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Remember When Steve Earle Compared Shania Twain to a Stripper?

Jason Merritt (2), Getty Images
Jason Merritt (2), Getty Images

This is perhaps the most infamous country music quote of all time. Defender of classic country Steve Earle didn’t care for the new Nashville sound that was up-and-coming in the ’90s, and he wasn’t afraid to say so.

He called Garth Brooks “the Anti-Hank,” and then said Shania Twain was “the highest paid lap-dancer in Nashville.” In 2001, Country Weekly reported that Earle had a poster of Twain outside his office door. The word “talent” was handwritten on the poster, with an arrow pointing at her belly button.

Unlike rock or pop music artists, country artists normally keep their opinions to themselves. The “if you can’t say anything nice…” policy keeps most people in line. While it’d be great to assume that Nashville artists are even sweeter than Bobby Pinson’s Dump Cake, the reality is there have been many examples of a sharp-tongued singer suddenly disappearing from the radio charts. Exhibit No. 1: Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks.

Earle’s harsh assessment certainly didn’t hurt Twain’s career prospects any. She has won five Grammys and 27 BMI songwriter awards, and received stars on Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Twain has sold 85 million albums worldwide, making her the highest-selling female artist in the history of country music.

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