Radio Balks At Dixie Chicks' 'Goodbye Earl'

Some stations won't air song about killing a battering husband.

USA TODAY

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

Box none.

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?"