The Dixie Chicks' latest single, "Goodbye Earl," is stirring up controversy, with some radio stations refusing to play the song.
"Goodbye Earl" is the story of two friends who take the law into their
own hands and knock off Wanda's abusive husband, Earl. Wanda, sporting
a black eye and bruises, whips up a batch of black-eyed peas laced with
a dash of poison. The single is at No. 17 and rising on Billboard's
country singles chart.
The problem is that "a lot of people feel that it is inappropriate
sending out a message that it is OK to kill," says Travis Moon of K-102
in Minneapolis. The station airs the song with a message directing
victims to a local center. Moon says positive comments outweigh complaints.
"I love the Dixie Chicks, but I don't want to be in the position of
putting murder in someone's face," says Scott St. John of WKIX in Raleigh,
N.C., which won't air the single. Says John Pellegrini, program director
for WGTY in York, Pa.: "If a record company came out with a song about
a high school shooting, would the radio stations play it?"
"Goodbye Earl" (RealAudio
excerpt), written by Nashville songwriter Dennis
Linde ("Burning Love"), has sparked such debate that KRTY
in San Jose, Calif., held a town meeting about it. KRTY makes a donation
to a domestic-violence shelter each time the song airs. But there are
still hundreds of stations playing the song.
"Let's not take it too seriously. She got even, but he probably deserved
it," says Coyote Calhoun of WAMZ in Louisville, Ky.
The Dixie Chicks' label isn't worried. "Controversy is (what) the Chicks
are all about. They have an irreverent sense of humor," says Sony
Nashville's Mike Kraski. According to Country Music Television and The
Box Music Network, the video, starring Dennis Franz, has been one of
the most requested for three weeks. CMT reports few complaints; The
The Chicks' Emily Robison says, "We're not promoting murder, and we
even say that in a disclaimer on our album. Besides, is there a gentler
way to go than with black-eyed peas?"