Confession: I have always loved Chely Wright. A brilliant songwriter, gorgeous, sexy and completely engaging as a performer — my adult life has had more than a few of her songs in the soundtrack. She supports our military. I relate to this woman’s music and lyrics. I appreciate that her music is not cliched – no mama in prison, no divorce, no body gets shot or too drunk.
Today, the radio in my Jeep was cranked to 11 because my current theme song “Never love you enough,” by Wright came on unexpectedly. (It came out a few years ago.) I love this song…I happen to be in love & in a relationship with a great man, and feel satisfied with every aspect of life in general. After my vacation last month – my perspective on life has never been better. Spent time with my beloved and my daughter in Chik Fil A in some mall in North Carolina…realized – life is good. I am blessed with a wonderful family, a job I love, a trip to Africa where I will find a way to make a difference, and I am so fortunate to be an American. I also realized – wow – every twist and turn brings us to each moment. Every friendship and relationship and project and campaign and election and crazy decision has coalesced to rain blessings into my heart and life. It’s exactly the same for all of us. It is actually my favorite thing about being an American – we all have lives that are filled with one constant: Freedom to be an individual.
Courage comes in many forms. After my song finished playing, the DJ mentioned a Los Angeles Times article in which my girl Chely Wright took the brave step of coming out of the closet. Yes, this gorgeous and gifted songwriter and musician is a Lesbian. But more than coming out was her piquant statement about the moral hypocrisy plaguing the Country Music industry:
“It’s the unforgivable,” says Wright, who this week announced to the world that she is a lesbian. “Historically, country music would rather an artist be a drunk — they even encourage and endorse that one. You get good money from Jim Beam to put that emblem on the side of your bus. I was on the Crown Royal tour, and I have to say it was one of my favorite tours. They would rather you were a drug addict than be gay. They will forgive you if you beat your wife, lose your kids to state, get six divorces, make a sex tape, get labeled as a tramp — any and all of it is better than being gay.”
Yeah, baby. What she said. Moral hypocrisy is a problem, regardless of party. You can’t defend Valerie Plame on the one hand, then praise the public ID of a military or clandestine service interrogator. You can’t preach family values one day, then traipse off with a prostitute or hike the Appalachian Trail with your mistress – all the while expecting the American public to politely eat the BS with a knife and fork, never mentioning HEY this tastes like BS!
I love her story. I get it. She is country without embracing the hypocrisy. (said the girl who is routinely called RINO bitch by conservatives. No folks – I’m not a RINO, I’m just not a conservative. I’m not willing to sell out to Grover Norquist for the $$$ – and look away while he supports Khalid Sheikh Mohammed having the same rights as you & me.)
“There is so much of country music that is genuinely me,” Wright said. “It’s not like I don’t fit in — I do and in so many ways. As a little kid growing up I sat there and read all the liner notes. They were the margins for imagination. Nobody knows what country music fans expect a country star to be more than me because I am a country music fan and always have been. I felt like the people on the album were telling me their story and they were looking right back at me. Loretta Lynn was looking into my eyes and saying, ‘I’m singing this song for you.’ Those artists were welded into my mind. Those artists were about God, family and faith. And, you know? I am too.”
The article is a must read – if you love country and are at all interested in why I love this rule-breaking, beautiful woman. A final confession…I love that Rodney Crowell is producing her new record. It’s comforting to know that I am not the only rule-breaker with an Old School mentor who is arguably powerful but understated in his master-stroke delivery of influence, guidance and character building encouragement.