It’s time for the Dixie Chicks to come back already.
It’s been eight years since the trio put out their last album, and in that time they’ve mostly been on hiatus, spending time with their families and embarking on new projects. But after a tour in Canada and Europe last fall, and their recent performance at the C2C country music festival in London, the famed bluegrass and country group — consisting of Natalie Maines and sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire — have been giving fans renewed hope for some kind of stateside tour or, fingers crossed, a new album.
In the meantime, while we’re praying, let us relive some of the reasons why they’re so amazing.
1. They’re all badass musicians who SHRED on their respective instruments.
The Robison sisters both play a whole breadth of instruments, but as part of the Chicks, Emily made a name playing a mean banjo. Martie is masterful on the fiddle, and while Natalie is mostly known for her raw, powerful voice, she also kills it on the guitar.
2. They made traditional bluegrass and country fun for mainstream pop listeners.
The Dixie Chicks transcended the country scene, selling more albums in 1998 than every country act combined that year, and they continued to reign as the highest-selling country group through the early aughts. As of May 2013, the Dixie Chicks are the best-selling female band of all time, and the biggest selling country group in the U.S. during the Nielsen SoundScan era (1991-present).
3. Their hit “Wide Open Spaces” was all about finding yourself and giving yourself space to make mistakes.
Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about
Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone
And, for some reason, we got these amazing shots of sisters Emily and Martie jumping (trampolining?) in the background of this surreal green-screen landscape.
Ah, the ’90s.
4. They crafted beautiful ballads that brought us to tears.
Like “Traveling Soldier,” off their 2002 album, Home.
5. And “Cowboy Take Me Away” is still just as fresh of a love song today as it was over a decade ago.
6. But even though they could be sweet and tender, they were also equally fierce. Their song “Goodbye Earl” was a big “fuck you” to domestic violence.
Dark? Yes. But the Dixie Chicks have no time for anyone’s abuse.
7. And they definitely weren’t afraid of speaking their minds when they had something to say. At a show in London in March 10, 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war, Natalie said two sentences that changed the group’s career forever.
“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.”
8. Those words essentially got them banned from radio, and they were subjected to death threats, boycotts, and burnings of their albums.
Following Maines’ comments, conservative blogs like Free Republic organized nationwide boycotts, and radio stations gave into pressure to stop playing the trio’s music. They were effectively shut out of the country music scene.
9. But they kept on keeping on.
They continued to stir up controversy later that year, posing nude for the cover of Entertainment Weekly in May 2003, covered in the words thrown at them by both supporters and detractors.
“Our publicist was freaking out and trying to talk us out of it,” Maguire told EW. “But it had to be all the way, like with the ‘Sadaam’s Angels’ stuff. Those were real things people were writing to us in e-mails and posting on the web. There were publicists and people at the shoot who were trying to get us to tone that down, but we felt like you can’t go half way when you’re naked.”
And they never let the controversy silence them, as painful as the backlash could be.
10. In 2006, they threw up the middle finger to those who tried to silence them with a raw and powerful song called “Not Ready To Make Nice.”
Off their 2006 album Taking The Long Way, the women addressed the incident and refused to apologize for speaking their minds: “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.”
11. They even joked about returning to the “scene of the crime” at a show in London.
And Natalie repeated her famous words, because she is that much of a badass.
12. And when they won FIVE Grammys in 2007 — including Album of the Year — it was total vindication.
And winning Record of the Year for “Not Ready To Make Nice” was extra sweet.
13. Natalie Maines spoke about the reaction to her 2003 comments on Larry King Live in 2006:
“Everyone called me unpatriotic and that I didn’t support the troops because I didn’t support the war,” she said. “I see their point of view, but to me I am patriotic because I didn’t want people to die without a reason handed to us […] When you’re over in London, everyone’s talking about Americans like we’re all one, and we all think the same, and that bothered me.”
14. After a successful tour last year in Canada and Europe, the Chicks have been playing more shows recently, even covering Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.”
Obviously they killed it.
Since the Dixie Chicks are sort of the precursor to the outspoken country-pop crossover that Miley is for this generation… what would they have up their sleeve today?
Our guess is they’d make us fall in love all over again with their strength, their heartfelt music, and their truthful voices.
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