Aug 7, 2006 

March 10, 2003 Natalie Maines of the popular country group Dixie Chicks, announced at a concert in London, England, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas”.  News traveled fast from London and within minutes, every country music station across the country commented on Ms. Maines words.  This was a time of emotional turmoil in our country.  It still is. 

Did Ms. Maines and her musical counterparts want to make a statement, draw some kind of reaction?  It would appear so.  No one announces a political or religious belief in that type of environment without intending to make a  statement.  And that she did.  Radio stations banned music by the band and listeners called for boycotts across the US.  People called radio stations in shock and disbelief. 

Journalist Jake Easton of Radok News wrote a column describing the uproar.  He quoted various radio stations who commented on the publics outcry for a boycott and their disbelief that the group would attack the President.  Texas residents were especially angry that the band would attack one of Texas’s own. 

The Dixie Chicks were in London riding the waves of their number one album, “HOME”.  Their concert was attended by thousands of music fans; those who enjoyed the music and wanted to share in the bands success.  They did not pay to attend a political event. 

Our Bill of Rights states we have the right to speak freely.  And we do.  America is full of individuals rallying and picketing and creating affiliations to express their opinions.  This is what our country is about.  We fought for that right and we won.   And we continue to fight for that right in various forms; religious statues on public property, what have you.  What was not considered when the Bill of Rights was created was that people would use their careers (outside of politics) to express their opinion.  It is not fair for Natalie Maines or even Toby Keith to express their personal political opinions at a musical concert people are paying to experience.  The fans did not come for a political commentary.  They came to hear a band play their music.  Sure, make a song about politics if they feel their opinion is important to be heard.  Just don’t take our time and money and toss your beliefs onto us and expect everything to be okay.

Mr. Easton reported of Ms. Maines apology printed on the Dixie  Chicks website.  Her comments were posted on 3/14/2003 - (Maines) "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers' lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American."

Great.   She apologized.  Whether her comments in that concert were hers personally or the belief of the entire band isn’t the issue.  The issue lies with Ms. Maines primarily because she was the one who mouthed the words.  That should have been the end.  Right?  

Obvious not.  Though the conflict did die down and stations started to play their music, the controversy was still discussed and still in the front of the minds of some Americans.  Apparently it was made clear to the band their comments were not wanted or appreciated and they should just “Shut up and sing”.  And that they did.

Today “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice” the bands response to the turmoil, is close to breaking a record for the number one spot on the radio charts.  Number one for almost ten weeks now.  If you haven’t heard the song, you either don’t listen to the radio or zone out when it’s on because it’s played on top 40 stations and country stations alike.  This baffles me beyond description.

The song has a good rhythm.  It has a good beat and to her credit, Natalie Maines does have an excellent voice.  However, the lyrics to the song are again, a blatant shot of disrespect but not to the President, to those who disagreed with Ms. Maines  and the bands comments in London.

Tell me, why is it okay for her to state her opinion to a paying audience but they cannot state theirs to them without the band getting their undies all in a bunch?  After the release of the album, Ms. Maines was quoted as saying she does not want to be a country singer.  She wants to be a top 40 singer and never wanted to be a country singer.  Another slam on her fan base.  Sure, their music is getting air time on both sides of the air waves but that’s primarily because it’s controversial.  Let’s see how far this band goes on either side after the song’s been played 1,000,000 times and everyone’s tired of it. Will they make it in the top 40 arena?  Will the country devotees still hold out their hands with affection?  It’s yet to be seen. 

I have to believe the response to this song is musical rubbernecking.  They hear the lyrics and are baffled and a little amazed so they can’t stop listening…each time it’s played.  I know I did that until I realized that not only do they continue to publicly disrespect our President but also those who disagree with their beliefs.  It’s kind of a slap in the face and whether I agree with President Bush or Natalie Maines, I do not take kindly to being treated that way. 

“Forgive, sounds good. Forget, I’m not sure I could. They say time heals everything. But I’m still waiting.” Waiting?  Waiting for what?  For those who disagreed to apologize for responding to her statement?  Fair is fair and if she can speak her mind and the mind of her band mates, then turn around is certainly fair play.  Get over it Ms. Maines.  You started it and now you’re adding fuel to the fire.  Yes, it’s a popular song but time will prove whether the Dixie Chicks have the ability to continue to draw the popularity with their next album.  

It continues to baffle me that those who feel their celebrity is an open forum for expressing their political beliefs feel put upon when their opinions are not received well from their audience and the fans respond in turn.   My mother once told me, “You made your bed, now lie in it”.  Perhaps that’s something this band should consider when writing their next album.  


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