Sheryl Crow’s Criticism of Country Artists on Gun Control Is Missing Something
Sheryl Crow says no one in the popular country music world is willing to speak up for gun control. She's not totally right.
The singer seemed to be talking in general terms when she told the Guardian that she's been disappointed with the response from country musicians on gun control, especially after the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas.
"You would think after Vegas we would see some leadership from our country community,” she says in an interview published on Tuesday (Dec. 12), "But all I can say about that is if there’s money involved, and fear, these conversations come to a screeching halt."
This point of view echoes a call from several news organizations asking country stars to do something without clearly identifying the "who" and "what." It's the equivalent of a neighborhood gathering after a rash of burglaries, with everyone grumbling, "We need to do something about this" but then returning home in time for The Good Doctor.
So ... Who? What?
A-listers Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have said something. During a recent interview with Billboard the couple called for common sense gun laws, emphasizing that "It's not about the Second Amendment." Their statement was bold, clear and did not result in punitive punishment.
Rosanne Cash, Will Hoge, members of the Dixie Chicks, Cam and the heads of three major country music labels all spoke up in one way or another. Others have too, including gun owner Reba McEntire who during a 2013 radio interview said no one should be able to own assault rifles. Her interview was published to YouTube four months after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Mass.
Who Signed a Gun Control Letter to Congress?
Many of country music's biggest stars are avid hunters and gun owners. Even if Jason Aldean has strong feelings about banning assault weapons and broadening background checks, how can he lead this fight? Within minutes of him speaking out, someone would find a photo of him with a gun his hands and turn it into a meme. Same for Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and so many more. Carrie Underwood? Her husband is an avid outdoorsman and hunter, and her credibility would be undermined by this, even if she were willing to take on the topic.
This idea that country music stars fear a backlash is real, but it's overstated. It's more likely that the majority of the singing population just doesn't want to take lead not because they don't care, but because they care about other things more. That's shallow, definitely — but when you have kids, a career and another social cause or charity, how much more do you have left, emotionally, to do something? Where do you even begin? Unless you have this answer, you're doing nothing to move the conversation forward.
Crow may have the answer. She's well-connected, with friends on both sides of the issue, and she's now taking lead in a positive way. By releasing "The Dreaming Kind" — a tribute to the 20 kids and six adults killed during at Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012 — she's blazing a trail for others on the fence to do the same. The all-genre star and mother of two is backing it up with interviews and not backing down from what she feels is right. Maybe the next step is another song, or a social movement or the symbolic laying down of arms? A concert with proceeds going to the Sandy Hook Promise, the same nonprofit proceeds of "The Dreaming Kind" go to? That would be a safe environment for an artist to publicly join the movement.
Punching a faceless giant in the nose or shouting "Do something!" from the rooftops isn't going to elicit change. Right now it is a minority crowd calling for change, but the group is larger than it was three months ago. Crow is right in saying the country industry is missing moments to make change — the 2017 CMA Awards would have been a great opportunity and it could have been done without getting political — but these calls for action without detail don't help. David beat Goliath, but he didn't do it without a plan and a secret weapon.