The Never-Ending Grief I Get For Being a Dixie Chicks Fan

How people reacted to me being a Dixie Chicks fan before March 2003:

“You listen to them? What kind of a backwoods, redneck, hillbilly, sleep with your sister, right-wing nutjob are you?”

From March 2003-present:

“You listen to them? What kind of a left-wing, tree-hugging, America-hating, liberal commie nutjob are you?”

Life has to be easier for fans of soft rock.

Anyway, the journalist who has followed them for the past year has written a fascinating recount of their Grammy night: The Chicks Have Arrived. Hilarious at some points, poignant at others, it’s wonderful to see the humanity of these three talented Texas gals, particularly Ms. Natalie Maines, who lost it backstage after winning their fifth and final Grammy.

when Natalie finally walks into the dressing room to our thunderous applause, a very dark weight evaporates from her shoulders.

Natalie is crying. Bawling, really. The kind of outpouring built up for years but that has been forever blocked by an internal wall. After giving us grateful hugs, she takes a call from her mother who further reduces her to tears. She clearly absorbs the reality of this all as each minute goes by. When asked how she feels, she shares, in the most honest manner possible, that she is “emotional, sentimental, and really happy.”
Despite months of observing her, I have never heard Natalie Maines declare that she is “really happy” until this moment. I have waited for this ever since I first met the Chicks a year ago. Her family has been waiting for it. Martie and Emily have been waiting for it. Since 2003, Natalie has undoubtedly internalized and been haunted by all the drama of the last few years. She’s needed this cry, the kind of catharsis that finally allows a human being to truly move on.

I still remember my furious anger at the backlash the Chicks received, and how unjust it was that Home, my favorite album so far this decade, got lost in the shuffle of the madness that followed. Four years later, with their Grammy wins behind them, I think it was all worth it in the end. The awards don’t mend the rift – one co-worker of mine said it was a disgrace that those Bush-bashers won anything – but it does provide a reasonable bit of closure, as close to a happy ending as I could’ve hoped for.


  1. I think Chet Flippo, whose opinion I always respect but only sometimes agree with, got in completely right this week. America is a very tolerant country, but often it’s the way you express it that causes problems – the difference between showing some class and being an ass. Even my liberal friends (mostly in the 50+ crowd, because that is, after all, my age bracket) think that Natalie Maines acts like a spoiled five year old.

  2. I love your synopsis of the “before and after” reactions to being a Chicks fan. The whole issue is complicated for me. Even though I am liberal and a Chicks fan (independent of politics), I find Maines a little grating at times. I don’t think she’s an elegant speaker by any stretch of the imagination (despite the fact that I agree with what she’s saying). I’m hoping with their next album they move beyond this. Not that they shouldn’t continue to tackle controversial topics, but they shouldn’t let this define them.

  3. Chet sounded bitter to me, and desperate to make the Nashville establishment’s case. But I find myself not even caring the least bit about the critics of Maines and the band this time around. I have no interest in the overwhelmingly positive statement that was made about my favorite band and my favorite music that they’ve ever made devolving into another pissing contest with those who’d like to see them falter, or who insist on interpreting this as a political statement or a middle finger to Nashville. From my perspective, it was the best music of the past year being honored as the best music of the past year. It brought me great joy to see and I’m so thankful that the Grammys got it right in 2007. The girls made me proud!

  4. Chet was not bitter – he was simply stating facts. Personally, I feel that any voter that felt like they had to “make a statement” instead of assessing artistic merit should have their voting privileges forever revoked for they truly have betrayed the purpose of the Grammys

    p.s. – Why is all criticism of the Chix taken so personally, Kevin ? The Chix could care less about what you or I think about them. I am neither proud nor ashamed of them, after all, why should I be? I had no role whatsoever in either their artistic success or failure, and as far as I can tell, neither did you.

    If only they had made a Grammy worthy album instead of their weakest album since the last pre-Sony album

  5. See, Chet didn’t state any facts. He just expressed opinion on the Grammy voter’s motivations, which he (and you) have no way of knowing. Do you think it’s possible that you’re just projecting your own opinions of the music onto theirs? It seems that since you don’t like the album, you assume they must not like it either and just made a political statement, when it seems just as possible, if not more so, that the Grammy voters that loved their last three albums loved this one, too, and that weaker competition in the big categories gave them a clean sweep. If you believe that Grammy voters were voting politically, I have to ask if you think that I don’t really like the album, either, and I’m just pushing it for political reasons? Is everything I’ve written in praise of Taking the Long Way a fraudulent ruse on my part to reward the Chicks’ political agenda?

    I don’t take any of the Chicks criticism personally, so I don’t know where you’re getting that from. What I wrote was that it was my favorite music of 2006 (well-documented on this site, as you know) and I’m happy that what I think was the best music of 2006 was honored as such. I felt the same joy when Lee Ann Womack won the CMA’s for “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” and “There’s More Where That Came From” in 2005, when Chapin won the Grammy for Best Country Album for “Stones in the Road”, and, more than any other awards show moment, when Pam Tillis won CMA Female Vocalist of the Year in 1994. I don’t see anything wrong with being proud of artists that make music I care about. Good Lord, I’m proud of my students when they do great things that I have nothing to do with. I love watching people succeed and be rewarded for a job well done.

    (FYI, I’ve edited this comment a couple of times to make sure that I’m being as respectful to your opinions as possible. We don’t always agree, but I do respect your opinion.)

  6. I think you misread my opinion of the Chix CD – I do like (I did purchase it – after listening to it). I do not love the CD – I reserve the right to think it’s the worst of their post-Indy CDs and still like it – if I didn’t like the disc I would not have purchased it. There are some weak songs on it – I would have uprated it considerably if the had left off the infantile “Not Ready To Make Nice” and replaced it with something else (even their take on Acky Breaky Heart” or some pablum from Air Supply would have been an improvement !)

    This CD was a B, possibly a B+ . That doesn’t equate to a Grammy in my book

  7. I realize this is from a long time ago, but I had to post. I was literally jumping up and down screaming in excitement with each award they won. Long overdue. My roommates (I was in college at the time) were laughing at how hysterical I was (they’re R&B fans). But, ya know, it felt like vindication a little bit for us Chicks fans too.

    Now where’s Natalie, CYH are good but we need her back! ;)

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