Sturgill Simpson has spent his entire career in country music bucking Nashville’s establishment kingmakers. An outlaw in the mold of Merle Haggard, the singer infuses his music with everything from Buddhist-sounding contemplations of life’s meaning to tales of psychedelic drug use, criticism of modern religion and poetic life advice to his infant child, as he cycles with ease through the sounds of blues, soul, country, and rock and roll. He shakes off the idea that he’s country music’s “savior,” while at the same time pledging that he arrived in Nashville years ago primarily to promulgate the “destruction” of its vapid pickups-plus-girls-plus-beer hit-making formula.
So it’s no surprise that Simpson, despite winning a Grammy for Best Country Album last year, wasn’t invited inside for Wednesday’s Country Music Awards, the establishment celebration of (just about) everything he hates.
Nor was it shocking when he showed up outside the arena instead, armed only with his acoustic guitar, to protest the ceremony with an old-fashioned busking performance.
But on Wednesday night, Simpson didn’t just rave against Nashville’s musical tastes. He raged against its political homogeneity too, taking a direct shot at President Donald Trump in the process.
“He’s a fascist fucking pig,” Simpson said. “And I’m not afraid to say that because at this point, anybody that’s still supporting that guy can’t be anything in my mind other than an ignorant fucking bigot.”
With an open guitar case at his feet and a tongue-in-cheek sign telling passers-by that he was a “struggling country music star,” Simpson pledged to donate any tips he received to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Simpson also broadcast his performance on Facebook Live, and while he told viewers he wouldn’t take song requests, he let them know he’d answer any questions they had “because fascism sucks.”
When one commenter asked him to give a mock…