News Column

Dixie Chicks Are Plenty Country

May 16, 2013

Sherry Rieder

If you scan our CD collection, you won't find much country music.

But we have five albums by the Dixie Chicks.

I was a fan after hearing "Goodbye Earl" and "Cowboy Take Me Away" on the Chicks' second studio album, "Fly." The trio's seamless harmonies and clever lyrics quickly got me hooked.

I became an even bigger fan after seeing them perform live.

Their music isn't all smoke and mirrors and high-tech trickery. Lead singer Natalie Maines and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison have skills, plain and simple. They sound as tight and talented live as they do on CDs.

During a recent trip to Nashville, we visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. We saw tricked-out cars with pistol-shaped door handles and ice makers, gold albums galore and tons of custom-made guitars.

One of the last exhibits on the museum tour showcased country music's brightest stars of this century. Taylor Swift was represented, as were Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

But no Dixie Chicks.

It then occurred to us that we hadn't seen one Chicks photograph or piece of memorabilia during the two-plus hours we'd spent in the hall.

The Chicks got themselves in some hot water in 2003. Ten days before the March invasion of Iraq, Maines told the crowd at a London show that the Chicks were "ashamed" that President George W. Bush was from Texas.

The group was boycotted in the U.S., and fans were encouraged to bring their Chicks CDs to protests -- one included a bulldozer to crush them. Metal detectors were added at concert venues after the group received death threats. But the "Top of the World" tour went on.

We saw the trio perform in Pittsburgh on June 14, 2003. It was one of the best live shows I've ever seen.

The Dixie Chicks belong in the Country Music Hall of Fame. To ignore their impact on country music -- and music in general -- seems ridiculous to me. They're the first female band in music-chart history to have three albums debut at No. 1.

Maines spent the past several years focused on being a mom, with music taking a back seat.

Last week, she released -- appropriately enough -- "Mother," a solo album.

It's so good to hear her amazing voice again -- with or without the sanction of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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(c)2013 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.)

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