The now-infamous Morgan Wallen video from TMZ, which featured the Voice alum using the N-word amid a 72-hour bender, has sent shockwaves through the country music industry. Wallen, 27, is facing numerous repercussions from his actions, and some of country's greatest talents have pushed for those in power to hold him accountable. While some of the biggest stars remain mum on the subject, some, including Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton and Jason Isbell, have spoken out. One of the most thought-provoking takes came from Sturgill Simpson in a now-deleted Instagram post.
Simpson, a critical darling for his albums like 2014's Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and 2016's A Sailor's Guide to Earth, spoke up on the matter on Feb. 4. He shared a play on the Kermit the Frog drinking tea meme with the text, "I miss the good old days when Kane Brown was gettin lost on his own property," a reference to Brown's bizarre backyard rescue from August 2020. However, the caption was more about Wallen's use of a racist slur, the media frenzy surrounding the clip and the mainstream country music industry's reaction.
"To anyone feeling bad for Morgan (which is absolutely nobody I know or talk to)…
Just remember that a lot of country singers over the years have had their music banned and completely ignored by country radio, ACM, CMA, [and] CMT for absolutely nothing," Simpson wrote. "And now that he’s been 'suspended' by his label, if their actions are truly sincere I wonder if they would be willing to donate every single dime they’ve ever made off his albums to the Nashville Equity Alliance or the local NAACP chapter?"
He continued, "I also wonder if all the members of the press reaching out right now to the Margo (Price)’s, Jason’s, Tyler (Childers)’s, Sturgill’s etc… for pull quotes realize that the opinions of a bunch of white liberal 'jealous/bitter/angry' under the mainstream radar 'Americana' artists will never change anything… Instead they should be talking to all the mainstream 'Country' artists and putting them in the #tastyquotemachine hot seat for a change… or more importantly, maybe they should be talking to all the black artists being ignored."
Simpson then zoomed out on the situation and offered thoughts on "cancel culture" as a whole, noting the "entire complicit industry" should be scrutinized. However, he then paraphrased humorist Fran Leibowitz and noted "we have no power to do anything about it."
"Not one person on this planet is without a single skeleton in their closet," Simpson wrote. "But at the same time, I also understand its much easier to cancel one person on their worst day captured exhibiting their worst behavior than it is to hold an entire complicit industry accountable. And that is the real problem.
"And s—, maybe we are angry sometimes…but it’s only because just like Fran Leibowitz said, we have so many ideas on how it could all be so much better… but we have no power to do anything about it."
A short time later, Simpson amended his note, adding that he feels sympathy for Wallen in the situation. He noted that Wallen "has a serious alcohol problem" and those around him should get him help. (Wallen later revealed in an apology video that he has been sober ever since TMZ published the drunken clip.)0comments
"Edit: f— it… I actually do feel a little bad for the kid because he very clearly has a serious alcohol problem and none of the people in his life getting rich as s— off him even pretended to care enough about him to try and keep him from destroying it," Simpson added.
Before wrapping up the discussion, Simpson took one last jab at Brown, adding a hashtag for the phrase "how u get lost on thirty acres." He also referenced late Black country icon Charley Pride, who died from COVID-19 complications on Dec. 12, by adding a hashtag for the phrase "charlie pride is still dead."