When I listen to the Dixie Chicks’ music, I can feel the raw emotion they pour into it; every single time I hear “Not Ready To Make Nice” I get goose bumps from 1:47-2:18 in the song. Every. Single. Time. I just tested my theory and played that part of the song three times in a row. You know, just to be sure.
I started listening to the Dixie Chicks in 2006 when their album, Taking the Long Way was released. I think it was a country music lovin’ co-worker who first introduced me to the song, “Not Ready to Make Nice.” This co-worker must have been one of the fans who continued to listen to the Dixie Chicks, despite their 2003 fallout with country music radio stations all over the United States.
If you don’t know much about the Dixie Chicks and absorbed the conventional opinion that they’re anti-patriotic, I’d recommend checking out the documentary Shut Up & Sing (your public library might carry it–the Denver Public Library has numerous copies). I watched it first in 2006 and then for the second time this past weekend. It’s always disappointing, but not shocking, to see the media feed the fears and feed on the fears of citizens. This is basically what happened in 2003 when the Dixie Chicks’ lead singer Natalie Maines made a negative comment about George W. Bush during one of their concerts. From there, many fans turned on the Dixie Chicks and country music stations banned their music. Their Taking the Long Way album responded to the controversy that resulted from the George W. Bush comment and “Not Ready To Make Nice” is specifically about a death threat that Maines received.
I hopped on the internet after re-watching Shut Up & Sing this weekend, because I realized it’s been 10 years since Taking The Long Way was released and I haven’t heard anything new from the Dixie Chicks. To my delight, I discovered they’re going on tour this year, with the release of what looks like an album titled MMXVI. For you non-Roman Numeral minded folk, that translates to 2016. My immediate reaction was, “Holy cow! 10 years is a long time between album releases.” But then a satisfaction swept over me as I realized what 10 years could indicate.
I don’t’ know, because I’m not part of the band, but what I like to believe is that the Dixie Chicks value doing things their way (they aren’t kidding about “taking the long way”), which could mean taking their time and not rushing it. Because authenticity takes time; because living out a life to write vulnerable songs about takes time; because the creative process is filled with dead ends and demons, both of which—you guessed it—take time to navigate and face.
I’m excited to listen to MMXVI. I appreciate that the Dixie Chicks are still sharing their gift with the world, even if being a fan of theirs means practicing patience.