Last Thursday I wrote a column about Charlie Daniels with a provocative headline: “Should Charlie Daniels shut up and sing?” Eight out of nine commenters said, “No sir.” One said, “When I’m paying a hefty price for a ticket to hear and enjoy your music … please just sing!”
Of course, Daniels is free to make his own decision, attracting some and upsetting others, for richer or for poorer. In a profession marked by ego, what he writes on his “Soapbox” pages is good and true: “I certainly include myself as one who has sinned and fallen far short of the mark, and the only thing that separates me from hell is the blood of Jesus Christ, my covering, my salvation, my hope. Just a sinner, saved by grace.”
Daniels is also accurate in complaining that “old-line Christian denominations have tried to modernize their doctrine, bending the curve to accept things that are forbidden in the Bible, conveniently ignoring or subverting Scriptures that fly in the face of the new age dogma they now embrace.” He’s making the right choice when he writes, “I know that my deeply held convictions fly in the face of conventional and so called ‘enlightened’ thinking but that’s nothing new for me. … Man cannot serve two masters. I choose God.”
Daniels exudes dire pessimism about America’s future—I hope and pray he’s wrong—but time will tell: “Several states will go belly-up and the government will bail them out. … [T]he U.S. dollar will stop being the accepted trade currency for the world. And hyperinflation will follow, shortly after. … [T]he federal government will one day suddenly run completely out of funds, won’t be able to borrow any more, and when the entitlement checks and food stamps don’t go out, there will be mass and uncontrollable rioting in the cities.”
Arguments for Daniels speaking out: Since he has a position of cultural influence, he should not waste it. At his age he’s entitled to say what he wants, the way some women join the Red Hat Society and say they’re old enough to wear what they want. Musicians do not give up their rights to free speech. Arguments against it: Musicians should stick to their callings. Musical ability and popularity gives him no special wisdom. Why should people have to make a political statement when they choose to attend a concert or stay home?
Overall, it is sad when concerts become part of political polarization. But Charlie Daniels did not invent the culture war, and his silence would not curtail it.