Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sweet Dixie

The first single from the new Dixie Chicks album, "Not Ready To Make Nice," has already pricked the shit kickin' faithful.

"It is, as one country radio programmer says [to Time magazine], 'a four-minute fuck you to the format and our listeners. I like the Chicks, and I won't play it.'"

Neither will a number of other country radio stations, it seems.

To quote some aging frat boy playing fighter pilot man -- Mission Accomplished.

The Chicks are back, gone the pop rock route, and have flushed that tepid, commercially-pressured apology for criticizing Dear Leader on the eve of his glorious war.

"I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President," says Natalie Maines in the same Time story. "But I don't feel that way anymore. I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever."

I'm not big on the Chicks sound, but the loud Fuck You to their erstwhile fans does make me smile. And while a good portion of the Chicks' renewed anger is market rebranding, you can sense that they truly mean what they say, especially Maines, who holds little nostalgia for their more acceptable, commercial persona.

"I never wrote anything from my point of view. Even if it was something that happened to me, I would write it like it was a character and I was telling someone else's story ... That's not very brave."

Martie Maguire adds, "I'd rather have a smaller following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."

Considering how Keith, jingo cowboy supreme, crudely conflated the Chicks' mild dissent with a fondness for Saddam Hussein to the primal delight of his fans, Maguire's contempt is understandable. Music is the international language, but there are areas of contemporary country that are decidedly fenced-in and tone deaf to democratic debate, and acts like Keith profit shamelessly from this tribalism and ignorance. There are a lot of stupid, violent Americans who'll pay to have hacks shout their idiocy and aggressive fantasies back at them; and though the Chicks never took that twisted path, they did at one time play to these Americans, as the subsequent fallout (and death threats) showed. Small wonder, then, that they feel relieved to be away from this crowd.

By the way -- and please forgive my weakness here -- when looking at the above photo of the Chicks, I still cannot fathom what was going through Christopher Hitchens' fading mind when he called them "fucking fat slags." Perhaps, as with much of his public rhetoric, this was sheer projection. I've seen Hitchens naked -- trust me, not a pretty or healthy sight. Beauty may be relative, but I'll take the Dixie Chicks over that fat slag any time.

ENJOY: This segment from "Mr. Show," which parodies the type of Americans and country singers the Chicks have abandoned. And thanks to all those who showed my feeble tech ass how to post a vid clip.