I listen to just enough pop country to be dangerous. I don’t often comment on it though, it’s not my thing, but hey, live and let live right? Now, I will say I don’t expect much from pop country so it rarely let’s me down. It, like most ultra commercialized music, is just that, a product to sell other products. Our professional mill-house songwriters are basically writing three minute jingles and hoping a sponsor picks them up. That said, it’s easy enough to avoid it all, so, it’s not usually worth getting all worked up over the latest garbage single to hit iTunes. Every once in awhile though it gets to be too much, as in the case of Trace Adkins latest single “Brown Chicken, Brown Cow.” He’s quoted as saying it’s a joke based off the old guitar riff of porno films from the 1970s. Get it? Brown Chicken, Brown Cow – Hahaha. He goes on to say that the idea was to keep the innuendo, but sell it to kids by using puppets to act in the video. Say what? Just in case you find that hard to believe here’s an audio clip of Adkins talking about the song:
That’s disturbing on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin. So, my initial reaction was to do what I have always done with the latest Trace Adkins single: ignore it until it goes far, far away. Ignoring “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” took some doing, let me tell you what! Now, I was well on my way of doing just that with “BC, BC” when I stumbled over this quote from Adkins talking about the commercial failure the song has actually turned out to be (thank you St. Cecilia).
“I guess I went to that well one too many times. They’re over it. it’s like if I was a painter. I was painting landscapes and I couldn’t sell any of them, then one day I decided to paint a bowl of fruit and someone walks in my studio and immediately buys it. Then I start painting more bowls of fruit, and they’re selling great for a while and I stop painting landscapes. Then someone comes in and says, ‘Got any landscapes?’ ‘No, I quit doing those.’ ‘Well, I want those now.’ ‘Oh.”
I’m just a country music blogger and deejay, no more, no less, and I only know a thing or two about a thing or two, and yes, he lost me about 2/3rds of the way through the first time I read the quote – not so smart, this one. But, here’s my take-away and frankly I find it more disturbing then the song itself. When this man talks about what he does in the above quote, he tears the veil away from the idea that he or anyone he associates with cares about art or music. If cherry bowls are selling that’s what he’s going to do. Now, some might not be alarmed by this. Some might simply nod their head and say it’s his job and that’s good business. But don’t we trust our artists to make sense of a chaotic and confusing world; to at times make it beautiful and at times reflect back the absurdities and horrors? Would Adkins even consider himself an artist or does he think he simply got hit in the face by a money rake hidden in the grass? We love Dolly Parton, and Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard because when they sing a song they believe what they are singing. I’m incredible moved by Mark Rothko and Edward Hopper’s paintings because they believed in what they put onto canvas. When Twyla Tharp dances, when Albert Pujols swings, and when Bruce Willis cusses I believe it. The next time Adkins or any of his badonkadonks sing “God Bless America,” though I’ll wonder if patriotism is what’s selling this year with Coke Zero soon to follow. How could I not? What a bunch of assholes. Where have you gone Charlie Rich? There’s an award envelope in need of burning.
And now, brought to you by the Asshole Songwriters Association of America, and Ford Motor Company, I give you “Brown Chicken, Brown Cow.” Gather the kids!