Last week I saw the Dixie Chicks at Madison Square Garden. This was a concert I have been waiting to see for more than a decade!
The show was excellent and I was thrilled to hear and sing along to my favorite Dixie Chicks songs. I left the show humming “Cowboy Take Me Away”, and carrying a souvenir tote bag printed with a line from the song “Not Ready To Make Nice”.
I also left inspired to write about my favorite tracks from the Dixie Chicks’ catalog, as well as some other related music inspired by the concert.
How did a girl born and raised in Hudson County where “Wide Open Spaces” are a foreign concept come to love the Dixie Chicks? MTV, of course! The year was 1999 and I saw the music video for “Goodbye Earl” from the Chicks’ sophomore album Fly (available on CD and streaming in Freegal).
Mary Ann and Wanda getting the ultimate revenge on the Wanda’s abusive* ex-husband Earl appealed to me as a baby feminist.
Some other choice tracks from Fly:
- “Cowboy Take Me Away”
- “Cold Day In July”
- “Hole In My Head”
- “Sin Wagon”
- “If I Fall You’re Going Down With Me”–my very favorite. I had hoped to hear this at the concert, but sadly it wasn’t on the set list. 😦
Wide Open Spaces
The Dixie Chicks’ first album was Wide Open Spaces, released in 1998. (CD and Freegal) The title track of this record is now an anthem for women who want to spread their wings and leave home, but I am partial to “There’s Your Trouble”.
The album Home (CD and Freegal) came out in 2002, and includes a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”. There are some sadder, more introspective songs on this record, such as “Traveling Soldier” and “Top of the World”, but “White Trash Wedding” brings levity. I think that the brash “Truth No. 2” was a precursor to the music the Dixie Chicks would make on Taking the Long Way.
Shut Up & Sing
The Dixie Chicks found controversy in 2004 when lead singer Natalie Maines made a negative statement about then President George W. Bush, which brought intense criticism and backlash from the country music community. The documentary Shut Up & Sing covers this period of the Chicks’ history.
Taking the Long Way
From that turmoil came the Grammy-winning Taking the Long Way (CD and Freegal). This album was a game changer, and it is my favorite. This is a rare album I can listen to all the way through without skipping around.
- “Not Ready To Make Nice”
- “Taking the Long Way”
- “Easy Silence”
- “Baby Hold On”
- “Everybody Knows”
Sing “Lullaby” to your loved one, your baby, your teenager, your bae, your pet, or whomever you please.
Whenever anyone asks me, “Kerry, why haven’t you [insert milestone that others think I should have reached by now] yet?” I answer that I’m “Taking the Long Way”. Thank you, Dixie Chicks, for helping me answer that nosy but usually well meaning question!
Dixie Chicks Miscellany
If you want to dive deeper into the Dixie Chicks’ music, I recommend borrowing on DVD their VH1 Storytellers episode, where they tell the origin stories of some of their songs. I love to hear about artists’ inspirations for their work. Check out Top of the World Live (CD and Freegal) if you want to experience the Chicks in concert.
This New York Times piece about the Dixie Chicks and Kacey Musgraves as “Country Rebels” prompted me to borrow Kacey Musgraves’s recent release Pageant Material (CD and Hoopla) and savor the title track, “Late to the Party”, and “Biscuits”.
With the line “…mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy…”, “Biscuits” can serve as a good response to any nosy yet usually well meaning questions.
Are you going to any concerts this summer? Do you use song lyrics to respond to questions you’d rather not answer?
-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian
*Click here for resources on domestic violence.