July 30, 2009 — The FCC still levies hefty fines on broadcasters who drop the F-bomb on the public airwaves, but one word that was formerly considered off limits has been assimilated into acceptability, thanks in part to George Strait, Toby Keith and now the Zac Brown Band.
Toby, of course, found himself at the center of controversy in 2002 when his song "Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)" employed the phrase "We'll put a boot in your ass/That's the American way." The controversy was less about the use of the word "ass" than about the bomb dropping it insinuated, but the fact that it was played incessantly on drive-time radio showed "ass" is OK in country music. For what it's worth, badonkadonk fan Trace Adkins is giving his own thumbs up to "ass" by joining Toby on their current tour to sing "Courtesy" during the evening's encore.
The Zac Brown Band has no ifs, ands or butts about20using the word. The group's current single, "Toes," leans on its backside in the key hook of the chorus: "I got my toes in the water/Ass in the sand." The song is at No. 37 on the Country Aircheck singles chart and moving up quickly — cracking the A-word hasn't hurt Zac at all.
Which brings things to George Strait. During a shift on the national radio show GAC Nights: Live From Nashville, Buzz Brainard asked George if he'd spoken about his Pure Country role to Joe Nichols, who will be reprising it next year on Broadway.
"I haven't talked to him," George allowed, "but if I had one thing to say to him about it, it'd probably be, 'Go on. Get your ass outta here. Go on. Get your ass outta here.'"
That's a line that George's character, Dusty, uttered during Pure Country, and it seems to be the one that's stuck most in people's minds.
"If they want me to say one line from the movie," George said, "that's the line they want me to say for 'em."
George obliges them, but he's still just a shade uncomfortable saying the A-word on the air.
"You might," he told Buzz, "wanna cut that out."