Album Review: Dixie Chicks, Playlist: The Very Best of Dixie Chicks

Dixie Chicks
Playlist: The Very Best of Dixie Chicks

For those of us who were living and breathing country fans from 1998 to 2006, the idea of a Dixie Chicks compilation is unnecessary.  Some of us have all four albums and listen to them in different proportions, while a fairly large part of their audience haven’t bothered with them since 2003.

But Playlist, the first compilation of the Natalie Maines-helmed era of the band, is the only career-spanning introduction for those who may be discovering them for the first time.  Don’t let its existence as part of an established budget line fool you, either. The twelve tracks found on this collection were picked by the Chicks themselves, not a record executive or chart history buff.

All four of the Chicks albums are critically acclaimed and were commercially successful. Heck, all four of them won the Grammy for Best Country Album to boot.  So my instinct is to call this the best case for just buying the original albums since the first Emmylou Harris hits set.  But I say this as someone who would reflexively tell listeners to buy Home and Taking the Long Way first, and I know of several country music fans and journalists who would swap out one or both of those titles in favor of Wide Open Spaces and Fly.

So the beauty of this set is that it picks a handful of tracks from each album that are truly representative of each set.  The Chicks made four very different albums. Wide Open Spaces, a debut set that seemed bold at the time but is almost quaint in its conventionalism today, is represented by the title track and “You Were Mine”, two #1 hits that are easily the strongest of the five singles from that album.

The selections from Fly are where things get interesting. That album produced seven top twenty hits, but only one of them is here: the #1 hit “Cowboy Take Me Away.”  While a case could be made for including “Goodbye Earl” as well, the set is stronger for including their tender cover of Patty Griffin’s “Let Him Fly” and the fearless “Sin Wagon”, which is the best pre-Home showcase of Martie Maguire and Emily Robison’s jaw-dropping instrumental prowess.

Home is their best album to date, and while I miss the absent “Travelin’ Soldier” and “Top of the World”, the inclusion of Griffin’s “Truth No. 2” alongside smash hits “Long Time Gone” and “Landslide” is fair compensation.  And while Taking the Long Way produced only one big hit, “Not Ready to Make Nice”, it is joined by three more great autobiographical  hits that should’ve been: “The Long Way Around”, “Easy Silence”, and “Lubbock or Leave It.”

Is it a perfect collection? No. But it’s close enough, and a much better reflection of the band’s best work than a traditional hits collection could ever be. If you’re looking for a strong introduction to the most talented and successful country band of the past 25 years, this is the place to start.


  1. The Dixie Chicks were such an incredibly talented group, and I’m glad to see that they finally have a compilation album to their name. While I am sorry that “Travelin’ Soldier,” one of their best, was not included, this does seem like a solid package overall, and a good introduction for anyone who is just now discovering the riches of the Chicks’ music. I’m also glad to see that this album is more of a reflection of who they are as artists as opposed to a simple and concise Greatest Hits package.

  2. This is awesome!! I was considering buying albums Fly and Wide Open Spaces because there are many great songs on both; Now I can just buy this album!!!!

  3. JoJo,

    You’ll wanna still get both of those records. They’re great. Agree w/ya on this one Kevin. Still I gave it a double grade High for tunes, lower for package although the amazon digital price of $5 is pretty nice.

  4. I was actually a little disappointed by the tracklisting of this album, simply because some of the Playlist releases for other artists have included unreleased tracks or different versions, and there’s none of that here. I bought the Martina McBride one for that reason, but I wouldn’t do the same with the Dixie Chicks one.

  5. I agree this is a great starting point for anyone who doesn’t own their albums, but I wish the tracklist contained about 20 songs so it could have included “I Can Love You Better”, “There’s Your Trouble”, “Without You”, “Goodbye Earl” and two of my personal favorites “Voice Inside My Head” and “Heartbreak Town”. Maybe we’ll see a different compilation some day which would hold up as a strong catalog seller. Maybe not though, considering the way the record industry is gravitating toward singles over albums.

  6. “Ready To Run” is one I wish was on here. Just glad “Wide Open Spaces” and Cowboy Take Me Away” are on here though.
    Sam B, I agree both albums are great! I’ve listened to them quite a bit on their myspace page.

  7. This is going to take guts to say…. “I wasn’t originally a fan of their sound,” but now I have to say I was COMPLETELY WRONG… Super talented singers, players and writers… Defnintely one of the best groups in many years… More than that, they captured the imagination and were role models for many up and coming young female artists… I definitely will buy the CD for my two daughters… ages 14 and 16 who play piano, guitar and sing… !!!

  8. I miss the Chicks! Talk about incredibly talented and refreshing. It’s a shame that all the political stuff had the outcome it did (whatever view one may take). Hopefully the Courtyard Hounds will take root and we can all move on and enjoy some incredible talent.

  9. Last time I checked, Traveling Soldier was one of their most popular songs. Why wasn’t it included?
    Anyways, they really should re-record their older material with Natalie.

  10. I agree with SamB; I was hoping for something previously unreleased to sweeten the pot. I do appreciate that this collection emphasizes their artistry rather than commercial success, but the chronological sequencing seems uninspired to me. Yes, you can trace the evolution of their music over these four albums, but it seems like handpicking fourteen songs would lead to something more thoughtful.

    All in all, though, a solid snapshot of their career to date. Fans should definitely have the original releases, but it’s nice to have remastered tracks from the first three albums that don’t sound weak next to the “Taking the Long Way” album.

  11. TTLW? really, lol, j/k. I admit, it took a while for me to grab onto that album after my intense love of “Home”, but the more I listen to it, the more I love it. I especially disagree with leaving “Goodbye Earl” off the playlist, but with 4 amazing albums, with hardly a filler song among them, it’s impossible to settle on 12 songs everyone will agree are the best to demonstrate their abilities.

  12. In the past I wouldn’t admit to my friends that I like DC.. But that has changed and I find myself singing along with them on the radio when I am driving down the road.

  13. I have been following the Dixie Chicks shortly after their inception in 1989. Pity they are hardly active at all nowadays. I regret not being able to attend for the Eagles 2010 Summer Tour where the Dixie Chicks were present.

    Timothy Cassar
    Webmaster – Cash Advance Loans

  14. I couldn’t agree more with your comment that “All four of the Chicks albums are critically acclaimed and were commercially successful. Heck, all four of them won the Grammy for Best Country Album to boot. ”
    Not only are they critically acclaimed but they are also very accessible to “non critics”. I have all four albums and play them in the car as I go to work. Heck, I grew up on the Dixie Chciks.

    Chris Purnell,
    DIY Blogger at: Paslode Framing Nailers

  15. I agree with Patrick, Travelling Soldier was one of their popular songs, and i too wished it was included in the album. But still the DC rules! Love country music! I hope Scooty Mccreey or Lauren sings one of their songs in American Idol. That’ll be cool to see.

    Kimberly Harris – “SEO Company that Cares!

  16. Wow! These albums really rock! I definitely love listening to this kind of music and it really caught my eyes and serenades me very much! =D These are very wonderful!

  17. Yep it’s always gonna be hard for them to appease everyone creating a compilation album which condenses the best of the 4 previous albums.

    Whatever way you look at it they’re never gonna please everyone are they – there is bound to be tracks that some people think should be on there and other tracks that other people will argue should be on there too.

    The bottom line is though, regardless of the debates over which songs, there are so many dman good tracks that it doesn’t matter – it’s one rocking Dixie Chicks Album that won’t disappoint!

  18. This is a great compilation of some of their best work.

    As a Dixie Chicks fan, Playlist is a great traveling companion when you want to take a bit of the chicks along with you.

    Maybe not perfect, but pretty dam good

  19. Part of the Chicks’ greatness, I’m convinced, is because they just don’t do things the way most traditional country acts have done them over time, not even duos, vocal groups, or bands. Setting aside politics, which I think are an overemphasized sidebar issue to begin with, and the fact that they’re women, they are willing to do material that often throws down the gauntlet at Nashville’s feet, like with “Long Time Gone”, or at red-state morals in “Lubbock Or Leave It”, while engaging in more traditional West Texas-style country (“Cowboy Take Me Away”).

    Their absence from the charts and the airwaves is keenly felt because, in my opinion, they’re the kind of group/band that cannot really be duplicated in sound and musical scope, nor do I think the level of success they experience will ever be replicated by any other group in country music.

  20. Dixie Chicks is my favorite American band. The beautiful women who play the music make many people love them. I love all the songs they play.

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