Monday, March 11, 2013

Dixie Chicks: On Morbidity & Symbolism

Dear Muse,

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of country music. It is, next to rap, usually my least favorite thing to listen to. With one exception: the Dixie Chicks.

The Dixie Chicks' music is one of my childhood staples. When my brother and sister and I were little, we had a nanny (a real honest-to-goodness Kentuckian) who would play their albums in her car whenever she had to drive us anywhere. I thought they were OK, until their 2006 album Taking the Long Way came out. Now, this group of women has my everlovin' respect.

Source: via Ariel on Pinterest                                                                Source: via Ariel on Pinterest

So, without further ado, here are two of my favorite Dixie Chicks music videos.

Two Notable Dixie Chicks Videos

1. "Goodbye Earl" (Fly)

Remember when I talked about morbid songs in my last post? This song falls into the "enjoyably morbid" category. Yes, it involves murder. But wouldn't you agree that it gives you a satisfied feeling? I feel the same impure delight in listening to this song as I do when listening to Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou cackle over cannibalism in "A Little Priest" (Sweeney Todd).

2. "Not Ready to Make Nice" (Taking the Long Way)

This song was the first single released from Taking the Long Way and is the Dixie Chicks' biggest hit in the U.S. to date. It's not hard to see why. After all, "Not Ready to Make Nice" represents several things.

First, the song is a response to the most controversial blowout in the Dixie Chicks' career: all the flak they received for their open criticism of (Ex)President Bush in 2003.  It is, as member Emily Robison describes, an autobiographical song. So it has historical significance.

(Speaking of history, that really makes me want to watch their documentary Shut Up & Sing...)

Source: via Ariel on Pinterest

Second, it's a case for the irony of American free speech. "You're free to say what you want - just be prepared for protests, death threats and/or other violent responses." Like those the Dixie Chicks received during their Top of the World Tour. (My god, conservative Americans...) The death threats in particular call to mind what Diane Glass said on the subject: "intolerance of legal free speech has always been un-American." 

Hear, hear. Why boast about free speech in America if other Americans call you out on what you say??

Third (and possibly a rebuttal to that last rhetorical question), the song is so defiant that it's glorious to listen to. That's enough of a reason to boast about it, don't you think?

                                                            Source: via Ariel on Pinterest

Fourth, the music video for "Not Ready to Make Nice" is symbolically striking. Particularly in regards to "un-American" censorship. There's a sort of liberation in this dramatic put-down. (Natalie Maines speaks in more detail about the "liberating" Incident here.)

Despite the controversy, I still think the Dixie Chicks are fantastic. And they will continue to be until they spark controversy over something I really disagree with. (For the record, I agree with their opinion of Bush. After the 8-year economic and military sinkholes he landed us in, I would love to hear any arguments for why he wasn't a presidential failure.)

                                                                   Next: another showtunes review!

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