Country roots songwriter and performer Robbie Fulks is no stranger to mixing it up and waxing controversial if he feels so inclined. As one of the early members of the resurgent country movement in the 90’s, and one who brought his experience of trying to hack it as a professional songwriter in Nashville to the table, Robbie’s been known to to take certain things he finds offensive to task, and attempt to offend them back, most famously in the hilarious song “Fuck This Town.”
But it was a much more genteel Robbie Fulks who took the stage Saturday night (1-31) at the Fitzgerald Theater in in St. Paul Minnesota for a live broadcast of the well-loved Minnesota Public Radio program A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. Far from your average potty mouth, Fulks is revered for his songwriting and playing that veers from bluegrass and traditional country stylings into folk music sentiments and themes. Robbie puts on a show these days that is something the whole family can enjoy. But when Fulks uttered “goddamn” incidentally in the lyrics of one of his songs, it stimulated a quite a row in the land of 10,000 lakes.
Minnesota Public Radio was forced to issue an apology, bleeped the word out of future broadcasts, and sent out a “language advisory” alert to 670 affiliates who may rebroadcast the show. Amidst complaints from some listeners, the Star Tribune in Minnesota labeled Fulks’ language “blasphemy,” and referred to what he said as only the word “that ends with the syllable ‘damn.'” This prompted Minnesota’s City Pages to chastise the Star Tribune’s oversensitivity with the tagline on their own story, “It was motherfucking blasphemy.”
The blasphemous term was uttered during Fulks’ song “Where I Fell” from his recent album Gone Away Backward at about the 50-minute mark of the show, and was nothing more than a lyrical element in a song being sung in the character of the story, not an off-color exclamation from Fulks.
And it’s the same sad crew at Delilah shouting over the redneck band
Game score, tea party, world war, I don’t give a good goddamn
Making the Minnesota controversy that much worse is it overshadowed an amazing live performance by Fulks on the venerable show. It’s definitely worth a listen.