Skip to comments.Dixie Chicks controversy recalled two years later (FR reference)
Posted on 04/29/2005 12:54:16 PM PDT by FatherBreadloaf
Two years ago, the Dixie Chicks were one of the most popular groups in the country.
In February 2003, the Texas group had taken home some Grammy awards and were on top of the world, to quote one of their popular songs.
That all changed the following month just days before the invasion of Iraq. That was when the Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines told an audience in London, England that they were not happy with President George W. Bush, saying, Just so you know, were ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas. Printed in the UK Guardian and picked up by the Associated Press, the news of this negative comment spread like a brushfire on a hot and windy summer day. The outcry from patriotic country fans was deafening and conservative talk radio had a field day with the news, particularly since Maines made the statment while playing overseas and during wartime.
Not surprisingly, country radio stations across America, particularly in the red states, began dropping the Chicks music from their playlists. Ironically, the Chicks chart topping hit was called Travelin Soldier. And up in Bossier City, outside Barksdale Air Force Base, a tractor sales company and radio station combined efforts to hold a Chicks Bash rally where they ran over the groups CDs with a tractor.
It was all reminiscent of 1966, when John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Beatle records were burned in several Southern cities.
Interestingly, the Chicks other hit, a remake of Fleetwood Macs Landslide, was doing well on adult contemporary stations and didnt face the precipitous drop in airplay that Travelin Soldier and other songs on thier playlist did in the wake of Maines comments.
So, feeling the heat, Maines released an apology, telling the Associated Press: I feel the president is ignoring the opinion of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world. My comments were made in frustration, and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view.
That point of view didnt sit well with many in the public. And with country fans known as being fiercely patriotic, it wasnt surprising when sales of their then recent studio release, Home, began to plummet.
And it was this week two years ago that Entertainment Weekly featured the three defiant Chicks -- Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire -- on the cover, naked and painted with various slogans from Saddams angels to free speech.
And despite having a live album out now, the Dixie Chicks have still not released a full-length studio album of new material since that time.
In the world of popular music, two or more years between albums can seem like a lifetime in the career of a music artist. Just ask the guys in the rock band Boston.
Locally, songs by the Dixie Chicks are nowhere to be found. There are several reasons for this, which are more about business choices rather than a political stance.
Steve Casey, program director for Alexandrias Clear Channel stations which included country station KRRV 100.3 FM, said that his station played Dixie Chicks songs for a good six months after the controversy first hit the media.
We never stopped playing them because of that, Casey said, adding that industry tests that rate certain songs began showing that Dixie Chicks songs were rating poorly.
And during that time they did get comments from listeners, both pro and con. Casey said families with soldiers serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom would call up and complain. But there were others, a Vietnam veteran for instance, who Casey said that while the groups singer, Natalie Maines, did insult President Bush just days before the start of the war in Iraq, she did say that were behind the soldiers, behind the troops. That didnt get mentioned, though.
As for the older songs, Casey said those arent played right now because of what is known as song burn out. Of course, they could return to the airwaves at a future point, depending on how well they test with audiences.
Over in Leesville, at country station KVVP The Big Dog, station manager Rick Barnikel said that the Dixie Chicks are still played on his station. But at the time, some fans werent happy that their songs were getting airplay.
We got so many phone calls that we pulled their music for a couple of months and then we started playing them again, Barnikel said. To him and his staff, It was over and done with.
But there were those who did complain.
We got some whod call up and cuss out our music director but hed just say this is a free country and we have free speech, Barnikel said.
Barnikel added that it will be interesting to see what happens next for the group, saying that their legitimacy is in question because at this point were not sure if theyre country or rock. You just couldnt pigeonhole them.
But some people are still mad at the Dixie Chicks two years later, with Natalie Maines hometown of Lubbock, Texas being one of the anti-Chick hotspots.
Online, the conservative website FreeRepublic.com posted a question, asking Is it time for the Dixie Chicks to return to Lubbock radio?
Posters on FreeRepublic.com, known as Freepers, answered the question with an emphatic No!
William Kerns, entertainment editor at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal said that in that west Texas city, there are those who havent forgiven Maines and the group. He says its the vocal people who are demanding that the Dixie Chicks be banned from Lubbock radio. Kerns said Lloyd Maines, Natalies producer and musician father, feels betrayed by the city of Lubbock for not supporting his daughters right to voice her opinion.
He said at the time that, if Lubbock was boycotting Natalie, he was boycotting Lubbock, Kerns wrote in an e-mail to The Town Talk. Kerns said local radio wants to play the Dixie Chicks but because of those same vocal people, who are threatening boycotts of station advertisers, they wont play their music.
Scott Harris, general manager at Lubbock station KLLL will play them again when the time is right. He said that the Bush comment may not be the only reason the Dixie Chicks have upset country music listeners. Maines public spat with uber-patriotic country superstar Toby Keith and an un-remorseful attitude have kept the negative feelings alive.
Ive not experienced what appears to be such an unforgiving and unforgetting reaction from listeners in my entire career, Harris said. Natalie and/or The Dixie Chicks might be the Hanoi Jane(s) of this generation. I hope not, because its undeserving and they are super talented.
Jane Fonda comparisons aside, the Chicks have played recently, though. It was last fall before largely liberal audiences as part of the pro-Democrat Vote for Change tour that supported presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry.
Kerns said he believes the city of Lubbock will at some point want to add Natalie Maines name to the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame.
They are going to want her to return and accept the honor. I believe that, Kerns said. But I would have thought the initial anger would have run its course by now.
And so what are the Dixie Chicks doing now?
Kathy Allmand Best, who runs Front Page Publicity, the company which represents not only the Dixie Chicks but George Strait and Martina McBride, among others, declined to address the controversy but did say in an e-mail that the Chicks are in the studio working on new music but I have no time-line at this point on when it will be ready.
So, it will be interesting to see what direction the Chicks take and what their strategy will be in terms of reintroducing themselves to their country audience.
And Kerns is awaiting word on what the Dixie Chicks will be offering the public when their next album is released and they return to the spotlight.
Id hate to think they wouldnt be able to resume their career because of this, Kerns said.
I see that Larry the cable guy pounds the chix pretty hard in his latest routine.
Id hate to think they wouldnt be able to resume their career because of this, Kerns said.
Calm down, Captain Hyperbole. Nobody is preventing them from resuming their career. A lot of people just dont feel like buying their records anymore.
Its a free country, for the famous and non-famous alike.
For every action there's an equal & opposite reaction:
Charlie Waters 9th Grade Science teacher Branford, CT. ca.1977
Maybe some city official may be stupid enough to try it.
But the good people of Lubbock will know what to do when someone vandalizes their Walk of Fame.
They'll remove such unsightly graffiti.
I notice that those "vocal" people aren't being extolled here for THEIR free speech rights.
I guess Natalie Maines insulting the pres in a foreign country in a filled auditorium is being "vocal" as well.
How is that an apology?
There are too many talented artists out there who understand where America stands in the war on terror, so there's no need at all to even think about zeros with no clue who also happen to be talented. Natalie can play for her dad.
"I see that Larry the cable guy pounds the chix pretty hard in his latest routine."
Yes, he does! I watched him last weekend and howled when he referred to Natalie Maines as that "fat one."
But I wont hold my breath.
As much as I liked their music, it's not enough to ever pick up on of their CDs again.
My impulse is a very ugly comment towards the "chicks", but they are not worth it.
You can count me in this category. I kind of liked their music but I don't forgive treason and they got pretty close.
Who are the Dixie Chicks?
What do you expect from a spoiled little gal who had daddy help her get into the music business? Her family is heavily involved and connected in the Texas music scene (especially in West Texas) and they helped "poor li'l Nat" and her pals get their first gigs.
Yup, like: We don't want to buy any more of your stinkin' CDs!
The Dixie Chicks only made music fit for the ears of teenage girls. They were a flash in the pan, and now their target audience has moved on to the next "sensation."
I thought they left country music for something more liberal.
Didn't New York and Massachusetts like them?
Currently, ther is no move to add Nat to the Walk of Fame. She may be celebrated by the "arsty" crowd here, but the City has not expressed any desire to honour her especially in light of the drubbing that she took in local radio stations; the C&W played parodies of her music and boycotted the Dixie Dinks.
"working at a Lane Bryant in Nashville somewhere if it weren't for the 2 sisters":)
He was too funny.
Ha! How do you make up with people you still hate?
I was just about too go on a rant about the Dixie Chicks, but after reading your post, I must agree with you 100 percent. Just wanted to let you know , you had a positive influence on someone today :)
You mean the Muslim apologists, Pro-Illegal, Toby Keith hating Anti-Military Ditzy Chicks? Not only do I tune out any radio station that plays anything these Idiots sing, I know quite a few people who do the same. The Ditzy ones and KD(don't need no wang) are on the same level in my book.
Hey, I've moved on to Reggaeton ~
Maine's big mouth and their collective p*ssy attitude really offended a lot of people I would understand. That bond of goodwill between performer and fans is a fragile thing. Once they offended so many, so deeply...the road back to fans good graces is "harder to be won than a strong city."
The Chicks' sound has been replaced by Gretchen Wilson. She owns the country charts now, with the same spunky, raucous, and heartfelt vocals that Natalie has. And she comes across as one of us, not snobby and elitist like the Chicks.
I've got 4 country stations programmed in my car stereo in the Kansas City area. None of them play the Dixie Chicks anymore. In fact, the only place I've seen them in the last year is CMT, which used to be a pretty good station, until Viacom F-ed it up, and tried to forcefeed their musicians to us. My Chicks CDs remain in a box in the cellar for whenever I get around to having a yard sale.
They'll release a new album, and it will do moderately well, simply because they'll cry to the media and the liberals will flock to buy it up. But the days of 7-million sales and number 1's on the ACC Top 40 with Bob Kingsley are over. That's Gretchen-land now, baby.
Thanks, your above positive comment made me feel better.
I hear they make great targets out at a couple of hundred yards.
That's a liberal's apology.
How many of the Chicks are married to mideasterners? I remember one is married to an Iranian.
Kind of like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon whining that they were being "censored" because people boycotted their movies. Liberals feel it's their RIGHT to have people pay to listen to their nonsense. Entitlement ...
Free Republic got mentioned again! We are too cool!
Mrs. Ruth Voss 5th Grade Teacher 1957 West Covina, Ca.
Nam Vet (I'm a tad older than you but the rule never changes)
Natalie used a body double on the cover of that Entertainment Weekly.
These little bird-brains learned an a few important lessons: If you are going to exercise your first amendment rights, do it while in America. And, when music fans exercise their first amendment rights, learn to deal with it.
Actually, I think that was a body triple.
"I've got 4 country stations programmed in my car stereo in the Kansas City area. None of them play the Dixie Chicks anymore. In fact, the only place I've seen them in the last year is CMT, which used to be a pretty good station, until Viacom F-ed it up, and tried to forcefeed their musicians to us. My Chicks CDs remain in a box in the cellar for whenever I get around to having a yard sale."
I've got a stack of CDs I need to get rid of. John Cougar, Pearl Jam, REM, and Dave Matthews so far. The songs are good but it just isn't the same.
Radio stations do focus group testing on all records. The big stations hire polling firms to test records in their own town. Smaller stations buy focus group results from firms that do national testing for many stations. If the song does not test well with focus groups it never gets played.
None of this is lost on the record companies. They focus group nearly all recordings before they will spend the money to release an album. If the focus groups don't like the recordings they don't release an album. They understand that no radio station will play a record that focus groups don't like.
I would bet the Dixie Chicks have been in the studio a lot in the last two years. They likely have recorded many songs. Their record company has no doubt done focus group studies on the songs. When the results show people don't like the chicks the record company refuses to release the albun. Most recording contracts today say that if the songs don't focus group well the record company does not have to release the album.
Then the Chicks go back into the studio and try again.
Betcha they have been doing this for two years.
Their manager is reduced to saying they are in the studio but he does not know when a new album will be released.
Gretchen Wilson is a far better singer and artist than Natalie. I know it's the country sound, but I really don't like the nasal, twangy style of singing that Natalie has.
A rather pathetic comparison with a purely politcal motive.
I like the false comments about "free speech". For the Left, "free speech" means "consequence free speech". And there is no such thing.