Bob Dylan is being sued. For supposedly being racist. Could the harmonica enthusiast born Robert Allen Zimmerman -- the man whose ejaculate created national treasure Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers -- truly be a bigot? Sure, he could be. Or maybe his comment likening Croatians to Nazis was misinterpreted or taken out of context.
Who are we to say? Who are we to know?
We are but lowly music journalists, here to objectively report whether music sounds good. We do not meddle in the matters of men -- we reserve our squabbles to opinions on saxophone solos and minimalist noise duos.
But there are times we must tread these treacherous waters, reporting the truth for you, the dedicated reader. Although it pains me to say it, the following six artists might be a bunch of racists or homophobes (or both). Or maybe they're just regular morons who say the wrong thing sometimes. Regardless, we'll hand the ten foot pole to you.
6. Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton is known and respected for two things: his work with 1960s supergroup Cream and as the target of some sharp Neil Hamburger zingers. So why pick on the guy? He's had his troubles with drugs, alcohol and personal loss. Lets leave him alone, right?
And leave him alone we will, after he officially apologizes for a 1976 drunken rant supporting the "Rivers of Blood" speech by British politician Enoch Powell, which sparked record numbers of racial attacks. The "cream" (NAILED IT) of Clapton's speech is the following:
"Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain White. I used to be into dope; now I'm into racism. It's much heavier, man."
5. Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes' bigoted woes are so pronounced that they could single-handedly change the title of this list from "could be bigots" to "are certainly dickheads." The first hint of the Grammy nominee's homophobia appeared in the 2006 documentary Beyond Beats and Rhymes, in which Busta walks off camera after being questioned about homosexuality in rap music. You could make the argument that perhaps he was attempting to be "safe" by not playing either side of the issue, unless you keep in mind that the rapper was purportedly heard muttering "I hate fucking faggots" to his bodyguards during a 2006 incident in a diner. Isolated incident, we hope.
Oh, wait -- Busta also apparently yelled "fuck you, fag" at a gay restaurant owner earlier this year after they didn't put condiments on his cheeseburger. There goes that.
4. Phil Anselmo
We're just going to leave these here.
And also this little bit of soundboard audio, provided by an unnamed source.
Appropriately, Morrissey's voice sounds like he is constantly yawning -- which is perfect because listening to his songs is about as stimulating as browsing a Christian singles website. But one thing you can't yawn over is the dude's unrelenting desire for bullshit attention at any opportunity, exhibiting his revolutionary views regarding vegetarianism and decrying the Queen and the Olympics. So edgy.
But while many of us can relate to whimsically antagonizing anyone and everyone (ahem), there are certain things you shouldn't say. Comparing a massacre in Norway that killed almost 100 people to the practices of McDonalds and KFC is one of them. Referring to the Chinese as a "subspecies" for their lack of regulations for animal welfare is another. The comment was so offensive that an organization he had donated to in the past, Love Music Hate Racism, stated they would no longer take any funds from the dreary crooner.
So while we can't say that Morrissey is definitively a bigot, we can say his good taste is probably limited to that handsome haircut.
With his perfect eyebrows and pixie-like frame, Prince is the kind of guy who has probably been called a lot of names. Which is why it's so surprising that the man, who became a Jehova's Witness, is a firm opponent of gay marriage. A 2008 interview with the New Yorker yielded the following quote (while the artist tapped on his bible):
"God came to Earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was like, 'Enough.'" He paused. "I just live according to this."
Prince also unexpectedly popped up on the radar of gay rights supporters after the lyrics to one of his new songs, "Da Bourgeoisie" (supposedly about an ex), were revealed:
Yesterday I saw you kickin' it with another girl You was all wrapped up around her waist Last time I checked, you said you left the dirty world Well it appears that wasn't the case Hey, I see you undercover like the CIA Snatching little wigs from another bouquet - that's French I guess a man's only good for a rainy day Maybe you're just another bearded lady at the cabaret I wish I never kissed your (spits in disgust) ugh Doesn't replace the memory
1. Courtney Love
I got into a shouting match recently with a friend of mine at a bar. I stated that I didn't care for Courtney love because she seemed like an asshole and her music wasn't very good, save for a few songs off of Live Through This. The reply to my declaration was that I was sexist and threatened by a woman with a strong personality. Perhaps my friend is right.
Or maybe I'm threatened by a woman who goes pheasant hunting and then hangs out and poses for photos with the Tories, the right-wing, xenophobic political party of the UK.
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Hmmm. Or maybe it's this Washington Post review of a Courtney Love show from 2010, in which she singles out a young female audience member and asks, "Do you really like rock music? Because you're African American. That would be like me being into Lil' Wayne"
Bigot, maybe. Asshole? Definitely.