So several years ago, Drew and I used to go to karaoke every Wednesday night. It wasn’t so much that we went to karaoke night at the bar on Wednesdays, it was more like we went to the same bar almost every night and Wednesday happened to be karaoke night. Needless to say, we opened up the show almost every week with the old country standard “You Never Even Called Me by My Name”. We’d usually follow that up later in the evening with a performance of some Dixie Chicks song. It sounds lame, perhaps, but usually we could con this amazingly hot waitress to sing with us and we’d look awesome (we had a little dance and everything). Due to our popularity, and by the request of Lounge Singer Joe (that was his real name, I think… he was an older guy that sold real-estate and would bring his old friends out to see us, and they drank pitchers of iced-tea as Drew and I consumed pitcher after pitcher of beer… he was our biggest fan, by far…), Drew and I needed to name our “band”. Since we always performed country songs, usually Dixie Chicks, we decided to go with the original name of Dixie Dudes. We toured a bit earlier in the decade, but never really hit it big in the U.S., however we were huge in Japan and Luxembourg. I was never a super huge Dixie Chicks fan, but I always enjoyed their music…
So I come home from my guitar lesson today with a few hours to kill. I decide to mess around on my new Facebook account for a bit. For a little background noise, I decided to put on a Dixie Chicks documentary entitled “Shut Up and Sing”. I didn’t really read the info on the doc, just figured it was some concert footage with a few interviews thrown in for good measure. Well, as it turns out, I didn’t do much for the next hour and a half as I was completely captivated by the documentary. As I continued to watch it, I become more and more pissed off. I decided I needed to vent for a while and lucky for you, here goes!
Back in 2003, just before president Bush sent us to war with Iraq (because of all their weapons of mass destruction they didn’t have, if you recall), the Dixie Chicks were in the midst of a world tour and had made a stop in London. At one point in the show, the lead singer, Natalie Maines, made the wee little comment that the Dixie Chicks “were ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” That little statement stirred up the proverbial hornets’ nest as it turned out. At this time in the United States President Bush had a very high approval rating as we blood-thirsty Americans couldn’t wait to bomb more brown people (r.i.p. George Carlin). The comment literally heard ’round the world became a rallying cry for all of the close-minded, sexist, tail-tucking, bandwagon, redneck, right-wing, conservative, dipshit, imbeciles in this country wanting to lynch the artists who had sold more records than anyone in the world over the previous 5+ years.
I grew more and more upset and riveted as I continued to watch. I have friends in the radio industry and knew to some degree about many of the country radio stations not playing the Dixie Chicks for a spell. I had no idea that there were several radio stations that would put special trashcans in front of their offices so people could come buy and throw away all of their Dixie Chicks paraphernalia (kind of reminds me of a good old-fashioned book burnin’). Dj’s were suspended from country music stations if they played songs by the Dixie Chicks. I also had no idea that these giant radio corporations (Cumulus for example, who at the time owned over 250 radio stations) put a full-scale ban on any Dixie Chicks music. This may not sound like a very ground-breaking thing, but rest easy, Congress thought it important enough to have a Congressional hearing in regards to the legality of the all-out bans or blacklists, if you will (oddly enough, in a moment of clarity, Sen. McCain (Ari-R) did not agree with the mega-corps banning the music).
Throughout the documentary, clips of countrified assholes and political pundits were played. In one clip, a redneck woman was trying to get her very young (2 years oldish) daughter to say “screw you” to the Dixie Chicks. In countless others, politicos were saying how they hope the “Dixie Twits” get everything that’s coming to them, negatively. First of all, it strikes me as funny how one comment by an entertainer can get our whole country’s panties all up in a bunch. Secondly, did free speech not exist on March 10, 2003? Thirdly, if any of these dirty bastards would have ever listened to the statement made by Emily Robison (the banjo chick) immediately following Maines’s statement they would have heard her say the band supports the American troops 100%. And finally, get a fucking grip people!
This might seem a bit contrite, but I want to make sure you understand the magnitude of this situation. After “the comment”, the American Red Cross refused a $1,000,000 (that’s one million) donation from the Dixie Chicks (it would be within one year of the refusal that hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the US). And if the trashcans mentioned above weren’t enough and you had a few extra Dixie Chicks cd’s laying around, there were demonstrations where you could throw your discs into a giant pile to be crushed by a bulldozer (now that’s more like the book burnin’ we know and love!). The funny thing is, Madonna had a video that was due to come out not too long after the “comment” where she threw a grenade at an actor that was dressed to look like President Bush, guess whether or not that video was released on-time…
Another thing that strikes me as funny, is that despite Maines’s apology about being disrespectful to the president, this country still hated her. In a world where as long as you say sorry after you fuck up, it’s all good (see the steroids issue in baseball, Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake and the Super Bowl shenanigans, Bill Clinton and the blowjob, etc.) Yet, this country just couldn’t seem to forgive her/them. I wonder if it’s the fact this band personified “all-american” (blonde, usually, girls from Texas that play country music? can’t get more american than that, right?) that made us jealous or if we were just practicing for the forthcoming Britney Spears meltdown or if it was just a ridiculously slow news day that got legs and ran… I can’t figure it out for the life of me.
Then, if that wasn’t enough, along comes Toby “the Toolbag” Keith with his more-fuel-to-the-fire propaganda. I should say that I’ve thought Toby Keith to be a complete and utter dickshit for quite some time. Granted, he’s written a couple of catchy songs, but I can’t believe people do not see right through this guy. First of all, he can thank Bush’s war for most of the nice chunk of money he now has. He writes these pro-war, we’re gonna kick your country’s ass, songs that get these wacked out hoosiers and military freaks all worked up. He’s sucking every last dime he can out of this war. He’s preying on the weak-minded country conservatives and they love him for it. It’s almost like a modern day Robin Hood, only instead of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, he takes from the poor and gives it to his own bank account. Then he has the audacity to show a photoshopped picture of Saddam Hussein with Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks at his concerts during one of his pro-war songs while singing “We’ll stick our boots up your ass, it’s the American way.” Toby Keith is no different than those foreign countries who make those little american flag, ribbon shaped magnets that people keep putting on their cars (I don’t think people realize yet that those magnets are not made in this country, nor are they made by American companies) in order to make an extra dime off the war, again preying on American feeble-mindedness.
It just still bothers me that there was such a negative reaction. And I guess the thing that tears me up is that so many of these people that were pissed at what the Dixie Chicks had said are the same ones that use that retarded, overused cliche, “I may not like what you have to say, but I’ll defend your right to say it.” What the hell happened to that bullshit? I think it would be safe to say that if these people were so up Bush’s ass they probably didn’t like Bill Clinton all that much, but I’d be willing to bet nobody sent them a death threat for making a negative comment about Clinton, fucking hypocrites. This country all too often seems to be all caught up in having our freedoms (most of which couldn’t tell you what piece of paper/parchment gives us the freedom of speech) as long as they don’t infringe on what we believe in, at the present moment. The last four words are very important! What would the reaction be if the Dixie Chicks were to make that very same statement today instead of back in 2003? Interesting what five years can do to change perceptions, don’t you think? Turns out, these girls were a bit ahead of their time, guess they were smarter than those assholes after all.
The greatest slap in the face however came in 2006 and 2007. The Dixie Chicks released a new record that sold tons with very little radio play, which is nearly unheard of. To follow that up, they were nominated for 5 Grammy awards, including Record, Song, and Album of the Year. Well, guess what. Our heroines won all 5 awards they were nominated for. So I’ve been at this off and on for the last 3 or so hours and I think I’m going to quit now. More political ramblings later…
ps…yes, Bill Clinton and the Blowjobs is a wonderful band name, but you can’t have it, I made it up!