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Dixie Chicks
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"It's easier to write songs that are about other people," says Natalie Maines. "It's much harder to put yourself out there, but the songs are so much better and mean so much more when you can let yourself be vulnerable, and be honest with your emotions and your beliefs." With TAKING THE LONG WAY, one of the most anticipated albums in recent years, the Dixie Chicks are putting themselves out there like never before. For the first time, every one of the disc's fourteen songs are co-written by the Chicks themselves, exploring themes both deeply private and resoundingly political. Collaborating with legendary producer Rick Rubin (who has worked with everyone from Johnny Cash to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, from Run DMC to Neil Diamond), the biggest-selling female band in history has truly pushed themselves to new heights both as writers and as performers. "Everything felt more personal this time," says Maines. "I go back to songs we've done in the past and there's just more maturity, depth, intelligence on these. They just feel more grown-up." Inspired by such classic rock artists as the Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the Mamas and the Papas, TAKING THE LONG WAY adds a sweeping, Southern California vibe to the Chicks' down-home intimacy. That ambition is matched with lyrics addressing everything from small-town narrow-mindedness ("Lubbock or Leave It") to the psychology of celebrity ("Everybody Knows"). "This album was about finding a balance in the different aspects of our lives," says Emily Robison, "but there's something thematic there, too - it's really about being bold." Of course, that's a subject that the Dixie Chicks know a few things about. Not just "big for a country band" or "big for a big female band," the Dixie Chicks are a multi-platinum selling act in North America, Europe and Australia. They are one of a mere handful of acts with multiple albums achieving "diamond" status (meaning sales over 10 million copies) - both WIDE OPEN SPACES (1998) and FLY (1999) hit that stratospheric landmark - and have won seven Grammy awards. Their on-stage reputation has helped them sell over $100 million worth of concert tickets, and outspoken songs like "Goodbye, Earl" made it clear that this power trio played by nobody's rules. And that was all before Natalie Maines's comments about a fellow Texan, President George W. Bush, during a London appearance in March, 2003 really put the Dixie Chicks in the headlines. The resultant uproar - complete with boycotts and death threats - is the focus of TAKING THE LONG WAY's defiant first single, "Not Ready to Make Nice." "The stakes were definitely higher on that song," says Robison. "We knew it was special because it was so autobiographical, and we had to get it right. And once we had that song done, it freed us up to do the rest of the album without that burden." Martie Maguire says that all three Chicks believe they've grown as a result of the incident. "I learned I was ready to put my career on the line for something I believed in," she says. "Emily and I could have pressured Natalie to apologize, and I was so proud that I had that inner strength - that nothing is as important as standing up for what you believe in." Following the controversy, the group spent the rest of 2003 on their "Top of the World" tour (documented on a double-CD and a DVD of the same name), and amassed the biggest one-year gross for a country music act in history - a whopping $62 million. The following year, they joined the historic "Vote for Change" tour in anticipation of the 2004 Presidential election. When it came time to return to the recording studio, the Chicks knew that they wanted a new direction. Their last studio album, 2002's HOME, was itself a departure - a glorious celebration of their acoustic roots - so there was no obvious next move. They discovered that they shared a fondness for Rick Rubin's work, only to find out that he was a Dixie Chicks fan ever since seeing the trio "completely blow everyone off the stage" at a Sony Music function early in their career. When sessions began in Los Angeles in May, 2005, Maguire remembers Rubin saying, "I think this should sound like a great rock act making a country album, not a country act making a rock album." Beyond that, things were left open to see where the creative process would lead. "It was a very different style of working," says Maines. "You have to learn to relax and be OK with experimenting. We just knew we wanted to do something different, and that's scary." "The journey is to see where the songs take us," says Rubin. "I felt like they had a lot to talk about, and it would be a good time for them to talk. It was really like the start of their career. Up until now, people loved them in a very surface way. This was the first time that people took them seriously - and in one stroke they went from loved artists to serious artists." Rubin assembled a band including Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, session hero Larry Knechtel, and Heartbreakers Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell, and matched the Chicks with co-writers including Dan Wilson (who wound up collaborating on six of TAKING THE LONG WAY's songs), Pete Yorn, and Gary Louris of the Jayhawks. Rubin says that he watched the band's songwriting skills skyrocket in front of his eyes. "Over a period of time, by honing their craft and working with good mentors, they got to be really, really good songwriters," he says. The results cover an impressive range of territory. "Silent House" examines the emotions that come from watching an older relative struggle with Alzheimer's. "It's So Hard When It Doesn't Come Easy" addresses infertility, an issue that both Robison and Maguire have faced. ("I think we feel a responsibility to break down some barriers," says Maguire. "It's much more of a common problem than people realize.") The Chicks debuted the gospel-inflected "I Hope," co-written with Keb Mo, during last year's telethon benefiting the victims of Hurricane Katrina; the album version features a blistering guitar solo by John Mayer. Of course, political brouhahas weren't the only things happening in the Dixie Chicks world during the last few years. The number of children in their posse has grown from two to seven since the release of HOME, and their domestic life informs such songs as "Baby Hold On" and the delicate "Lullaby," which they call "a gift to our kids." Robison laughs that "our entourage just consists of nannies," while noting that their tour plans this time will be "stretched out more - we'll tour longer, with more time off." As for the tour - set to kick off in the summer and run for more than a year - Maines says that it will be "more of an old-style rock show, not so much about theatrics and props but just about the music." She also notes that "to rock out, we used to have to pull out a cover tune, so it's nice to have your own songs to fill that part of the set." Superstars, renegades, innovators, heroes, villains, and moms - over almost a decade, the Dixie Chicks have grown from a band into a phenomenon. Now more than ever, the eyes of the world are on them, and with TAKING THE LONG WAY, they come out swinging, surpassing the pressures and expectations history has placed upon them. "This album was total therapy," says Natalie Maines. "I'm way more at peace now. Writing these songs and saying everything we had to say makes it possible to move on."
Date Venue City State Note
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09/22/2010 - THE ESSENTIAL DIXIE CHICKS Rounds Up Country Chart Hits and Favorites - Read More
03/19/2010 - Dixie Chicks sisters debut side project at South by Southwest - Read More
02/21/2007 - Shut up and Sing  - Read More
02/12/2007 - Dixie Chicks Claim Five Grammys - Read More
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Average Rating : 0              Total Reviews: 146


Dixie Chicks  06/20/2006            
Nashville Sux
~Trash!~
Dixie Chicks  06/19/2006            
Republican Brandon
Case in point Vinny...Tell us what's really bothering you. You've got way too much time. Saw the new video. Rad.
Dixie Chicks  06/18/2006            
Sarah the DJ about Vinny
Came on to read these reviews and decided to leave one partially about this Vinny guy: Son, you've got way too much time on your hands. There's a fine line between observing a lousy band and wanting a band to be lousy. You've crossed it. As a DJ who has worked for the Wolf in Dallas and other stations for years, I can honestly say that these girls will live on as legends. Why? Because they're talented, they're unique, and they challenge us whether we agree with them or not. Many artists have been banned from radio for a time before they're finally appreciated. So Vinny, stop leaving so many posts; you've said your two cents -why express the same opinion more than once? We heard you. Get off the computer and go meet some girls.
Dixie Chicks  06/12/2006            
racefan243
What a joke !!!
Dixie Chicks  06/09/2006            
Cindy in Texas
Rock on Dixie Chicks and do what you are doing. Don't back down, not for anyone! Your music kicks ass and soon you won't be in the country world only! Freedom of speeck is still a liberty in America.... or is it? Don't turn your back on your ideas..being outspoken is a civl right! You all have the support of the the non-nashville friends!
Dixie Chicks  06/09/2006            
PF
Why don't they just hang it up. The only people who'll like this crud are costal liberals, who don't even like tex/country music anyway. I'm really bored with them pissing in the drinking fountain and complaining the water tastes bad.
Dixie Chicks  05/31/2006            
Republican Brandon
Hey there Vinnie. Be honest with yourself. I'm a very conservative person; I believe in free speech and a market place of ideas. Don't you? Reba can say what she will. Also, the dixie chicks claim a right to say what they have said: especially from the artistic platform of a stage. You're right Willis, even as a conservative, I feel there is a double standard here. Even as a conservative, I cannot help but feel the chicks were right to an extent. The new album is great, and I encourage country artists to sing about more than just drinking, heartache, and flag waving. Country folks have more to their lives than those things anyway.
Dixie Chicks  05/30/2006            
Willis
Obviously Mark L, by the nature of your statement, you clearly do care what they say. Otherwise, you wouldnt post anything about their political "demonstration." Why would you stifle their ability to say such? How many artist would not exist today whom we cherish if everyone abided by your uninspiring position? Bob Dylan, Springsteen, The Beatles, U2, Hendrix, Joplin, and, of course, let us not forget Willie Nelson. Why aren't you complaining about these artists who share similar opinions and demonstrate them in much more superfluous manners? Probably because you hold a double standard of sorts. Women who behave themselves rarely make history. And yes, it is true; had they made their statement about our wonderful president today as opposed to then, 70% of the country would agree with them, as people came to agree with the Beatles and the like... Good Artists see retrospect coming a mile away.
Dixie Chicks  05/24/2006            
Benny the Squid
Beautiful. Vinny and Reba - two peas in an Okie pod. I've seen that Reba gal on the WB - didn't she used to be a country singer?
Dixie Chicks  05/23/2006            
L.A.
Saying Natalie sucks is one thing. She's opinionated and that tends to create people being opinionated about her. No big deal. But to say that they all suck as people is ridiculous. Do you know even one of them as a person? What makes Emily & Martie suck? Standing by their friend?
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