In 2015, American Country quartet Little Big Town had a hit on their hands with their song “Girl Crush”. But it wasn’t without its share of controversy. Some radio stations in Texas and Idaho pulled the song from rotation.
Because of the song’s lyrics that singer Karen Fairchild beautifully expresses, that include lines such as “I want to taste her lips/Yeah, ‘cause they taste like you”.
Astute listeners would come to realize that she wasn’t pining after a same sex romance, but in fact, wanting to practically BE the woman she’s singing about, in hopes to have the man she’s with. But the words alone, without the deeper meaning, were enough to get the song pulled.
In 2018, country superstar Luke Bryan raised some eyebrows in the chorus of his song “Most People are Good”, where he declares “I believe you love who you love/Ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of”, and while there were a few headlines about it, it didn’t seem to receive the same level of backlash that “Girl Crush” did.
Since it came out 3 years after “Girl Crush”, did it mean that country music had become more accepting?
The fact that both songs ended up becoming massive hits, with “Girl Crush” eventually reaching 5 x Platinum status, did it mean that listeners, radio and artists would be more willing to share these kinds of stories?
Not so fast … In the mainstream since, there hasn’t really been any major hits that capture the LGBTQ experience.
Enter Canadian country artist Dusting Bird, who wants to change that.
Dustin Bird’s Road To “Hating On Love”
2022 has been quite the exceptional year for Dustin.
Following the release of his full-length debut album, 2021’s Unscripted, Bird has released a sort of “Love Song Trilogy” with his most recent releases.
In the first, “Get Go”, he sings to a lover he has yet to meet, and the second, “Cowboy Stay”, is about a lover’s bond so deep that it’s practically unbreakable. And his latest, “Hating on Love” is about celebrating all kinds of love, no matter who it’s with.
About Dustin’s Song “Hating On Love”
I had a chance to chat with Dustin about this release, and the importance of putting out a pro-LGBTQ anthem in the world. “It’s a really big release for me. It feels like something that needs to be said but shouldn’t need to be said.”
“Hating on Love” is a beautiful song that details the struggles of fictional protagonists with real world issues. While the subject matter may lean towards darkness, there’s a hopefulness to the tune. The stirring chorus asks “if God’s gonna hate me for who I love/then I guess God ain’t who I thought he was…tell me why we still hating on love?”
While Bird himself doesn’t identify as a member of the LGBTQ community, it’s important for him to be an ally. And even though he’s not singing from a place of personal experience, he was compelled to write “Hating on Love” because in his experience it “felt it was a very isolated problem. But the more people I talked to, and hearing stories of people coming out and their challenges, I wanted to share the human experience through these stories.”
Of the song, he says “this is starting a conversation, and I hope it inspires people to talk about this more, to open themselves up to considering these different points of view, and to feel the stories of the people in the song … it’s a conversation that doesn’t seem to be happening enough.”
Listen To Our Conversation With Dustin When He Joined Us On The Porch
He states “I’m not trying to be an authority on the matter … I just want to start the conversation and tell these stories. I want to come at it as an ally, these are the stories I’ve heard, I want to move the ball down the field, so at some point in the future, we don’t need a song like this.”
The song highlights some of the darker experiences that are faced by marginalized groups, including addiction (“…the whiskey and weed helped for a while/But by 17 it was die or get going”) and self harm (“…the pills and the cuts helped for a little while/but by 18 it was die or raise hell”).
When asked about why it was important to include those experiences, Bird states “I didn’t write this song for people to just kind of passively accept and for it to be agreeable. I wrote this to show the reality, like, this is what happens. We can’t pretend it’s not happening, or dance around the fact that a huge percentage of youth suicide is a result of sexual orientation.”
“Everybody knows somebody who’s dealt with this. I didn’t want to gloss over stuff. I didn’t want to make it agreeable because we were trying to basically, like, exploit the matter. That’s not what this is for.”
When pressed about potentially ruffling some feathers due to the subject matter of the song, Bird says “I defiantly want to challenge the mindset of, maybe you’re not actively against somebody being gay, bi, trans, but your actions or inactions have an impact. I think the more we talk about it, and the reality comes into play, I feel the controversy may wither.”
I asked whether the “love song trilogy”, which “Hating on Love” concludes, is something that was planned or if it happened organically. “It happened organically” Bird answered. “Tied together because they’re about love in different ways. “Hating on Love” is being proud of your love and being proud of all different kinds of love. I didn’t plan for this to be a strategic through line, or whatever, it’s just where my head’s been at. Where my heart’s been at.”
In a previous review for his track “Cowboy Stay”, I said that “Dustin Bird is one of the more unique and experimental country artists right now”, and with the release of “Hating on Love”, I firmly stand by that.
I’m so grateful to him for creating music that’s challenging, inspiring and important. Some music is solely made for fun. Some is made to educate. Some is made to make you think, and Dustin Bird does all masterfully.
At the beginning of this article I asked if country music had become more accepting. Well, we still have a long way to go, but with artists like Dustin Bird and songs like “Hating on Love” pushing the conversation forward, we’re slowly getting much better.
“Hating on Love” is available for streaming and purchase, so add it to your library now!
And while you’re doing that, don’t forget to add the music of some great LGBTQ Canadian Country artists listed here!
Stream “Hating On Love” By Dustin Bird
Scott has been a lover of music his whole life, but being born and raised in small town Ontario helped solidify his love of Country music specifically. Drawn to the musicality and storytelling of Country Music, one of his passions is spreading the word about all the great talent Canada has to offer in this genre. Scott has an extending performing career, having acted in many theatre productions, sketch comedy, music videos and TV, and has hosted multiple global corporation seminars and awards ceremonies. While he is a classically trained pianist, he leaves music to the professionals, and basks in all their musical glory! A day without music is a waste of day, he believes, and can usually be found cranking some of his favourite Canadian artists like James Barker Band, Madeline Merlo, and Brett Kissel, and artists like Kip Moore and Ashley McBryde from south of the border on a daily basis.