Skip to comments.How the Chicks survived their scrap with Bush
Posted on 06/17/2006 5:54:37 AM PDT by veronica
Adam Sweeting assesses how the Dixie Chicks have weathered a political storm
Will it be the salmon teriyaki with organic greens, or asparagus tempura and tuna sashimi? As the waiter hovers with pencil poised, the Dixie Chicks debate the menu with the practised air of professional restaurant critics. The Chicks have traditionally been branded a country band, but clearly it's some time since their diet consisted of ribs, tacos and pancakes.
Sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire project a polished Fifth Avenue elegance, and vocalist Natalie Maines is a vision of sculpted cheekbones and smoky eye-shadow.
With their origins as bouffant-haired ingénues playing bluegrass music long forgotten, the Chicks are in Miami to attend a Sony BMG conference, where their new album, Taking the Long Way, is high on the corporate agenda. It's their first release since the group weathered the storm of outrage triggered by Maines's expression of shame that President Bush was from her home state of Texas. Although they've sold 30 million albums, the company was concerned about their commercial future.
When Maines made her comment on March 10 2003, 10 days before Operation Iraqi Freedom unleashed "shock and awe" over Baghdad, the Dixie Chicks were probably the biggest act in country music. Yet within days, their music vanished from the charts and the airwaves, apoplectic rednecks crushed piles of their CDs with tractors, and the FBI was feverishly monitoring death threats against the trio. It was the most heinous pop-star outrage since Ozzy Osbourne urinated on the Alamo.
"The reaction was as if Natalie had said 'Death to the President' or something," says violinist and vocalist Maguire.
"It was the bullying and the scare factor," shudders banjo and guitar player Robison. "It was like the McCarthy days, and it was almost like the country was unrecognisable."
The level of debate can be gauged from the way Maines was compared to "Hanoi Jane" Fonda, who was photographed manning a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun at the height of the Vietnam war.
The Chicks can't hide their disgust at the lack of support they received from other country performers. "A lot of artists cashed in on being against what we said or what we stood for because that was promoting their career, which was a horrible thing to do," says Robison.
"A lot of pandering started going on, and you'd see soldiers and the American flag in every video. It became a sickening display of ultra-patriotism."
"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country I don't see why people care about patriotism."
There can be no rational explanation of how Maines's remark came to drive a red-hot poker into America's divided soul, but it's only now that some of the poison has begun to dissipate.
Early concerns about the premature demise of the Chicks' career subsided when the furiously unapologetic single Not Ready to Make Nice became the most downloaded track on iTunes, despite a lack of radio airplay. Then the album went to number one on the Billboard 200 after selling half a million copies in the week after its release in America last month. It looks set to be their first UK top 10 album this Sunday.
The recruitment of Rick Rubin as producer, the man who rejuvenated Johnny Cash, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Diamond and others, is guaranteed to extend the Chicks' appeal, though it would be disappointing if the album's thoughtful range of subject matter (from IVF to Alzheimer's) was overshadowed by the Bush episode.
"I think for longevity's sake, our music had to mature and we had to mature as people," says Maguire. "Not that this particular event had to happen, but it sped up the process for us and helped us make a record that's really meaningful to us, whether or not other people see that."
I don't see why class has to be brought into a discussion such as this. I'm old money, but unlike the past two generations in my family, I don't actually think it's a sin to spend money. I grew up living well below what our means actually were, and my father did the same thing. When it came carnival time, no expense was spared, but if it wasn't the pre-Lenten season, basically, we lived damn near like paupers, compared to how I'm living now.
I have the money to dine at places where you'll drop 20 dollars on the glass of wine. It's not snobbery, it's not pretentiousness, it's that I have a personal taste for such items and I have the bankroll to back it up. One of the reasons that my father was so quick to become a Republican is because he had gained his political conciousness in the 1940s, when every damned word out of the Democrats mouth was, "little guys" vs. the Big Mules. We're not supposed to be concerned with issues of class or money, we're not for wealth redistribution, and that's why we're Republicans.
Rich people are not boogeyman, in actuality, most of the wealthy people in this country are Republican because they have earned their money, and they damned sure don't want the government telling them what to do with money they didn't help them make. Also, not all urbanites are Yankees, just urbanites in the North.
May I suggest the Dixie Chicks get the hell out of our country if they don't love it
May I also suggest they move to France .. they would fit in there better
Does anyone know what CDs are being released this or next week? I'd love to see the Ditzy Twits really fall on the charts.
"President Bush wasn't involved in any scrap with them.
What a stupid headline."
My thoughts exactly. And I'm so sick of hearing about all of their imagined persecution. People stopped buying their records-no one arrested them, beat them or tried to kill them, and I am certain that the "death threats" if they existed at all were few and far between.
Ye, you have a right to say whatever you want, morons, and we have a right to express our opinion of your comments with our feet.
yeah, well, it all depends on what you mean by "survived." word on the street is that they're in damage control mode.
Thanks for that. I read the list, and I'm so behind musically, I don't know who poses a competitive threat to the Twits.
They and the media like to paint this as a battle with the President simply to generate controversy against him. In my opinion, it only makes all of them look like fools. People who write articles like this only hope to keep a fingers pointed at all those but the ones responsible.
Sadly, neither do I. LOL. Don't really care for "pop". Most of the people I listen to (aside from CCM) are either dead or standing in the checkout line.
D'oh! Sorry! Stupid 24K dialup out here in the sticks!
Since the Chix are in Miami, maybe they should "Take the Long Way" off a short pier.
Patsy Cline was one of my favorites.
It would just be the metrosexual caveman with the shades pushed up on his head. The disgusted caveman with no appetite would not be eating lunch with the Ditzy Chimps.
Seems the dipsey chicks are spinning the loss of ticket sales on this tour.
I just found this on their website:
June 13, 2006
"Eight new cities have just been added to the first leg of the North American tour (see tour page). No shows have been cancelled. Some originally-announced late summer concert dates that were going to be put on sale the weekend of June 10 were not put on sale until a final determination is made if they are going to be moved to the fall. More tour details announced as they become available."