It’s been 12 years. Is country music ready to get over it?
On March 10 2003, the Dixie Chicks played a show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire Theatre in England. Lead singer Natalie Maines paused between songs and said, “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.”
It was an off-the-cuff comment. Little did the Dixie Chicks know the had set off a bomb heard around the world.
A couple of weeks later, about half of the 148 country radio stations tracked by Billboard were not playing Dixie Chicks music. One station in Louisiana even hired a 33,000-pound tractor to demolish Dixie Chicks CDs in the parking lot, much to the delight of a sizable crowd gathered for the stunt.
In a statement, Maines said she made the comment, because she felt frustrated the president was pushing for war with Iraq.
“I feel the president is ignoring the opinions of many in the United States 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,” said Maines.
Not everyone felt the Dixie Chicks should be banished. The trio’s loyal fans defended them and turned up in droves to their shows. Their subsequent tours almost entirely sold out, and their 2006 album, Taking the Long Way won several Grammys.
However, they went on an official hiatus in 2008.
Will they ever be welcomed back to Music Row with open arms? I hope so. They’re some of the best songwriters and musicians around.