Saturday, June 10, 2006

What The Hell Is Natalie Maines Upset About?

"Taking the Long Way," the new Dixie Chicks album, premiered at #1, making them the first female group to have three albums debut at the top. (Premiering at #1 means that retail stores have ordered large quantities of their album in anticipation of strong sales; it does not mean that there is strong customer demand for the album.) However, there is still a lot of anger over Natalie Maines' anti-Bush comments in front of concert audiences in London, England and other venues during the Chicks' last tour. Many country music stations are refusing to play the first two singles released from the new album.

I was never a Chicks fan; my apathy towards country music generally combined with my disgust at Maine's public immaturity extinguished any fleeting desire in me to listen to their work. However, a fellow blogger commented on the new album and piqued my interest. A blurb on AOL Sessions piqued it further, and what the hell, I didn't have to give them any money to listen....

"Not Ready to Make Nice" is a excellent song, and Natalie Maine's performance is powerful. There's no doubt that she feels she has been wronged, and that the reaction of her fans both angered and dismayed the group. In a vacuum, the song and the group's rendition of it is extremely compelling from an artistic viewpoint. But watching Maine's answer to the question of what the 'Bush comment' and its repercussions meant to the group, makes it clear that the woman, brilliant singer and songwriter that she clearly is, just doesn't get it. Not only is she clueless about current events, she just doesn't understand why her fans were alienated. Her fellow Chicks seemingly suffer from the same shortsightedness, chortling at the coincidence of their album release occurring at the same time Bush's poll ratings are at a low. (Not that I care about poll ratings or anything, but the overt schadenfreude is symptomatic of the immaturity that got the Chicks into their mess.)

Ms. Maines evidently doesn't understand that words have consequences. Instead, "Not Ready to Make Nice" is an in-your-face to all of her fans; how dare they stop buying Dixie Chicks albums and concert tickets! The fans' reaction "...turned my whole world around... and I kinda liked [my life the way it was]" sings Ms. Maines. Well, then, at the risk of saying the obvious, perhaps you should have kept your kept your political observations to yourself.

"Forget... I'm not sure I could." That's Natalie Maines' view, but it also is a view shared by many of her former fans. The latest news reports indicate that the Dixe Chicks are cancelling several concerts on their current tour due to poor ticket sales.

"Not Ready to Make Nice" finishes with Ms. Maines' hubris. She sings, "They say... time heals everything... but I'm still waiting," implying that her fans who abandoned her owe her an apology.

Based upon lackluster ticket sales, the dismal Billboard performance of the two singles released to date, and the continued boycott of their songs by a large number of country and western radio stations, the fans evidently are, in the words of Ms. Maines, "...not ready to back down, still mad as hell" and believe Ms. Maines and the Dixie Chicks are the ones who need to apologize.

The Dixie Chicks need to realize that they need their fans more than the fans need them, and that people don't buy their CD or go to their concerts to hear their political opinions. If they're waiting for an apology from the fans, they'll be waiting a while longer yet.

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