12 years ago, Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks had everything: Brains, beauty, talent, and a meteoric rise to stardom. Then, on March 10, 2003, Maines and the sisters who founded the band — Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison — crashed and burned. Why? Because of what fans applaud as Maines’ bold candor, and what former fans more likely call Maines not shutting her big, fat mouth.
History.Com explains it all started when the Dixie Chicks flew across the pond for a tour and Maines felt shocked by how strongly opposed the rest of the world was to George W. Bush and the upcoming war in Iraq. Apparently, folks in the European Union don’t watch Fox News. At a show in London, Maines declared while onstage:“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas [Maines, Maguire, and Robison’s home state].”
Of course, when word got to back to the U.S., the Dixie Chicks’ country fans didn’t like it one bit. CNN reports the backlash came fast and hard.
It didn’t matter that the evidence to invade Iraq was questionable or that Maines later apologized. The damage was done, and one of the most popular acts in the country became its most hated. Its music was banned from radio, CDs were trashed by bulldozers, and one band member’s home was vandalized.
But do fans see things differently now that Maines’ reservations about the war in Iraq turned out to be right on target? Doubtful. As of CNN’s report in 2013, many of the Dixie Chicks former fans still bore a grudge: A Country Music TV poll asked whether the Dixie Chicks should be forgiven, and over a third still answered “no.”
Oh, and then Maines, Maquire and Robison had to deal with all the death threats. Bush II then smugly remarked:“The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say. [But] They shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out.”
While the Dixie Chicks have still done spectacularly well — they’ve sold a total of 30.5 million albums as of 2014 and raked in 13 Grammy Awards, including five in 2007 for their album, Taking the Long Way — they haven’t released an album since 2006, and things simply haven’t been the same. The group never formally broke up, they say they’re “on hiatus.” But the three have embarked on other projects including Maguire’s and Robison’s Courtyard Hounds bluegrass/folk band and Maines’ 2013 solo album Mother. These ventures have been well-received but have never reached Dixie chicks levels.
So, does Maines have any regrets about calling out George W. Bush over the expensive, destructive war he waged on false pretenses? Apparently not. Country Music Nation reports that on March 10 — the 12th anniversary of Maines’ truth bomb — she tweeted this:
This comes as no surprise to anyone who read Maines’ 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, in which she expressed more disgust with her former country fans than regret for losing them.
“I always thought they accepted us in spite of the fact that we were different. It shocked me and kind of grossed me out that people thought I would be a conservative right-winger, that I’d be a redneck. But at that time, people didn’t ask us things like, ‘What do you think of gay marriage?’ If they had, they would have learned how liberal I was. But I was so confused by who people thought I was and what I had been putting out there.”
Some may feel angry with Maines, but this writer applauds her and gratefully remembers when she and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) were among the few public figures who dared speak out against our rushing into our war with Iraq.
Here’s the video with Natalie Maines’ May 2013 interview with Time Magazine, in which she talks about free speech, why she never fit in with the country music scene, and why she can’t ever go back to singing country music.
Here’s a video with the Dixie Chicks’ defiant response to the backlash against Maines’ anti-Bush II statement.