Chicks have been in the news quite a bit this recently. Following Natalie
Maines pronouncement to a London audience, "Just so you know, we're ashamed
the President of the United States is from Texas," the Chicks not only stood
by her statement, but posed semi-nude on a magazine cover to champion "free
speech" in a logically challenging fashion. Country fans predictably expressed
displeasure, flooding radio stations with demands that the Chicks be banned
from their air waves. "We've had a huge listener reaction and movement against
the statements," said Paul Williams of KPLX-FM in Dallas-Fort Worth, the
nation's fifth largest radio market. In Kansas City, Mo., WDAF-AM set trash
cans outside its offices for listeners to toss their Dixie Chicks CDs. Its
Web site displayed more than 800 listener e-mails, most of them in support
of the station's boycott. After more than 250 listeners called Friday to
complain about Maines' comments, WTDR-FM in Talladega, Ala., dropped the
Maines did offer a half hearted apology, "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."
Yet, it was far from an expression of contrition when Maines appeared in
an F.U.T.K. t-shirt at the CMA awards, as a blatant message to Toby Keith.
Keith has been, at best, a reluctant critic of the Chicks, often simply requesting
that Maines give her radical politics a rest in favor of playing music.
It seems that Keith's proud patriotism and reluctance to back down in the
face of Maines' shrill criticism is simply too irksome for the pudgy exhibitionist.
Many pundits believe Maines' comments stem from a sincere political ideology,
while others attribute he rhetoric to a misguided business move; it may be
either of these. However, my experience with the Dixie Chicks leads me to
As some of my readers know, I play country music. I play hard core honky
tonk, western swing and bluegrass at any festival or bar that will have me.
I don’t make much money at it, and I certainly don’t play many of the same
venues as the Dixie Chicks. Although, in the mid-nineties our paths did cross.
It was at the annual Merle Watson festival in North Wilkesboro, NC, where
we met. I was there as an artist’s guest, enjoying hanging out with my heroes
back stage. Guy Clark, Ralph Stanley, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Junior
Brown, Doc Watson, and Natalie MacMaster were there, as well as many other
country luminaries. Also on the bill was a band few people had ever heard
of, The Dixie Chicks. There was a publicity buzz around the Chicks (the next
big thing), so we all hung around the main stage to see if they were any
good; they weren’t. Actually, they really stunk! They were awkward on stage,
inept musicians, and poor singers. The majority of the crowd, and all of
the musicians got up and left.
The next day, I found myself sharing a table with the Chicks. They were cute,
and were trying hard to get my attention, so I ate lunch with them. I decided
to give them the benefit of the doubt, believing that they were young and
green, and would become better musicians as they gained experience. I was
having a pretty nice time until they opened their mouths.
Think back for a moment, to high school. Do you remember the girl on the
cheer-leading squad, who always hung with the popular kids, was bleached
blonde and bubbly, and had not a thought in her head? She was the girl that
everyone liked because she was fun to be around, but whom everyone made fun
of. She carried a D average, at best, giggled constantly and loudly, and
never shut up. She talked about pop singers, television shows, fashion, the
popularity of her schoolmates, and beyond that knew nothing. She was the
girl who thought we fought the British in World War Two to free us from the
king. The Dixie Chicks were three of that girl!
I soon developed a pounding headache from listening to the Chicks snipe at
each other about their make-up and hair, and giggle like Mickey Mouse. I
gave them a polite excuse, and moved down the table. I could never have imagined
that within a few short years they would be one of the most popular bands
in the country. The fact that they were even called country made me sick.
Last year, I heard a few songs from the latest Dixie Chicks album on the
radio. "Wow," I thought, " this is great!" The songs were pure country, the
singing had a great depth of tone and the instrumentals were tight. You can’t
fake musicianship in acoustic music, you either have the chops or you don’t.
They had the chops. They didn’t sound anything like the Dixie Chicks I met
only a few years before. I thought they had matured into talented musicians;
then, they opened their mouths. Once again, I was reminded that these girls
are just pretty little idiots.
Just like the ditsy cheer-leader from high school, the Dixie Chicks will
say whatever they think is popular. My theory is that living in the loony
left dominated music industry, where Sheryl Crow and Barbara Striesand are
considered to be deep political thinkers, Natalie just thought her leftist
diatribe was cool. Furthermore, she proved that the Chicks have not matured.
She does not have the intelligence information that the President has, nor
does she have the President’s responsibility. She is a musician and a singer
and nothing more.
As illustrated in a story told by Johnny Gimble, fiddle player for the legendary
Bob Wills, a musician does not have the same outlook as a leader or as most
Americans. "When I was a little boy, my momma asked what I wanted to be when
I grew up. I told her I wanted to be a fiddle player (musician). Son, she
said, you can’t do both."
That said, I won’t be buying any Dixie Chicks cds, French wines or frois
gras any time soon. I will buy Darryl Worley’s "Have You Forgotten." American
wine is getting better all the time, and Australia and Spain produce much
better varietals than the increasingly tapped out soil of Bordeaux. What’s
more, domestic goose or duck liver is identical to any fancy French version.
We need not miss our fair weather friends a bit. I do not wish to see my
hard earned money go to support leftists or anti-Americanism of any stripe.
To quote a real country singer, Merle Haggard, "When you’re running down
this country, you’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me."
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