Monday, May 05, 2003

Good On 'Em

I'm not an enormous fan of the Dixie Chicks, primarily because Natalie Maines often has the look of an evil troll who recently discovered gel and hairspray, but credit where credit is due.

A defiant and battle-hardened Dixie Chicks hit the national stage Thursday night, and in a defining moment for the one-time country darlings, they invited a thrashing.

"If you're here to boo, we welcome that. ... We're going to give you 15 seconds to get whatever you have out."

But fans wanted to get past the controversy and on to the music.

[. . .]

Thursday night the Chicks performed "Travelin' Soldier" and another message song, "Truth #2," about not being afraid to speak your mind.

Introducing it, Maines said, "After the last two months, this song makes a whole lot of sense to me." Then she began to sing: "You don't like the sound of the truth coming from my mouth ..."

Fans remained on their feet watching images on the video screen. There were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and other civil rights activists. Subtitles that said, "Seek the Truth," "Freedom" and "Shut Up" accompanied footage of demonstrations.

Under the title "Then," the screen showed people stomping Beatles records and burning books. Under the title "Now," it showed people stomping the Chicks' "Fly" CD.

[. . . ]

Maines initially defended her statement, then apologized, called it a joke and apologized again. Then the band gave a teary interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer.

But after that, something changed with the Chicks. In a move obviously calculated to challenge the attitudes of country fans, they posed nude on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, which hits newsstands today.

Thursday night, they had a new message. During "Truth #2," a video montage showed abortion rights and gay rights demonstrations along with historic civil rights marches.

It was a unmistakable signal that the Chicks are bringing a new and daring voice to country music.

During the last song, this message flashed on the video screen: "We are changing the way we do business."

Looks like the Chicks have developed a backbone.

Maybe, if we're all lucky, this little story will finally be put to rest (well, for everybody but this guy). Oddly, I find myself hoping that they say something else that'll stir the shit-pot that is the slack-jawed fan base of country music.