Fury Against Dixie Chicks Causing Country Music Liberals to Clam Up?

Nashville-based Theo Emery has a story on those poor, persecuted Democratic country-music songwriters in Saturday's "In Nashville, Sounds of Political Uprising From the Left."

"Country music videos flashed on a television set at the Idle Hour, a Music Row bar where a Crock-Pot of beef stew simmered for hungry musicians.

"Sitting at a table in early August, Bobby Braddock, the longtime songwriter, lamented the conservatism of the country music industry that was demonstrated when the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks became a target of fury three years ago after saying she was ashamed that her band and President Bush shared the same home state.

"Asked whether his recent song 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' would have airplay, Mr. Braddock said, 'Oh, never.'

"'Something political will not get played on country radio unless it's on the conservative side,' he added. 'If you show both sides, it's not good enough. It's got to be just on the right.'"

(You can hear a clip of "Thou Shalt Not Kill" at the Music Row Democrats website and judge for yourself ifBraddock's song isbeing kept from the airwaves purely for political reasons, or because the dopey lyrics would get it laughed off the air.)

"Country music, the genre of lonely hearts and highways, lost jobs and blue-collar woes, has become a cultural battleground. Conservatism is widely seen as having the upper hand, a red-state answer to left-leaning Hollywood."

Emery can't seem to find much actual prosecution, so he circles back to the pogrom against the Dixie Chicks.

"Though Music Row occupies a small patch of Nashville, it looms large over the city's culture. When the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines, said at a concert in London in March 2003, 'We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas,' the reaction was fierce and swift.

"Country stations stopped playing the group's songs. Talk-radio hosts urged listeners to complain about Ms. Maines's remarks. And a Nashville audience of 18,000 booed the host of a music awards show who urged forgiveness.

"None of that was lost on Music Row. Democratic songwriters say that they have since hesitated to express political views, for fear of being 'Dixie Chicked.'"

If by being "Dixie Chicked," they mean fawning cover stories in Entertainment Weekly and Time Magazine,as well as having a #1 album on the Billboard charts this summer, Times Watch imagines plenty of songwriters would submit to the procedure.