Friday, June 16, 2006

What to make of the Dixie Chicks and southern self-loathing

Word is out that the Dixie Chicks are now considering cancelling or restructuring some dates on their US tour later this summer. Ticket sales are lagging badly, especially at venues in the South and Midwest. On the other hand, ticket sales are brisk in the northeast and the band has added dates in Canada.

I think the Chicks are a a great country act. I couldn't get enough of "Wide Open Spaces" and "Fly." I looked forward to the release of their third album, "Home." However, it didn't hit home with me. Something was missing. I figured it out when I watched part of their NBC special that aired just after the release. I found the performance somnambulant. To me, much of the drive behind their music was provided by a Maines. Not lead singer Natalie, who is a great vocalist, but her dad, Lloyd. I love his steel guitar playing on the first two albums. It's missing on "Home" and he didn't even break out the pedal steel during the NBC special.

I haven't listened to the new album, "Taking the Long Way." I understand they move away from country with the latest offering. They also seem to be taking advantage of the controversy created by Natalie Maines's comments about GW Bush and Iraq and the fan reaction to it. Maines has taken back her apology for the comment and seems to revel in her new found celebrity outside the country music fan base. If that's how she wants it, fine with me.

However, Maines will get no kudos for her courage from me. While I haven't listened to the new music, I did read the lyrics to one of the tunes, "Lubbock or Leave It," and it's not a sentimental journey through Maines's hometown. I find the lyrics quite bitter, which convinces me of something I've assumed for the past few years, Maines is a self-loathing southerner. It's seems every public statement she makes is geared to reject many of the cultural traits of southerners, including patriotism. I suspect she is trying to establish her bonafides with a non-country audience by completly breaking with her past. Anyway, if I've learned one thing in life it's if you're not happy with where you live, it's not necessarily the town that's the problem.

If Maines and the Chicks want to move into a more pop/rock oriented genre, I wish them luck. Maines's backing vocals on Sheryl Crow's "Abeline" helped make it one of my favorite Crow tunes, but I don't know if the Robison sisters have the ability to hang instrumentally outside country. We'll see how works out. I'm sure down the line they'll be welcomed back if they want to return to country. I'm sorry they felt it necessary to try and blow up the bridge at Remagen.

All is not dour and sour in this tale. Lubbock-born musician Billy Briggs wrote a quirky reply to "Lubbock or Leave It," entitled "Trouble in the Henhouse." Even though he now lives near Dallas, his Texas Panhandle upbringing didn't seem to scar him as it did Maines. Here's the tune and lyrics.

12 Comments:

Blogger Cara Michele said...

"Anyway, if I've learned one thing in life it's if you're not happy with where you live, it's not necessarily the town that's the problem."

Amen. On so many levels. And well-said.

6/16/2006  
Blogger Admin said...

Southerners have good reason to be self-loathing. It is the town, not the person, that's usually the problem.

I find it hard to believe that someone as literate as you would embrace the "shut your damn mouth" lyrics just because the Chicks withheld the steel guitar. But, if you seriously want to wear that "proud to be an ignorant redneck" hat, it's your right to humiliate yourself.

Maines should have dumped the sisters right after the controversy. Their soccer mom civility was of no help to her, and their support seemed to come with a scolding. Maines would be a kick ass solo artist by now, and the sisters could continue to play every bluegrass festival that came through Lubbock, and everyone would be happy.

6/16/2006  
Blogger Glenn said...

Thanks for the comment Cara Michelle. I've always thought the greatest trick in life is learning to be comfortable in your own skin. It's easier said than done.

I appreciate your comment too Chewie, espcially the part about me being "literate."

Don't get me wrong, the Chicks only lost me stylistically (I guess we were never on the same page politically.) It wasn't that they simply had steel guitar in the music, it was the way Lloyd Maines played it that attracted me.

Natalie Maines can say whatever she pleases. However, many of her comments have been very judgmental and the Lubbock song is certainly a one-sided tale for those of us who've never been there. When you adopt the tone Maines has, you have to expect return fire.I tire of hearing of the besiegment of her castle by a bunch pitch-fork toting ingnorant redneck dirt farmers.

I agree with you on the Robisons. They really didn't add much punch to the country material. They were at least good enough to stay out of the way.

6/16/2006  
Anonymous RW said...

"I find it hard to believe that someone as literate as you would embrace the "shut your damn mouth" lyrics just because the Chicks withheld the steel guitar. But, if you seriously want to wear that "proud to be an ignorant redneck" hat, it's your right to humiliate yourself."

So if someone doesn't agree with Natalie Maines (and you) then they're "an ignorant redneck"?
That sort of "I'm better than you....just ask me" attitude is part in parcel of why they're being forced to cancel concerts and have become the artists-du-jour for the far-left brigade instead of simply being an outstanding band. If history is a guide, the people obviously buying their CDs for political reasons (they're certainly not buying concert tickets...can anyone say "statement"?) will likely dump them overboard whenever their usefulness is used up. See: Sheehan, Cindy.

BTW, you lost me at "Southerners have good reason to be self-loathing". The same could be said for every region, of course, but that would be narrow-minded and selective, depending on the audience.

6/16/2006  
Anonymous bubba said...

"The same could be said for every region, of course, but that would be narrow-minded and selective, depending on the audience"

Bingo.

Nothing more needs to be said about the original remark.

6/16/2006  
Anonymous Brent said...

Chewie, if you don't like Southerners or "ignorant rednecks," Delta is ready when you are, my friend.

I knew it was a mistake for the Chicks to apologize to start. It would have gevent hem much more long-term credibility to maintain a Steve Earle or Kris Kristofferson stance. I think we can all see that the war in Iraq was a mistake, but we've gotta finish the job now that it has been started. That's where I depart from the ultra-liberals.

I agree that Lloyd drove a lot of those songs with the pedal steel. To the person who said Maines should drop the sisters, it was the sisters who picked her up. They dropped their original lead singer. I saw in interview with her, and she was a little on the homely side. I think Maines would find it difficult to depart from the group that is resposnible for anyone even knowing who she is. She started out vocally kind of like Pink, but she never would have made it to start with that genre. I believe, if I remember correctly, Maines was a student at Juliard when they picked her up. I could be wrong about that though.

6/17/2006  
Blogger Admin said...

rw: "So if someone doesn't agree with Natalie Maines (and you) then they're "an ignorant redneck"?"

No, dumbass. Someone who agrees with the "shut your damn mouth" sentiment is donning the ignorant redneck hat. If I go to a Klan rally and cheer, I would expect people to say that I'm donning a white supremacist hood. Pretty simple concept.

I have no idea where you extrapolate that I agree with Natalie Maines. And I've never been to Lubbock. You're right -- all regions of this country have reason to be self-loathing. We were talking about the South.

6/17/2006  
Anonymous RW said...

Actually, chewie, telling someone that it's a horrendous business decision to spout off in a quasi radical fashion & should instead "shut up and sing" as the saying goes, is quite a different scenario than someone going to a klan rally and cheering. That you decided to conflate the two is quite telling.

Your slip is showing, hon.

BTW, a word to the wise: calling a stranger an expletive via the internet during what was supposed to be a discussion between adults (real brave, huh?) does nothing but put a chink in one's credibility, especially then the premise is to put forth one's opinion and hope to sway others to follow suit. And, given the subject, rather ironic.

We were talking about the South.
And has been pointed out and seconded, it's narrow-minded and selective to assume that one region is to be singled out. Re-emphasizing narrow-mindedness and advantageous selectivity is not a virtue.

6/17/2006  
Blogger Admin said...

Um... OK, how's this: everyone involved on this thread, including Glenn, the Dixie Chicks and Billy Briggs, were talking about the South. Want to talk Jersey? Find a Springsteen thread.

You tripped on your skirt, littledick.

6/17/2006  
Anonymous RW said...

I apologize to the site owner for wasting pixels and bandwidth, as I mistakenly assumed I was engaging in a conversation with an adult.

6/18/2006  
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