Beyonce and Taylor Swift – It Goes Both Ways


            New Orleans       It’s fascinating to watch the cultural czars twist themselves into pretzels trying to align the power plays of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, the two reigning queens of popular music, with their tastes and biases.  These two singing sisters have a huge fan base, and they know how to use them, which if even more interesting.

The news that has some folks twisted up, is Beyoncé claiming country with her new album “Cowboy Carter,” which is a mashup of country and a bit of anything and everything that Beyoncé feels like singing.  If the country purists have a problem with that, they should get over themselves, since her album is now #1 on the country charts for the first time for a Black woman ever.  The listeners are speaking with their dollars, and Nashville will definitely listen to the cha-ching.  To her credit, Beyoncé raises up Black women country artists from the past in her album and in much of the promotion for its release.  She’s living in New York, and anywhere she wants, but she’s reminding people that she’s a Houston, Texas girl and not ashamed of it.  I like that a lot.

When it comes to country music, she’s also not alone.  There was a recent story about how much the soul and blues legend, the incomparable Ray Charles, loved country when he was growing up and his mother would let him stay up late to listen to the Grand Ole Opry.  If you’ve ever heard him sing a duet on “Spanish Angel” with Willie Nelson, you know the truth.

The young ‘uns may forget, but Taylor Swift began her career in country music, where she had significant success before crossing the line and emerging as a super pop star.  From time to time, anyone listening to a country station can hear one of her early hits.  Of course, there’s more money to be made popping than yodeling.  Forbes added Swift to its 500 richest billionaires list this year thanks to the projected returns from her continually sold-out world tour.

Switching back and forth between genres is commonplace in music, even if controversial. Think Bob Dylan for one.  Face it, in these days and times, given YouTube, the internet, streaming, and more, it’s impossible to corral any singer or kind of music behind a gate.  Little Nas proved that recently with his smash hit, part rap with a cowboy theme.  Some country singers have also tried their hands at rapping and injecting rock and pop, like Eric Church.  Whoever really cares, good luck!

The most interesting thing politically is the feverish MAGA trolls who see Taylor and Beyoncé teaming up for Biden as a huge conspiracy.  Swift has stepped hard into politics in Tennessee before, and nationally around pro-choice issues.  Both have supported Biden in the past.  Credit to the crazies, if they came out hard, that might make a difference, so stay tuned, there’s more than music at stake here.