Let me confess that I did not watch the Grammy Awards last night. No, it wasn't a political thing. Eastern Orthodox Christians are days away from Great Lent and, after last night, we will strive not to eat meat until Pascha (Easter) on April 8. Thus, some fun-loving Ortho guys met at an Irish pub last night to consume the fatted calf, so to speak. The pub didn't even have the Grammys on the TV monitors.
So I missed the show. However, one did not need a degree in political science to see the Dixie Chicks train comin' down the tracks. If you want to see what I'm talking about, check out the Liberal Country Fan blog (source of the graphic with this post) and note the changes in the recent tour by the Chicks. Those gals did some wonderful preaching to their new choir and, clearly, it paid off.
Once again, let me stress that there is no way that one can equate support for the president and his Iraq policies with cultural and religious issues. However, one would have to be blind not to see that there is a red-state, blue-state vibe going on in the music industry culture wars (please buy this book). I mean, ask the Dixie Chicks about that. And some leaders in the country music establishment think that their artists are not getting a fair shake, period, at the Grammys in other ways.
So the Chicks were a hit in the cultural zip codes that matter the most -- blue ones.
Thus, the Los Angeles Times went with a nice little faith-based turn of phrase in its Grammy lede:
The Dixie Chicks are Nashville refugees for reasons of politics and personality -- after stinging comments about President Bush, country radio banned them and country fans shunned them -- but on Sunday the trio found blue-state redemption at the 49th annual Grammy Awards with five awards, including song, record and album of the year.
"Blue-state redemption" -- that says it all.
Meanwhile, reporter J. Freedom du Lac of The Washington Post included the oddest collection of religion notes from the night's rites -- starting with a "who needs enemies" laugh-out-loud line from the so-called gospel-music part of the program:
Most embarrassed winner? Third Day guitarist Mark Lee. When his group was named winner of the pop/contemporary gospel album award, Lee was busy flushing away his big moment. "Dude, we're winning the Grammy!" frontman Mac Powell said from the stage. "You can't hold it?" Lee materialized moments later, blushing. (Later, backstage Lee explained he "wasn't literally in the bathroom" but just running late.)
The thank-you speeches included countless references to God and famed record exec Clive Davis (not necessarily in that order), plus two to L. Ron Hubbard. Chick Corea's wife acknowledged the Church of Scientology founder in accepting the best instrumental arrangement award on behalf of her musician husband, who was dealing with traffic. (So L.A.!) Corea showed up in time to accept the best instrumental jazz album award for "The Ultimate Adventure," based on a Hubbard book of the same name, and name-checked the author along with a long list of musical greats.
Meanwhile, R&B diva Mary J. Blige went far beyond vague God talk as the stage hands prepared to help her off the stage, offering this emotional sendoff:
"Father, God, lord and savior Jesus Christ, I thank you so much," Blige led off just for starters. "Thank God for this album and this award ... . It's shown that I'm growing into a better human bein'.
By the way, I believe that Associated Press style would use an uppercase "L" in "Lord" and an upper-case "S" in "Savior." Has there been a non-Trinitarian change in the journalism Bible that I missed, somehow?
And, speaking of country music and the principalities and powers of the entertainment universe, I have to mention that bizarre and wonderful quote from triple-Grammy winner Carrie "American Idol" Underwood:
"I love country music first of all," said the 23-year-old native of Muskogee, Okla. "There are so many people to thank. I'm going to start at the top: Thank you God, thank you mom and dad, thank you Simon Fuller, who created the show 'American Idol' that got me here. I owe everything to Simon Fuller ... ."
And all of the realists said, "Amen."