TV PEOPLE ARE SO SCARED OF FOLKSINGERS: ANI DIFRANCO'S RETURN TO LATE SHOW IS CANCELLED

Created: 07/02/12 Created: 7/17/2001

Ani's previously announced July 19, 2001 performance on Late Show with David Letterman has been cancelled following conflicts between the artist's stated intentions and the program's expectations of her. The appearance was to have been her second on the show. In March, Ani was asked for a list of three songs she might perform. The song she ultimately chose from the list, "Subdivision," has been a staple of her recent concerts and is one of the most-discussed tracks on her latest album, Revelling/Reckoning. The lyrics of the song examine the prevalence of racism in urban America and its devastating impact on the landscape of cities nationwide. The opening line states the matter bluntly yet eloquently: "White people are so scared of black people." A week before the taping, however, representatives of the program insisted that Ani instead perform "Heartbreak Even" because its portrait of a stalled relationship was considered more "upbeat." As viewers of the Late Show are well aware and as the producers have admitted, songs featured on the program in the past have reflected a wide range of tempos, but evidently "Subdivision" was not to be one of them. Requests to reschedule the appearance for a time when its tempo might better fit the show were denied, leaving only one conclusion: that the beat of the music stirred up less trouble than the words of the song. As a matter of principle and a privilege of her hard-earned independence, Ani does not perform songs on demand, whether the demand comes from the producer of a television program, an audience member at one of her concerts, or even her own management. Faced with a choice between playing something "upbeat" yet apolitical or not playing at all, Ani chose the latter. Both Ani and Righteous Babe regret any disappointment this decision causes viewers and fans. CLICK HERE to read the lyrics THE LATE SHOW didn't want you to hear.