Populism Gets a Nashville Twang

With Shuttin' Down Detroit , John Rich gives country an unusually aggressive rightish tilt
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2009 10:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – After throwing himself behind John McCain in last year’s campaign, country musician John Rich makes an unusually aggressive foray into politics with the populist anthem Shuttin’ Down Detroit, Jon Caramanica writes in the New York Times. The song protests bailout money going from “an old man working in a plant” to urban elites—and earned Rich a compliment from Merle Haggard, himself an us-versus-them songwriting legend.

But Rich, 35, is more roguish than his conservative campaigning might let on. On government enabling of corporate misbehavior, Rich says, “Why don’t you just come to my house and slap me while you’re at it?” And he recently joined Jimmy Fallon in mocking rubes and urbanites alike: “They take my country-boy views, make them big-city news and I just take it on the chin.” (Read more country music stories.)

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