Tyler Childers dropped a surprise new album ‘Long Violent History’, but he didn’t just slide the album onto the market. He also dropped a video aimed at explaining the album. Whatever your response, and responses have been varied, you have to hand it to Childers. This indie musician’s angst is boosting album sales and publicity in a powerful way and that is smart marketing.
The album is mostly instrumental. That’s tough to sell even if you are on the level of Childers. The final song on the album is the title song: “Long Violent History.”
I tried to listen to a cut from the album at the website Saving Country Music. I’ve never been a huge fan of instrumental bluegrass fiddling, so I didn’t get far with my effort. I can do instrumental if the music touches me. This one just didn’t, and it had nothing to do with the politics.
I found the lyrics to the only song with lyrics pedantic and forced. That isn’t unusual these days.
On the video Childers released, he said he originally planned to release the album without press. He then decided to do the video to put the album “in context” so it wouldn’t “be misinterpreted.” Childers critiqued his own lifestyle choices in the past, and even said he has “no soapbox to stand on.”
Then came the “but” part. Let us acknowledge that 3 letter word is one of the biggest in the English language.
Childers said he’s been “given a platform”—he feels “undeserving”—but:
“I would find it a waste were I not try to use it to make some good.”
The indie musician then suggested “self-examination” for his “white rural listeners.” I’d posit self-examination when it comes to the soul is beneficial for anyone regardless of complexion or ethnicity.
From there he gives a mini-brief on voting and criticizes those “taken aback by Black Lives Matter.” Towards the end, Childers characterizes the South as having “history steeped in racism and treason.” He winds it down by condemning respect for the Confederate flag and asking us to have empathy.
Somewhere in between he talks about police brutality.
After word got out about the album and video, Twitter exploded. Quite a few Southerners were insulted. Legions of wannabe fans came out of the woodwork to praise Childers for his statement. Legacy media like NPR ran headers mostly imitating other headers at legacy media:
“Tyler Childers Pushes Back On Southern Values And Our ‘Long, Violent History’”
Personally speaking, I have no problem with celebs stating their political opinions other than to say it’s sad that those who disagree would likely be banned from certain networks for disagreeing. For instance, if you mention any limits on abortion, you will likely not make it in today’s music industry. If you express support for law enforcement in general, the same applies. At present one side of the aisle has the media’s bully pulpit—that’s just the way it is.
I’ve said it many times, and my own life reflects it. I don’t see people in colors. I just see human beings with the same needs I have. I admit we do have many challenges as a community, state, and country. That isn’t new. And our history does have violent periods when oppression was dealt out by those in power. Here’s my “but”.
Compare our histories to those of other countries. Compare our rights to those of other countries. Compare our individual wealth. You will find the substance of our history is not unique. Humans have oppressed and exploited humans since the beginning of time. Perhaps one day we will all learn to practice the Golden Rule. That day hasn’t yet come.
It is the slicing of our history from global history that puts everything out of context. It is the slicing of that history into one narrow period of time that so skews political messaging today. And it is the refusal to acknowledge that all life is sacred.
I read an article recently at one of the news affiliate websites here in Jacksonville. The article detailed crime related to the city’s hip hop scene:
“ a tangled web of gang-related murders that has played out in Jacksonville over the past two years, all involving local hip-hop artists.”
It’s a troubling article. One murder plot was hatched over a major driver of crime in low income quarters cutting across all races—fictional “respect”:
“According to Barner, the reason Robinson wanted to kill McCormick was because he made a song which “talked [disparagingly] about Willie Addison.”
Killing someone over a song?
That is echoed in cities across the land, and the police didn’t have a thing to do with it. Mass media didn’t respond by analyzing and hyping that article. Basically they ignored it completely.
Until we stop exploiting the human condition for political gain, nothing will change. And all the pretty speeches anyone makes won’t do a bit of good.
I’m sure Childers’ heart is in the right place. But it would do him a world of good to both read some world history and to head to those communities where crime makes a hostage of many a single mother and see what the real world outside the magical music world is like.
Empathy can’t be manufactured out of pretty words.
Our hope as the human race is best expressed as residing in the heart of each of us, not in political class pandering or marketing of products.
~~Featured photo snipped from Tyler Childers on Twitter.
(Kay B. Day/Sept. 22, 2020)