Updated: Sep 18, 2020
On March 10, 2003, at a concert in London, Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines took a moment to speak to the audience and admonish the invasion of Iraq by then-sitting president George W. Bush. The Texas native stated, “We don't want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” These words set off a metaphorical bomb in the countrymusic world. The backlash was immediate: the Dixie Chicks’ music was pulled from every radio station after thousands of phone calls were made demanding that the stations take action. The “Chicks” received death threats. Some country music stations helped lobby for a boycott of their upcoming album and tour, and country artist Toby Keith went as far as performing in front of a backdrop that featured gigantic images of Maines and Saddam Hussein. The retaliation this unstoppable country music group received trialed what future generations would refer to as “cancel culture.”
The group responded to this backlash in the way they knew best: putting it into music. On June 5, 2006, after three years of their music being ignored and undercut, the Dixie Chicks released their most well known song to date, “Not Ready to Make Nice,” which addressed Maines’ comments and the impact they had on their career. But it was by no means an apology; “Not Ready to Make Nice” doubled down on Maines’ comments. The song would go on to reach the top five in the Billboard top 100 and win the band a total of five Grammys. However, as the group doubled down, so did the radio stations, and “Not Ready to Make Nice” was only played on 14 of 123 radio stations. Now the year is 2019: the Dixie Chicks are being introduced to a new audience through a collaboration with the band’s number-one fan, Taylor Swift. It appears that this audience might not be old enough to remember the summer of 2003, particularly because radio stations seem to have no hold-ups about playing the emotional “Soon You’ll Get Better.” On the heels of this triumph, the band has decided that there is no time like the present to announce their first album in 13 years, with a title that reads in today’s climate as both a political and personal declaration: Gaslighter.
Pop-culture column by Hannah Davis Johns, Staff Writer