Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks are a country music band, currently comprised of Martie Maguire, Emily Robison and lead singer Natalie Maines. The band formed in 1989 in Dallas, Texas, and performed bluegrass and country music, bused and toured the bluegrass festival circuits and small venues for six years. The Dixie Chicks achieved massive country music and pop success, beginning in 1998 with hit songs like “Wide Open Spaces”, “Cowboy Take Me Away”, and “Long Time Gone”.The Dixie Chicks also became well known for their independent spirit and controversial comments on subjects such as war and politics. On the morning of September 11, 2001, four commercial U. S. jet liners were high jacked by al-Qaeda terrorists and three of them hit targets, the World Trade Center (Twin Towers) in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Over 3,000 victims and 19 high-jackers died in the attacks. A campaign was launched in 2001 with the invasion of Afghanistan in response to these attacks with a particular focus on militant Islamists and al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.Somehow over the course of the next year and a half, Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein became the target of President George W. Bush and administration’s top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. According to some reports, these officials made hundreds of false statements following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the myth of “weapons of mass destruction” in order to justify launching an attack of Iraq on March 20, 2003. Regardless of hundreds of anti-war protests throughout the U. S. one of which I attended here in Austin) and protests abroad, the U. S. Administration turned a deaf ear. The U. S. invasion of Iraq was about to begin in spite of these frustrated worldwide objections to a needless war. Just ten days before the Iraq invasion, March 10, 2003, the Dixie Chicks performed a concert in London, England to start off their Top of the World Tour. During the introduction to their song “Travelin’ Soldier”, Natalie Maines, a Texas native, said: “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas. Maines’ comment angered many country music fans; there was a huge disapproving uproar, and the start of a boycott of Dixie Chicks’ music that was financially damaging. On March 12, 2003, lead singer Maines attempted to clarify matters by saying, “I feel the President is ignoring the opinions of many in the U. S. and alienating the rest of the world”. With this statement having had no effect on public opinion, Maines issued an apology on March 14: “As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful.I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers’ lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American. ” While some people were disappointed that Maines apologized at all, others dropped their support of Dixie Chicks and they lost their sponsor, Lipton.In one famous anti-Dixie Chicks display, former fans were encouraged to bring their CDs to a demonstration at which they would be crushed by a bulldozer. There was a poll at the time that indicated 76 percent of former Dixie Chicks fans stated, “If I could, I’d take my CDs back”. Across the country, radio stations refused to play Dixie Chick music. Film maker Michael Moore claimed that these boycotting radio stations were owned and/or operated by major Bush supporters who wanted to gain favor with his administration. There were massive gatherings of people trashing and burning their CDs, and even death threat letters sent to Maines.Some death threats led them to install metal detectors at shows during their national Top of the World tour. One exception to the list of Dixie Chicks opponents was country music veteran and Iraq war opponent Merle Haggard (a country music legend). On July 25, 2003, the Associated Press reported him saying: “I don’t even know the Dixie Chicks, but I find it an insult for all the men and women who fought and died in past wars when almost the majority of America jumped down their throats for voicing an opinion. It was like a verbal witch-hunt and lynching. On April 24, 2003 the Dixie Chicks launched a publicity campaign to explain their position. During a prime-time interview with TV personality Diane Sawyer, Natalie Maines said she remained proud of her original statement. President George W. Bush responded to the controversy surrounding the Dixie Chicks in an interview with Tom Brokaw, also on April 24: “The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say… They shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out… Freedom is a two-way street…I… don’t really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people, and if some singers or Hollywood stars feel like speaking out, that’s fine. That’s the great thing about America. It stands in stark contrast to Iraq… ” After three years of attacks, struggle, and controversy, the Dixie Chicks released the single “Not Ready to Make Nice” On March 16, 2006, in advance of their upcoming album. This single directly addressed the political controversy that had surrounded the group. The creation of this song was therapeutic and personal.Dixie Chicks member Emily Robison stated: “The stakes were definitely higher on that song. We knew it was special because it was so autobiographical, and we had to get it right. And once we had that song done, it freed us up to do the rest of the album without that burden. ” She said writing the song had become their “therapy”, since they had to hold in so many stored emotions for so long. The chorus: I’m not ready to make nice I’m not ready to back down I’m still mad as hell and I don’t have time to go ’round and ’round and ’round It’s too late to make it right I probably wouldn’t if I could Cause I’m mad as hell Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should In reaction to the death threats Maines had received, as well as a response to a protesting woman telling her small child to say “screw ’em”: I made my bed and I sleep like a baby With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’ It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger And how in the world can the words that I said Send somebody so over the edge That they’d write me a letter Sayin’ that I better Shut up and sing or my life will be overThe album containing this song, Taking The Long Way, was released May 22, 2006. It debuted at number one on both the U. S. pop albums chart and the U. S. country albums chart, selling 526,000 copies in the first week (the year’s second best such total for any country act) and making it a gold record within its first week. Despite having had little or no airplay in areas that had once embraced them, the Dixie Chicks became the first female band in chart history to have three albums debut at #1. The controversies may have set them back a few years but, in the long run they gained a larger more diverse audience and are doing better than ever.Natalie Maines retracted her earlier apology to President George W. Bush, stating, “I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President, but I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t feel he is owed any respect whatsoever. ” The last phrase of this song sums it up nicely: Forgive, sounds good Forget, I’m not sure I could They say time heals everything But I’m still waiting On November 10, 2006 the documentary, Shut Up And Sing, chronicling this whole fiasco was released featuring this and other songs from the album, Taking The Long Way.The cover of this documentary speaks volumes to some of the opinions about the Dixie Chicks at the time. Not Ready To Make Nice lyrics Songwriters: Wilson, Dan; Maguire, Martie; Maines, Natalie; Robinson, Emily; Forgive, sounds good Forget, I’m not sure I could They say time heals everything But I’m still waiting I’m through with doubt There’s nothing left for me to figure out I’ve paid a price And I’ll keep paying I’m not ready to make nice I’m not ready to back down I’m still mad as hell and I don’t have time To go round and round and round It’s too late to make it rightI probably wouldn’t if I could Cause I’m mad as hell, can’t bring myself To do what it is you think I should I know you said Can’t you just get over it?? It turned my whole world around And I kinda like it I made my bed and I sleep like a baby With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’ It’s a sad, sad story when a mother will teach her Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger And how in the world can the words that I said Send somebody so over the edge That they’d write me a letter sayin’ that I better Shut up and sing or my life will be over I’m not ready to make nice I’m not ready to back downI’m still mad as hell and I don’t have time To go round and round and round It’s too late to make it right I probably wouldn’t if I could Cause I’m mad as hell, can’t bring myself To do what it is you think I should I’m not ready to make nice I’m not ready to back down I’m still mad as hell and I don’t have time To go round and round and round It’s too late to make it right I probably wouldn’t if I could Cause I’m mad as hell, can’t bring myself To do what it is you think I should What it is you think I should Forgive, sounds good Forget, I’m not sure I could They say time heals everything