Monday, May 04, 2009

Monday, Monday...

Do you have a case of the Mondays today? I hope not. If you do, I've got a fun song for you to listen to that might get you out of your funk.

This week's selection for our latest installment of Music Mondays is Country Girl by Rissi Palmer. I first became aware of this song when Starbucks had it featured as a Song of the week. The lyrics are pretty straightforward, but if you'd like to follow along with them, you can do so here. I am also happy to report that there is no cursing in this song, so pull your little one (or your boss,) up to the screen and you two can jam out together. As always, we'll have a little discussion at the end, so pay attention.

First off, Rissi has got Jamie Foxx beat for the "most white people in a black person's music video" award.

I chose this song today because it reminds me of a conversation that we had previously about what it means to be "a proud Southerner". Rissi appears to be singing about many/some/all of the things that we discussed in terms of what Southerners are proud of, but I'm wondering why the title of the song isn't Southern Girl ?

To all my Southerners out there, what are your thoughts about calling yourselves not proud Southerners, but instead proud country folk? It seems like this might assuage some fears of people thinking you mean "I wish the South had won the war," when you talk about being proud of being from the South. But at the same time, being willing to give up the Southerner label would just mean you were giving it over to the racists, instead of fighting for it. That's like letting the terrorists win. It's just all so complicated...

I want to get sidetracked for a second and say that "country people" do not have exclusive claim to being polite or raising well-behaved kids. I'm not from the South and I'd like to think my "home trainin'" is quite good, tyvm. But I guess that's why she says "Don't need no kin from West Virginia to have it in ya" (Sidenote within a sidenote: I actually do have kin from West Virginia--Beckley represent!) She says in the song "it's a state of mind no matter where you're from" which means that we can all go around calling ourselves country girls if we want to.

Back to all the white people in the video: I wrote a post last year about why you don't see more white people backing up black people in music videos and I would think that this video proves my theory--it's all about the street cred.

I did some research on Wikipedia and found out that before this song peaked at #54 on the country charts, another black woman hadn't charted with a country song since 1987. That's a long time, people. White people have been on the rap and r&b charts more often than once every 20 years--what's up with that?

Rissi says in her wikipedia article, that she was offered a record deal with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis but turned it down, because they were trying to morph her sound into something less country sounding. I also noticed that she has a new single out right now, and it's a cover of an R&B song by Chris Brown.

So her album came out in 2007. To my country music listening readers, have you ever heard this song before? I've never heard it (or anything about Rissi Palmer) other than the Song of the Week from Starbucks. I get that it is hard for any new artist to make it big in the music industry, but I am guessing that Ms. Palmer has a unique set of challenges that her white up and coming counterparts don't. And in the course of writing this post, I have been thinking about how black artists seem to be pigeonholed into certain genres, while white artists are found in pretty much every section of the record store. But black people are supposed to be the ones with all the crazy musical talent. That doesn't make any sense.

I'm gonna stop it here. As always, I welcome your comments.


  1. Anonymous11:49 PM

    Although there hasn't been a black woman since 1987, I know there has been a black guy in some sort of country duo with a white guy within the past few years.

    With regards to being "pigeonholed into certain genres", I would ask could that be a cultural thing? I mean, I come from a small rural town, and I could count the number of black kids I went to school with on one hand. Country music is popular back home, although in general, I can't stand it. Further, I wouldn't imagine Brooks & Dunn would have a huge fan base in NYC or LA, but I suppose it's possible.

    In the media, black, musically speaking, is generally portrayed as rap/hip-hop/r&b related, so would that be something that sort of feeds into its self? Black kid growing up sees people like him/her sing certain types of music and is influenced by that, so grows up to sing the same types of music.

    "But black people are supposed to be the ones with all the crazy musical talent."
    That almost struck me as an odd thing to say on a blog that's all about racial dialog because it sounds like stereotyping. Granted, at times, there are grains of truth within stereotyping, but I thought we were supposed to avoid that in order to gain a better understanding of each other. This is not to say that black people are not "crazy" musically talented, but if it goes back to a cultural thing, maybe all of that talent is focused in specific areas.

    "...while white artists are found in pretty much every section of the record store."
    True, to an extent I suppose. But if you look at the areas of hip-hop and rap/r&b, from at least what I know, those areas are generally dominated by black people. Sure there are the Beastie Boys, Eminem and Robin Thicke, but those are the only white artists that have been successful in those areas that immediately come to mind. So could one say that the race thing possibly cuts both ways, and that maybe we have placed artificial lines as to who can generally sing what kinds of music? And if so, who do we blame for that? Would it be the marketing side for trying to make the most money, music be darned, or would it be the consumer side, who wants to see people like themselves singing music that they like? Or are we all to blame?

    Trying to think of a good way to wrap this up, but I can't. Love the blog, keep up the good work!

  2. Darius Rucker (Hootie) has had a few songs on the Country charts recently, but again the last time a black man did that was in the 80's. There was just an article on this in Newsweek I think ??? (ok, it was actually Entertainment Weekly)

    It's funny but I read the lyrics before I listened to the song and I totally came from a feminist perspective reading the lyrics: What does she mean 'Good home trainin'!!!!!'

  3. I, too, notice that white artists' musical diversions are met with more acceptance when they attempt to break into rap, soul, or R&B genres. If they are deemed "pretty good" by people of any hue, their songs are purchased, they are supported, awards are received, and life goes on. Yet, when black artists' attempt to break into unchartered musical territory, their attempts are ignored. Don't believe me? Make two lists and see which is longer. On one side, list white artists/actors/celebs who broke through a barrier successfully. On the other side, list black artists who did the same. To make it even, make separate lists for each category. If you include athletes, we'll be able to debate. The disparities are there. Is it racist to notice them?
    I hope I make sense. I'm tired, but I wanted to say something here.
    Cary: Good home training encompasses all the lessons you learned at home from your parents and elders that equipped you to enter society with the tools you needed to successfully navigate yourself around this crazy planet... socially, intellectually, sanely, and using good common sense. Those of us with no home training are the fools who entertain us in public arenas with their antisocial behavior.
    I'm sleepy. Good night.