It's been three years since Dixie Chicks' lead singer Natalie Maines made the statement to a London audience that she was ashamed President Bush is from her home state of Texas. Many Country stations in the U.S. banned the Dixie Chicks' music. Some of their peers in the Country industry took verbal shots at the trio. They even received death threats. The Dixie Chicks are back in the limelight with a new album. But has the Country community forgiven them?
"I'm Not Ready To Make Nice" was the lead single from the Dixie Chicks new album Taking the Long Way. The song addresses the much-publicized incident in 2003, when lead singer Natalie Maines criticized President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq. Natalie says she firmly supports the troops and, if asked, would go to Iraq to perform for them. But, she's unrepentant when explaining her comment aimed at the President.
"I don't regret anything, and I'm so glad it happened because it reminded me of who I am. When people tell you you can't do something that you know you can do - it's not an opinion - I have a right to say what I want, it makes you stronger and, I guess, a little defiant. But, defiant in just a strong way," she says.
The Dixie Chicks co-wrote each of the 14 tracks on Taking the Long Way. Collaborators include Sheryl Crow, Keb' Mo' and Mike Campbell, a member of Tom Petty's band, The Heartbreakers. Natalie, Martie and Emily describe the songs on their latest album as "more mature" than those on their previous three collections. They worked in the studio with rock producer Rick Rubin, who says,
"I felt like, because of the controversy that they had dealt with, people were taking what they had to say seriously - probably for the first time in their career, so they were in a powerful position to talk about serious things," he said.
The serious subjects include Alzheimer's disease, infertility and motherhood.
The Dixie Chicks' three members have seven children between them, all under the age of 5. But, Martie Maguire and her sister Emily both struggled with infertility. They included a song on the new album about the issue, called "So Hard."
"Emily and I have dealt with the same issue - infertility and miscarriage and the whole gamut. One of the hardest things in a relationship is you picture where the relationship is headed next after you've gotten married, and you've been together a couple years. And you grow up as a woman, I think, thinking you're just going to have a child and that it's kind of just your God-given right, and it's the next step. And then, when it doesn't happen you're shocked and sad," she says.
The Dixie Chicks will take all seven of their children along on their North American "Accidents and Accusations" tour. The 43-city outing begins July 21, and is scheduled to run through mid-November.
They admit they've lost their socially conservative Country following, but the Dixie Chicks hope to gain a broader audience of pop and rock fans. Although the first two singles from Taking the Long Way earned minimal airplay, the album sold close to 526,000 copies its first week of release. The album debuted at Number One on both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums charts, making the Dixie Chicks the first female group in chart history to have three Number One entries.