You Keep Her.”
Not content with the song, Tex began mocking Brown on stage by flailing about in a cape. That was apparently the line for Brown who responded the only way a successful musician can: with leaden justice. While at a night club Brown opened fire on Tex with a revolver, striking several other patrons whom he paid off with one-hundred dollar bills.
“Sorry for the whole ‘almost murdering you’ thing.”