“A singer or an entertainer is valuable for as long as the public wants to buy tickets to their show. And there’s going to be all different variations of that in their career. Once you write that song, it’s permanent and there forever—with your name on it. It will outlive you. Things that interest me, that I’m involved with, are things that will outlive me.”
–John Rich, Big & Rich
Last week, in my lively discussion with country music artist, John Rich, of Big & Rich, his statement about an artist’s legacy and brand development was electrifying.
With over 33,000 downloads, “Shut Up About Politics,” will certainly outlive Rich and all of us for that matter. These are four words that we all are thinking but just haven’t had the courage to say—until country music artist, John Rich, of Big & Rich, took a stand—literally.
Today, it seems as if a person is judged solely on their political beliefs, rather than their work ethic and heart. According to Rich, America’s bread and butter is built upon the blood, sweat, and tears of the everyday working-class American.
Sit Down. Have Whiskey. And Shut Up About Politics.
In an interview with Grit Daily News, Rich went boots deep into how he created his ‘Redneck Riviera’ brand—from acquiring the legal trademark to the phrase and implementing it into the apparel and boots market to selling ‘Redneck Riviera’ American-Blended whiskey and extending it into the Granny Rich Reserve line.
What stemmed from his unique branding, was the hit single—a risky piece of work, which had never been attempted before, hoping to unite a divided America in one area we all cringe upon hearing—politics.
As I continued my conversation with John about his new hit single, I also shared my confusion about why people today are more concerned about having you on their friends list or being seen with you in public, rather than asking you to have a drink with them and explain why you believe in the political regime you do—on either end of the spectrum.
“It just wears me out, and I’m tired of it,” Rich stressed to me about how people treat one another with respect to political beliefs.
“I think we should have places as Americans where we can still go and be friends. After we get through from being friends for a while, and we want to argue about politics, so be it.”
Andrew Rossow: How does this song resonate with you?
John Rich: What I love about whiskey, particularly my brand, and Granny Rich, is that people work hard. There’s no politics to it—no democrat, republican, or independent. It’s simply ‘work hard, play hard.’ That’s it. I love that about this brand because it’s a unifier for a lot of people. I’m seeing that sentiment grow and grow, which led to me writing “Shut Up About Politics.”
AR: Let’s go behind the song. What do you want America to take away from this?
JR: It doesn’t mean ‘don’t ever talk about politics,’ rather, it means, ‘hey guys, at some point, we need to be able to go to a ball game or watch an awards show, attend a concert, and hang out together’—and not be inundated with someone’s political message—on either side of the aisle. At the end of the day, we should always remember that we are all Americans and have a lot in common.
AR: John, I just don’t understand people today. Why has it gotten this bad with respect to the level of judgment and sensitivity, where people cannot express themselves freely?
JR: Unfortunately, it’s due to how media works these days. I can’t speak for other artists, but in my opinion, the media has convinced people that if someone disagrees with you on a political matter, that you’re automatically a ‘bad,’ ‘evil,’ and ‘morally corrupt’ individual, and not worth spending any time with. The mindset is, ‘hey, actually, I’d rather scream at you and run you out of the building, rather than sit down with you and have a cocktail, sharing with one another why we believe what we believe.’ That’s where we are right now, and it’s very unhealthy.
An Appetite For A Unifying Attitude
AR: What was it like being in the room at Fox News, watching everyone join in together?
JR: When I wrote the song, watching everyone singing the background vocals—from Dana Perino to Donna Brazile, all in the same room where you have absolutely diabolical opposites joining in on the same song, all high-fiving and shouting, ‘SHUT UP ABOUT POLITICS,’ with a big smile on their face, was an absolute sense of accomplishment. We really accomplished something here. I take a lot of pride in this, and without a record label or radio support, the song goes to the number one spot on the sales chart of country music, and number two in all genres. If that doesn’t tell you there’s an appetite for that attitude, it should.
AR: What would you say to politicians on a grand scale if you could have them all in one room together?
JR: I wish politicians would just say this more. If someone has the exact opposite opinion as you have, and they are passionate about their reason, the best thing you can do, is sit down for a minute, and ask them why they think what they do, because I guarantee you, it has to do with a personal experience(s) in their life, how they were raised, how they were taught, and/or where they grew up. There will be real reasons behind that level of passion, regardless of the side of the spectrum they fall on. You have to respect that opinion, regardless if you agree with them or not. We should still be able to sit down, drink some Redneck Riviera, and talk about anything we want to talk about. It can be done. And that’s what this song does.
A Message to Every Hard-Working American Out There
As our conversation ended, Rich left me with some powerful wisdom, both as a millennial, but also as a hard-working American:
“Even our Founding Fathers disagreed to such a level—so much so, that they were bringing pistols to the meetings. You’re talking about some rough dudes coming in there, on both sides of the aisle, totally disagreeing on gigantic subjects. Yet, although they disagreed, just as hard as we do nowadays, they still had the capacity to meet in the middle, eventually signing the Declaration of Independence and agree on formulating our United States Constitution. This behavior goes all the way back to the beginning.”
AR: John, what are your final thoughts to us millennials out there?
JR: To people thirty and under—you’re the hardworking crowd. They are out there with big dreams, and with many having trouble earning that kind of money; but that’s okay, you’ll eventually be there. Remember, I started in a trailer down in Texas, and now, we’re punchin’ and kickin’ and movin’ forward. Redneck Riviera stands for that attitude.