Friday, May 19, 2006

Dixie Chicks Unrepentant

Remember the Dixie Chicks? It seems they are in the news, again.

This is one of those stories that's silly on one level, yet serious on another. It’s also a story that's so much a sign of the times. The Chicks have a new CD, "Taking the Long Way", and once again they are ruffling feathers.

Think about it: being outspoken about one's anti-war sentiments was hardly a detriment to a musician’s career in the Vietnam War era. Sure, it hurt with some fans and helped with others, but being personally against the steadily more unpopular war would hardly have ended a thriving career in Show Biz. Even Jane Fonda's movies were well-attended, in spite of her anti-war antics.

Now, with the war in Iraq being seen as such an obvious mistake, and getting more bad press all the time, it’s interesting that the Dixie Chicks are still so bitterly offensive to the country music business crowd.

So, this story is about pandering and punishment, too. It’s also about how totally right-wing-corporate the country music business has gotten over time. Alas, Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash must be spinning in their graves. Read the Billboard Story:

“...After hearing the album, WKIS Miami program director Bob Barnett says he was ‘excited about the opportunity to introduce some great Chicks music to the listeners.’ But the group’s decision to come with ‘Not Ready’ as the lead single left him ‘stunned, especially in light of the fact that, when asked, programmers and consultants that listened to the project were virtually unanimous in saying we should put the politics behind us and concentrate on all this other great music we were hearing.’”

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd say they are trying to leave "Country Music" and go mainstream.

They are doing this by releasing their album at the low point of Bush's popularity and reminding listeners where they stand on the issues - there in the majority if they go mainstream. If they pander to traditional Country Music fans with that kind of message their careers are over and they know it.

It's nothing more than a business decision. And not a bad one of you ask me.

F.T. Rea said...

anonymous,

I'd say you're on the money about there being a calculated business angle to the moves the Dixie Chicks have made with this new CD, so far. Since they are professional musicians who’ve had to endure being targeted by cultural warriors for punishment, why not? They still want to make a living.

Yet, to say there’s nothing more to see in this story than a strategy to broaden the Chicks' audience is to view it through a tunnel. In the wider look, this is also a story about the ongoing culture war in this country and what happens to anyone who dares to defy/challenge the hard-charging Bush administration.

As a writer who lost work because of doing that same basic thing way too soon after 9/11, I applaud what the Dixie Chicks are doing. I hope their courage and smarts will serve as inspiration to other artists to stay true to their school.

Tom C said...

Taking the Long way enters the Billboard charts at number one selling over 500,000 copies, making it one of the biggest records of the year.

The track "Not Ready to Make" nice has sold over 200,000 downloads, platinum in digital terms.