Did you know there’s been a controversy surrounding Beyoncé, the Dixie Chicks and the CMA? It’s such an under-the-radar story and almost nobody is talking about it. I for one am shocked. All sarcasm aside, this story has been raging for days in the country music and parts of the rest of the music community. I hear bullshit from both sides and it’s so stupid. All I’ll have to say on this “controversy” is this: If you didn’t have a problem with Justin Timberlake performing at last year’s CMA Awards, but you do have a problem with Beyoncé performing at this year’s CMA Awards, then you’re a hypocrite. And you wonder why the country music community is unfairly stereotyped as racist and sexist. I digress because like always I would rather focus on the music. That music today is Beyoncé’s new, country take on her popular song “Daddy Lessons” off of her excellent album Lemonade that features the iconic Dixie Chicks that was performed at the CMA Awards and has since had a studio recording of it released.
I’ve said before in various places that the original version of “Daddy Lessons” was not country and I would classify it more as southern flavored R&B. Nevertheless it was nice to see Beyoncé embrace her southern roots on a song and it’s understandable why many in the country community would gravitate towards this song. That’s because the song itself has always been country. What’s more country than a song about a father passing on life lessons to her daughter? This sense of family and tradition is a vital part of country music and it’s appeal and kudos to Beyoncé for incorporating this into her music so flawlessly. In this new version of the song the instrumentation is definitely country, as the song opens with some excellent harmonica play and noticeably more subdued horns (which I remind you again is a part of country music going back to Western Swing).
The harmonica play shows up frequently throughout the song and essentially replaces the booming horn section in the original version. There’s also some noticeable fiddle and banjo play throughout to give it a decidedly rustic feel. Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks sound great together and fit like a glove, especially when harmonizing. The icing on top of the cake for this song is when the quartet break into the Dixie Chicks’ 2002 hit “Long Time Gone,” written by the excellent Darrell Scott. They sing the main lines, which still ring true: “Now they sound tired, but they don’t sound Haggard/They got money but they don’t have Cash/They got Junior but they don’t have Hank/I think I think I think…” Yet people are complaining about the return of one of the most traditional country trios in the history of the genre meanwhile Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini performed on the same show and none of them have ever come close to sounding as traditional as the Dixie Chicks.
I thoroughly enjoyed the original version of “Daddy Lessons” and I think I enjoy this version even more, as a top pop artist and one of country music’s all-time best trios come together to create something great. I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to these four recording more music together in the future, maybe even a full country album to really get heads spinning. At the end of the day I don’t care about all of the outside stuff because it’s impossible for me to not recognize and appreciate when great music is delivered.
Recommend? – Yes!
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Written by Beyoncé Knowles, Wynter Gordon, Kevin Cossom & Alex Delicata