I was perusing a paper edition of the New York Times Sunday and ran into a write-up on former Dixie Chick Natalie Maines.
The piece is more about Maines’ music than her politics, but because her anti-Bush comment of 2003 was so defining, yes, reporter Jon Pareles did ask about that.
“I would never take it back”
“I’m so glad it happened. I feel like it sort of freed me in a lot of ways. I didn’t know people were misinterpreting who I was as a person, or making all of these assumptions because of the kind of music I played. I have no problem being a pro-gay, pro-choice, pro-woman, pro-free speech kind of a person, and I have no shame in that or apology or embarrassment. I think I just felt very rebellious about it all. Yeah, this is me. Like it or hate it, I’m not doing anything wrong.”
Her new solo album will release tomorrow May 7th. It’s a not-exactly-country and not-exactly-rock collaboration with Ben Harper and his band.
A shame it didn’t get released the same week that George Dubbya christened his Presidential Library, eh?
Here she is singing the title track for her new album “Mother”, live on the Howard Stern show
[This is JUST singing. No chit chat.]:
Let us now remember Dixie Chicks and That Strange Year
Many non-country music fans became suddenly interested in the existence of The Dixie Chicks on March 10, 2003 when one of them – Natalie Maines – said to a London audience, “Just so you know we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”
At the time G.W. Bush was just about to send troops into Iraq over those spooky Weapons of Mass Destruction that a majority of Americans, apparently, believed were there and needed to be dealt with STAT by an invasion of U.S. troops because of Al Queda – which we thought was in Afghanistan and Pakistan and..
Yeah. It was *THAT* time in history.
Right wing media went batshit over Natalie’s pinko-turncoat comment. Dixie Chicks got booted from country playlists across the nation just as the group’s album “Home” was at top of the Billboard charts and their single ‘Travelin’ Soldier’ was #1.
Natalie Maines did apologize to Bush on March 14th – 4 days after the initial comment.
The next day their CD’s were thrown in a pile by KRMD 101.1 FM in Bossier City, Louisiana so a tractor could ceremoniously drive over them at a “Dixie Chicks Destruction” day.
Their manager sent emails to radio stations to explain that the grassroots backlash wasn’t really grassroots – that it was really orchestrated by a right wing site called Free Republic – the same site that was claiming that any anti-war protests of the day were “communist-organized demonstrations”.
Here’s a representative comment from faithincowboys over at Free Republic’s “Dixie Chicks Slam Bush on Foreign Soil”
..You all be sure to Let Neil and Reese at WBCT 93.7 out of Grand Rapids Michigan know that there are KIDS YOUNGER that that loudmouth singer, In the Military Protecting their sorry asses so they can make assinine statements publicly OVERSEAS! ..”
In April the Dixie Chicks did their best to launch a charm offensive by appearing on every media outlet that would have them.
Maines told interviewer Diane Sawyer,
“When you’re getting death threats… at our concerts this year, we have to have metal detectors, and to me that’s just crazy.
“But we have to take precautions because this thing has gotten so out of control.”
No explaining or apologies could fix things. The country music world cut them off.
According to music writer Peter Cooper, this sort of thing had never happened before:
“Johnny Cash wasn’t kicked out of country music for expressing concerns about Vietnam, any more than Cash was kicked out for his initial high regard for Richard Nixon. Nobody blinked when Tom T. Hall and Charlie Daniels campaigned for Jimmy Carter, or when Loretta Lynn campaigned for the first President Bush.”
“the people who were listening to conservative talk radio were calling country stations to say they wouldn’t listen to the country stations if the country stations played the traitorous Dixie Chicks.”
A documentary was made about the whole Dixie debacle called “Shut up and Sing” [and I can not believe I never watched this].
Mission Accomplished (F’real)
If success is the best revenge, the Dixie Chicks definitely got theirs — a mission more accomplished than any of George W. Bush’s.
Three years later they released an album produced with the seemingly mismatched hip-hop producer Rick Rubin entitled Taking the Long Way. It became a gold record in the first week despite having almost no airplay in the country music world and it won 5 Grammies in 2007 as well as the Juno Award for International Album of the Year.
Here’s a video of Natalie speaking with Howard Stern for his show recently. In the roughly half of this I watched she talks about how she came to switch colleges four times, her dad’s career as a steel guitar player, and what she was like in high school. Stern keeps his language and behavior fairly clean – though I do wish he wouldn’t interrupt so much.
This is a promo-video for the album dotted with comments from Ben Harper and Natalie.
The Other Chicks
Maybe you were wondering how the other 2 chicks in the trio were doing? The did their own album as the “Courtyard Hounds”.
I like this tune of theirs:
The Dixie Chicks will play Mid-May in Austin, TX and then they’re off on a Canadian tour… check it out.