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Interview:
John Rich Wants To "Log-Jam" Legistlators With "Shuttin' Down Detroit"
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Country singer John Rich wants to turn a hit single about Detroit's economic crisis into a campaign.

Rich's "Shuttin' Detroit Down," the first single from his forthcoming solo album "Son of a Preacher Man," is No. 1 on local country music station WYCD-FM and is No. 17 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. The song was inspired by his anger over reports about financial executives using federal bail-out money for trips and office redecoration while Detroit auto manufacturers were made to squirm in congressional hearings over loan requests.

In the song's chorus, Rich laments that, "While the boss man takes his bonus bay and jets on out of sown/And D.C.'s bailing out them bakers as the farmers auction ground/Yeah while they're living up on Wall Street in that New York City town/Here in the real world they're shuttin' Detroit down.

Rich said Tuesday (March 10) that, "I would tell people that if you believe the lyrics to this song, if they describe how you feel...you should e.mail that song to your local, state and federal representatives and just log-jam their inboxes with it. And all you have to do is tell them, 'If you want to know how I feel, listen to this song.'

"Normally artists don't give people the go-ahead to e.mail their music around for free, but on this particular occasion, feel free to do it."

Rich, who will be filming a video for the song early next week -- partly in the Detroit area -- said he's been buoyed by the response to the song not just in these parts but nationwide since he premiered the song on WYCD in Jan. 27.

"What I wondered was would I get that same reaction in Texas and California and Florida and Boston and around the rest of the country, or would it just be a Detroit thing?" explained Rich, who co-wrote the song with fellow country star John Anderson and also performed the song live at WYCD's Ten Man Jam on Feb. 10 in Dearborn. "And as I kept moving around the country, I got the same reaction from people everywhere.

"The reason I wrote the song was not politically motivated. It was written as an outraged American, outraged at the government for giving massive sums of our money to people that misused it. I think when you say, His pension plan's been cut in half and he can't afford to die,' that's about as hard-core truth as it gets. People are feeling that way all over.

"As a tax-paying American I take offense to it. As a country songwriter, I wrote a song about it...and I used Detroit as the emblem for all hard-working Americans."

WYCD program director Tim Roberts said "Shuttin' Down Detroit" remains the station's No. 1 requested song, and that listener reaction has been "so extraordinary" that the station set up a feedback page on its web site for fans to send personal messages to Rich about what the song meant to them.

Country icon Merle Haggard also complimented Rich on the song at the recent Country Broadcasters Hall of Fame ceremony in Nashville, comparing it to his signature hit "Okie From Muskogee" -- and then asking if he could cover it on his next album.

Rich plans to play "Shuttin' Down Detroit" as he promotes the "Son of a Preacher Man" album with numerous TV appearances around its March 24 release. He'll also perform the song during Big & Rich' summer tour, which includes a stop at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

"I think the message in the song is bigger than country music," Rich said. "It's definitely bigger than me as an artist. I think it's bigger than Detroit. I think it's a national sentiment people feel -- red, yellow, black and white, Republican, Democrat, independent, it doesn't matter. It's everybody."



Shuttin’ Detroit Down

John Rich / John D. Anderson

My daddy taught me in this country everyone’s a saint

You work hard for your dollar and you never pass the blame

When it don’t go your way

Now I see all these big shots whining on my evening news

About how their losing billions and it’s up to me and you

To come running to the rescueWell pardon me if I don’t shed a tear

‘Cause they’re selling make believe

And we don’t buy that here

Chorus

‘Cause in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down

While the boss man takes his bonus pay

And jets on out of town

And D.C.’s bailing out them bankers

As the farmers auction ground

Yeah while they’re living up on Wall Street in that New York City town

Here in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down

Here in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down

Well that old man’s been working in that plant most all his life

Now his pension plan’s been cut in half

And he can’t afford to die

And it’s a cryin’ shame ‘cause he’s ain’t the one to blame

And when I look down and see his callused hands

Well let me tell you friend it gets me fightin’ mad

Chorus

Yeah while they’re living up on Wall Street in that New York City town

Here in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down

Here in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down

In the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down

They’re shuttin’ Detroit down



©2009 J. Money Music (ASCAP) (Adm. by Do Write Music LLC) / Seminole Wind Music (ASCAP) (Adm. by EverGreen-ICG)



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