Monday, February 13, 2017

I love the Dixie Chicks

On March 10, 2003, in London, at a promotional concert for the Dixie Chicks' "Top of the World Tour", only nine days before the US-led invasion of Iraq, lead vocalist Nathalie Maines told the audience: "We don't want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas". The reaction to this statement from the British audience was a huge wave of applause.  

The reaction in the United States was completely different.  There were immediate radio boycotts, bans of their recordings, and organized burnings of the Dixie Chicks’ music.  Their lives were threatened.  By whom?  By weak-willed rightwing authoritarian followers eager to prove their slavish devotion to their master.  That's who.

It was thought, then, that Nathalie Maines' criticism of America's foolish, headlong rush into war would end her career and that of the Dixie Chicks.  It didn't happen that way.  
Months later in the tour, as the Chicks’ closed a show with their first hit song, "Wide Open Spaces", Natalie Maines told the audience: "You know, they said you wouldn't come. But we knew you'd come because we have the greatest fans in the whole wide world."  The crowd went wild with its enthusiastic applause. And you can hear that on the 2nd CD of Top of the World Tour: Live.

In 2007, they won five Grammy Awards for their album Taking The Long Way (which included the song Not Ready to Make Nice which was a response to their critics).  That album, their first studio album since the 2003 controversy, debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and sold over 2.5 million copies in the US.

The Dixie Chicks were vindicated.  Quite simply, they stood by their principles, when all around them were acting hysterically; they acted courageously, when all around them, Americans folded, giving their allegiances to anyone who made promises of safety and security.

At a time when the world was looking for real American leadership, one of the few places they could find it was in three country music performers from Texas.  

 

L-R: Emily Robison, Nathalie Maines and Martie Maguire, the Dixie Chicks (at Madison Square Garden in June, 2003 on the Top of the World Tour