Make us your home page
Instagram

Column: On deeply loving the Dixie Chicks for almost 20 years

The shortness was the thing.

Natalie Maines' shortness, to be specific. As a short, blond teenager who was annoyed with everyone, I was intrigued by the short, blond woman who looked annoyed with everyone.

She was the lead singer of a new country band called the Dixie Chicks. On the album cover, she walked with her tall, lithe bandmates, wearing all black, a devilish smirk on her face.

There was the video (remember those?) for There's Your Trouble, with a kaleidoscope lens, peacock feathers, paper lanterns, crunchy hair spray, heavy makeup and sweet three part harmony.

I was a casual consumer of country music at best, but I fell deeply in love with the Dixie Chicks. They had a freshened-up Dolly Parton aesthetic, and their songwriting and instrumentation was expert. They fantasized about murdering abusive husbands, winked at debauchery, sang rawly about crumbling relationships and struggles of faith. They covered artists like Patty Griffin and Fleetwood Mac.

And then there was that Maines voice. It sat in a perfectly singable pocket, an uncompromising chest wail that went to the rafters. It wasn't exactly pretty. It was strong, and it was angry, and it was interesting.

I had their poster in my bedroom when Maines made her infamous remarks about the president. See pop music/culture critic Jay Cridlin's story for an examination of their career, notoriety, fallout and influence since.

CHICKS HATCHING: With new tour, the Dixie Chicks reopen doors of country inspiration

In the Washington Post in 2003, Anne Hull wrote: "To be a Dixie Chicks fan now requires more than mere affection. It means having your patriotism challenged. It means getting cussed when you call the country radio station to complain about the boycott on Chicks songs. It means dinner table squabbles with your soldier cousin who just returned from Iraq, with the whole family wondering why can't you just like Kenny Chesney."

People around the country were steamrolling their CDs in the streets when they played the then St. Pete Times Forum. I had tickets to their show during the height of an outrage that seems almost quaint by today's vicious 140-character standards.

On stage in Tampa, Maines said, "I get nervous when I talk now, because talking got me in trouble." She sang, "You don't like the sound of the truth coming from my mouth." I remember a little girl holding up a freedom of speech sign, and Maines nodding at her.

I felt exhilarated, but mostly sad, because I knew in my bones they would not be back for a very long time. It felt like having a beloved boyfriend ripped away, for reasons you didn't fully understand.

More than a decade later, when news came that they were touring again and stopping at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, I didn't care if I went alone. Natalie would be there, and together we would smirk and be annoyed.

It turns out I don't have to go alone. For Christmas, there were two tickets from my boyfriend nestled in the tree. They weren't front row, but the front of a row. Specifically chosen so I could be short, be proud, and see the Chicks, clear and uncompromising.

The Dixie Chicks

Vintage Trouble and Smooth Hound Smith open at 7 p.m. Friday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $35 and up. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.

Column: On deeply loving the Dixie Chicks for almost 20 years 08/16/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2016 12:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. There's a bar in Tampa where you can roller skate and eat sushi

    Food & Dining

    Roller skating, it's not just for kids birthday parties and the 1970s anymore.

    The exterior of Pattinis features this mural by Art Aliens! [Pattinis South Tampa via Facebook]
  2. At 'American Idol' auditions in Orlando, there are life lessons in line

    Music & Concerts

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — From her spot across the lawn, Sasha Orihuela studies her son.

    Jeremy Joshua Dorsey reacts after past American Idol contestants walk by ahead of his audition at the Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017. 

Hundreds of people showed up for the first auditions for ABC's reboot of 'American Idol'. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  3. Carnival announces five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Carnival Cruise Line is adding five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba in 2018, Port Tampa Bay announced Thursday.

      Carnival Cruise Line announced additional cruises to  Cuba. Pictured is its Paradise cruise ship departing on its inaugural voyage to Cuba from Tampa. | [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  4. Beach Drive mural is a first for St. Pete's swanky waterfront street

    Blogs

    Mural mania in St. Petersburg is spreading east.

    This mural in progress is on the side of the Smith & Associates building on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg.
  5. Is that it? Hardly. Katrina of the Waves still walking on sunshine

    Blogs

    Appearing on both Retro Futura and The '80s Cruise is Katrina Leskanich, who we know better as Katrina of Katrina & the Waves. When thinking about Katrina & the Waves hopefully …