Some time back, Laura Ingraham wrote a book called Shut Up and Sing in which she advised entertainers who share their political convictions with the audiences they perform for, to cease and desist and do the job the audience bought the tickets to see them do.
I agree with Laura's premise that people do not spend their hard earned money to hear some opinionated singer stand on stage and regale them with personal politics and social commentary about the wrongs of society.
In my humble opinion, that part of an entertainer's day is bought and paid for by the people who purchased the tickets and should be used to give them what they paid for from start to finish without denigrating or promoting candidates and causes.
However, when you decide to devote your life to show business it doesn't mean that you give up your first amendment rights, you don't turn in your voter registration card and retire from the arena of ideas and issues which effect those of us in show business as much as any other citizen.
So I made the decision long ago to confine my hours on stage to entertaining the audiences who do me the honor of coming to see me and my opinion to my twice-weekly soapbox columns, interviews, my Twitter account and private conversations. I consider these outlets to be as much a part of my personal life as I do my time on stage to be a part of my public one.
I am accused, at times, of writing political songs, but, to me, they are not political at all, just an expression of patriotism, anger, frustration or social comment, expressed from my personal point of view in music.
“In America” was written about the awakening of patriotism in America in the aftermath of the Iranian Hostage Crisis.
"This Ain't No Rag (It's A Flag)" and "The Last Fallen Hero" came after 9/11 and "Let 'Em Win, Or Bring 'Em Home" is commentary on a war I feel we should have brought our troops home from long ago.
“Simple Man” is nothing but a hyperbolic reaction to out of control crime and the failure of our courts to keep up with it.
To me, these are not political but human issues that last through administration changes and good and bad times. They affect us all and writing songs about them are as old as music. My subjects are simple and my lyrics reflect the mindset and vernacular of the blue collar segment of the population I came from, not flowery, not intellectual, just straight ahead and easy to understand.
I have no university degrees or certificates of higher learning and actually feel blessed to have made it through high school, but I don't consider the world of political commentary a private preserve for those with acronyms behind their names and diplomas on their wall. The first amendment was written for us all, even sparsely educated hillbillies with strong opinions.
Laura Ingraham’s book title has become a catch phrase for those who don't agree with my writings and I'm often told to "shut up and sing" by those responding to my columns and tweets but that could easily be applied to them also, shut up and teach, shut up and study for your exam or shut up and practice law.
So in my parallel universes, on stage, I will indeed shut up and sing but in my private life, I'm apt to stand up and holler.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, and for our country.
God Bless America
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