Jason Isbell Talks Voting in Tennessee, John Rich in MSNBC Interview - Rolling Stone
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Jason Isbell Says He’s Voting in Tennessee to ‘Cancel Out John Rich’

Americana songwriter cracks wise to explain why every vote counts in a new interview with MSNBC

Currently in the middle of a six-night residency at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Jason Isbell gave a new interview to MSNBC on the importance of voting in the November 6th midterms — even for those living in predominantly red states.

“In Tennessee, I know it’s very easy for people to think their vote is not going to matter. Especially people who might be on the left end of the spectrum… ‘It’s Tennessee, it’s going to go a certain way no matter what I do,'” he told reporter Cal Perry in a pre-show interview at the Ryman.

But Isbell stressed — via some pointed humor directed at conservative country singer John Rich — how one’s vote can counter that of the opposing side.

“The people you disagree with are showing up to vote … so if you want to cancel them out, do it. Personally, I’m going to vote to cancel out John Rich from the band Big & Rich. His vote is not going to matter because I’m going to go and vote the opposite,” Isbell said.

Earlier this summer, Isbell performed at a fundraiser for Democratic Tennessee senate candidate Phil Bredesen, drawing criticism from the National Republican Senatorial Committee who called the songwriter a member of the “unhinged left.” Isbell doubled down on his endorsement of Bredesen (who was also endorsed by Taylor Swift) on MSNBC, cautioning that his opponent — Republican Marsha Blackburn — could be worse for the country than accused child molester Roy Moore, who lost a special senate election to Democrat Doug Jones in Isbell’s home state of Alabama in December.

“As bad as Roy Moore would have been, I think Marsha Blackburn may be more dangerous as a politician. Because she’s not as crazy as Roy Moore and she can actually convince people to listen to her,” he said. “I don’t think she wants to help people as much as she wants to help herself. Phil doesn’t need the money; he had retired from politics. He doesn’t really need to be reminded that he’s a powerful person. He reentered this stage, this platform, in the state of Tennessee because he thought he could help.”

Isbell has been one of country and Americana music’s most vocal figures in the run-up to the November midterms. On Saturday, he performed at a voter march and rally in Nashville with wife Amanda Shires. He continues his annual Ryman Auditorium engagement on Friday night.

Update: John Rich replied to Jason Isbell’s comments to MSNBC, writing on Twitter, “I think it’s great that @JasonIsbell is vocal about his beliefs. So am I. I also dig his music, even though he doesn’t like mine. The point is, we should be able to disagree on policies in this country and still be unified through our belief in America and what it stands for.”

Isbell agreed: “I appreciate the class here,” he tweeted in reply. “Wish more of our Congresspeople could have this type of discussion.”

In This Article: Jason Isbell


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