John Rich Says Country Artists No Longer Have Creative Freedom: “Wokeism Made Its Way To Nashville”

John Rich

Seems like “creative freedom” is something that’s been missing in Nashville for a long time.

Of course we can sit here and complain about the “bro country” era where every song was the same tired trope about driving your pickup truck to pick up your girl in her cutoff jean shorts and heading down a dirt road to a bonfire with a case of beer to sit under the moonlight. But when Nashville is telling guys like Cody Johnson to take off their cowboy hat in order to get signed to a record label, it’s pretty clear that the industry isn’t interested in letting artists be themselves.

And John Rich thinks he knows the problem.

During an interview with Prager U from awhile back, the Big & Rich star said that country artists are now stripped of their creative freedom because they are forced by Nashville to either cave to the “woke mob” or give up their careers:

“The wave of wokeism that’s hit this country, and especially the entertainment business, that made its way to Nashville.

So these artists are sitting there and they’re being told by their publicists, their managers, the heads of their records labels, ‘Hey, we know that you think these things about America, that you’re against all this woke stuff that we do.’ (They don’t call themselves woke, of course).

‘But we know you’re not really for that. But hey, don’t even think about putting out a post that pushes against that. Don’t you say x,y,z on your microphone on stage. No you cannot record that song because it says this.’

And they just completely control these artists. And the artist only has two choices at that point: Do they wanna go have a career? It’s been their dream, do they play the game, go forward and just don’t step on these landmines?

Or, do they go out and hit the trip wires and light the place up? And lose their record deal, and not get invited to the awards show, and radio won’t play them, and so forth, but basically just erase their career. That’s what they’re faced with.

Is there freedom in art in Nashville, like total freedom? Absolutely not. It’s sad.”

Rich says that it’s this control by record labels that is killing the art that’s coming out of Nashville – comparing them to comedians who have had to start worrying about what jokes they tell on stage:

“To make authentic art, the artist needs to have free reign over whatever they’ve got in their mind…

So when you start building walls and parameters and barriers protocols around artists, then the art’s dying at that point.”

And he says that some of the legendary artists in country music would no longer be accepted by the Nashville machine in today’s environment:

“If you’re wondering why it seems like people are pulling back and not giving you the full meal deal, there’s no Johnny Cashs, or Waylon Jennings, or Loretta Lynns, there’s a good reason for that. None of those people would have been allowed to exist today.”

Of course two of the biggest country songs from the past year, “Rich Men North of Richmond” by Oliver Anthony and Jason Aldean’s “Try That In A Small Town,” both drew criticism from the political left. But Anthony was (and is) an unsigned artist who doesn’t have to answer to Nashville, and Aldean has never been shy about expressing his political opinions regardless of the consequences – and has been around long enough that he likely has more freedom from those in charge to do what he wants.

So what do you think? Is John right, or is there another reason that creative freedom seems to be on the decline in Nashville?

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock