Recent comments from Maren Morris regarding the overt patriotism in country music have ignited a response from Lee Greenwood, renowned singer-songwriter of “God Bless the U.S.A”. In a detailed interview with The Los Angeles Times, Morris expressed her intention to distance herself from the country genre.
During her dialogue with The New York Times Popcast, she highlighted songs like Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” and Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond,” illustrating the industry's entrenched notions of patriotism, hypermasculinity, and racial dynamics.
Morris reflected on the years of Donald Trump’s presidency, implying that it brought to light certain biases within the industry. According to her, "After the Trump era, the underlying prejudices of many became overtly visible.
People openly exhibited misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and transphobic tendencies, which seemed to align strangely with a hyper-masculine strain in country music."
Greenwood Defends Country's Essence
However, Greenwood had a contrasting perspective.
In a Fox News op-ed, he expressed, "To insinuate that country music is overwhelmingly patriotic is to completely misunderstand its essence. Country music, by definition, encapsulates the spirit of America and its fervent love for the nation." He elaborated that country music has always mirrored America's pulse, echoing the national sentiments of its time.
Thus, it's not politics permeating the music but the music reflecting ongoing societal conversations. "Political climates shift," Greenwood added, "yet country music's foundation - a profound love for America, its freedoms, and values - remains unshaken." Greenwood suggested that Morris might find more value by staying within the genre, leveraging it as a platform to offer her contemporary take on Americanness.
He cautioned against the dangerous precedent of sidelining artists or entire genres due to disagreements over lyrical content. He asserted, "Pushing for such a censorship infringes upon free expression and deviates from the principles of perseverance, liberty, and resilience that define the soul of country music." It's worth noting that Morris has been a vocal ally for the LGBTQ+ community.
Earlier in the year, she graced the stage for the Love Rising benefit concert in Nashville, protesting against Tennessee's potential adverse laws on trans youth. Moreover, she shined on Billboard's 2023 Pride Issue cover, standing alongside drag icons like Eureka O’Hara, Landon Cider, Sasha Colby, and Symone.