“Oh my goodness! Do y’all know what this means for country music?!”
That’s what the charming Kacey Musgraves said when she won the prize for Song of the Year for her controversial hit “Follow Your Arrow” at last night’s Country Music Awards. And she’s right—that the Country Music Association recognized a song with such a progressive (or at least libertarian) message is a big deal.
Since its release on the album Same Trailer Different Park back in March 2013, the song—which champions personal choice, including on conservative bugaboos like homosexuality, church-going, and marijuana use—has garnered both praise and condemnation. Which, with lyrics like “Make lots of noise/ kiss lots of boys/ or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into,” is not surprising. Jillian Mapes has a great post over on Flavorwire digging further into the song’s reception:
“Follow Your Arrow” may have received a modest amount of radio airplay — peaking at No. 43 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart — but it fared better on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart (No. 10), which is determined by streaming and digital sales in addition to airplay. Clearly, these are stories people want to hear, even if commercial radio programmers were hesitant to offer them up. “I wish I could play that song on my station” was a sentiment echoed in various forms by country programming directors in a Billboard story from last year.
As Mapes goes on to point out, the “Arrow” win may signal the beginnings of a broader shift in country music’s approach to social issues that remain touchy in the genre’s red state homeland. But touchy or not, it’s a shift Musgraves is eager to see. When Pridesource.com asked her about the need for country to embrace the LGBTQ community, she was crystal clear:
It never happens and I'm sick of it. It's ridiculous. Whether or not you agree with gay marriage or the fact that people don't choose to be gay, we share the same emotions, needs and wants. I just think that everyone should be included in that. It's definitely time.