why I respect the dixie chicks

There are a boatload of people who do not like the Dixie Chicks … not their music … they just seem to dislike them. And those people are just damn silly.


First and foremost they are damn good musicians.


Second … they articulate what they are thinking <regardless of whether you agree or not> extremely well.


That said … the respect I have for this trio goes way beyond the fact I believe Natalie Maines is underrated, underappreciated and overlooked as one of the iconic voices, and lead singers, in music let alone country music.

Musically … I also believe their rendition of Stevie Nicks’ Landslide” is beautiful and “Cowboy Take me Away should be one of the top love songs of our generation.



Beyond the above stated admiration for musical talent & ability … here is why I respect the Dixie Chicks:


They recognize that music can impact the way people think. And along the way the trio has been consistently unapologetic even if they have been controversial. They bring what they think into their music … without compromising the quality of the music.

The following are three specific song examples of what I mean:

Wide Open Spaces

Goodbye Earl

Not Ready to Make Nice.

About Wide Open Spaces:

She needs wide open spaces,

Room to make her big mistakes”

Those two lines are enough to put them on my respect list.

This song should be the anthem for women stepping out into the world seeking their hopes. Personally … I believe every parent in America should be forced to listen to this song at high school graduation. And think about it a little. On their initial <with Natalie Maines> album … the Dixie Chicks stepped up and simply stated what a young person’s hopes, and fears, were all about. And encouraged all young people to reach for the wide open spaces available to them.


A wonderful song. A wonderful message. Should be played in every senior high school class career day.


About Goodbye Earl:


Heck. It’s about murder for god’s sake.

The song tells the story of the unabashed murder of an abusive husband. While it’s easy to focus on the tongue in cheek aspect of it … it is probably more important to focus on the fact it captures what we all have in our hearts <and the pit of our stomachs>.

All of us who have known an abused spouse want one thing – to kill the bastard <the abusive husband> … either literally or figuratively. The beauty of messaging in songs is that you can never be sure if they mean it literally or figuratively. But for all of us who have “been there” you know that at some point you were sorely tempted to literally commit murder. The Dixie Chicks reminded us of a key issue in every zip code across America … and that the punishment should be harsh and well deserved. They offered no compassion on an issue that deserves no compassion. They sang, and spoke, truth.


About Not Ready to Make Nice:


Just a reminder on what happened to create the writing of this song …

While performing in London Natalie Maines, a Texas native, stated during the introduction to their song “Travelin’ Soldier”,

“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.”

For this in-concert statement the Dixie Chicks were crucified. And I mean frickin’ crucified.


And while Natalie Maines made an apology, the fact is that they were utilizing one of the foundational elements of the US – the bill of rights (freedom of speech). And, yet, for speaking out … saying what was on their minds <and on the minds of many americans I may add> … their songs were banned on the radio, they were threatened and sponsors dropped them. All for simply saying what they believed.

(side note: and let me remind you that “travelin’ soldier” is about as patriotic a song as you can find).


What did they do? They said fuck you to the world in two very public ways:

1. The band appeared naked on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, with “Traitors,” “Saddam’s Angels,” “Dixie Sluts”, “Proud Americans,” “Hero,” “Free Speech”, and “Brave” printed on their bodies – all the things (both positive and negative) that had been said about them in the aftermath of Maines’ statement.

I like they stood up and took the issue on … in exactly a Dixie Chick way. Controversial but thoughtful. It was ‘their’ issue and yet they understood it was a much much bigger issue.

2. They wrote a song (and the video is spectacular too) called “Not Ready to Make Nice.” It directly addressed the controversy that had surrounded the group:

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

… and, in reaction to a death threat Maines had received, they included this line …

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

A beautifully written powerful song. It not only has a strong message but is also good to listen to.

The band did exactly what you wished a band with talent would do … use their talents to communicate a message and make people think … while entertaining them.

I can play any one of these three songs and people can tap their toe and enjoy them. On occasion someone really listens to the words and thinks.

And that is all you can ask as a musician.

Maybe Natalie Maines said it the best way … “We always felt like we were searching for ways to make an impact outside of music.”

And that is why I respect the Dixie Chicks.

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Written by Bruce