Left to right: Martie, Natalie, and Emily.
Long-lasting Country Music
group known for its neotraditionalist country and bluegrass influences.
The Dixie Chicks founded in 1989 when sisters Martie and Emily Irwin (now known as Martie Maguire and Emily Robison) joined with bassist Laura Lynch and guitarist/vocalist Robin Lynn Macy. The band recorded several bluegrass-influenced albums on indie labels under the production of Lloyd Maines. Macy left in 1992 and Lynch took over lead vocals for the band's last independent album. After signing to Monument Records in the mid-1990s, Lynch left as well because she was dissatisfied with the Irwin's push for a more youthful sound. Taking over as lead vocalist was Natalie Maines, Lloyd's daughter.
With a new sound led by Natalie's vocals, the band finally broke through in the latter half of the 1990s with its first Monument album, Wide Open Spaces.
The album and its follow-up, Fly
, both produced several big hits (including the controversial "Goodbye Earl") as well as Grammy and CMA awards.
Following the dissolution of the Monument Nashville branch (which had produced no other successful artists during its timespan), the Chicks moved to Columbia Records
for the bluegrass-influenced Home
. This album looked like it might bring the Chicks' career to new heights, with back-to-back crossover smashes in "Landslide" and "Long Time Gone," as well as "Traveling Soldier," which resonated well in the wake of post-9/11 patriotism. However, during a tour, Maines remarked that she was ashamed to be from the same state as then-president George W. Bush
. This remark led to a huge backlash from the country music community, including a sharp decline in radio airplay ("Travelin' Soldier" fell from #1 to #3 to #43
in two weeks) and a longtime departure before Taking the Long Way
came out in 2006. This album was a lot more vitriolic in nature, and although lead-off single "Not Ready to Make Nice" fared poorly at country radio, it was a massive pop hit and won three Grammy Awards.
Robison and Maguire wanted to record a new Dixie Chicks album in 2009, but after Maines said that she was not ready to do one, the sisters recorded one album under the name Court Yard Hounds. They had also planned to start touring as such, until Maines decided to join the other two and tour alongside Keith Urban
and the Eagles
in 2010. In 2013, Court Yard Hounds released their second album Amelita
, while Natalie Maines released a solo album called Mother
, trading in her old country sound for pop/rock, with cover songs from sources as diverse as Ben Harper, Eddie Vedder
, and Pink Floyd
- Thank Heavens for Dale Evans (1990)
- Little Ol' Cowgirl (1992)
- Shouldn't a Told You That (1995)
- Wide Open Spaces (1997)
- Fly (1999)
- Home (2002)
- Top of the World Tour: Live (2003)
- Taking the Long Way (2006)
- Author Tract: Large tracts of Taking the Long Way were dedicated to those who lashed out against Natalie's comment, saying she's still "mad as hell" at them, but also questioning why the haters would go so far as to send her death threats (which actually happened).
- Album Title Drop: From "The Long Way Around": "Taking the long way, taking the long way around..."
- "Let Him Fly" is this for Fly.
- "A Home" could be considered this for Home, though other songs mention home as well.
- The Band Minus the Face: Subverted with the albums that Martie and Emily cut, if only because they credited them to the Court Yard Hounds.
- The Cameo: John Mayer on "I Hope", Chris Thile of Nickel Creek on "White Trash Wedding" and "Lil' Jack Slade", among others.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing, Asshole Victim, Domestic Abuse, Death by Woman Scorned, Hollywood Restraining Order, Murder Ballad: All apply to "Goodbye Earl."
- Early-Bird Cameo: Before she joined the Chicks, Natalie sang backing vocals on a Pat Green album.
- Empathic Environment: Brutally inverted in "Cold Day in July", which describes a painful breakup taking place on a beautiful sunny day.
- Hide Your Pregnancy: Emily averted/defied this in the video for "Landslide" (screenshot here◊).
- I Have No Son: Portrayed mercilessly in Court Yard Hounds' "Ain't No Son", which is sung mostly from the perspective of a mother whose son comes out of the closet.
- Long Runner Lineup: The Maines/Maguire/Robison lineup (1997 onward, more or less).
- Loophole Abuse: The entire point of "Sin Wagon" can be summed up as "Raise as much hell as possible, then ask God for forgiveness at the last possible moment". Could be a case of Artistic License – Religion, or Comically Missing the Point, or an unfortunate Truth in Television, depending on the listener.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Goodbye Earl" is awfully upbeat for a song about two women who kill an abusive husband and then dispose of the body.
- Ms. Fanservice: All three Chicks are fairly easy on the eyes, as evidenced by the photo up top.
- New Sound Album: Wide Open Spaces succeeded in part because it blended the band's existing bluegrass sound with mainstream country and pop influences. Oh yeah, and the fact that it was the first album with Natalie Maines on lead vocals.
- Home could be considered an Old Sound Album, in that it reverts to a completely acoustic, bluegrass-influenced sound, with drums only appearing on one one track ("Travelin' Solider", which has an in-story reason for them to be there).
- And then Taking the Long Way goes right back to country-pop after it.
- Persona Non Grata: They became this to country radio after Maines anti-Bush comments.
- Police Are Useless: In "Goodbye Earl", the cops are in no way able to protect Wanda from Earl's abuse.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis: The Dixie Chicks have become more famous worldwide in the early 2000s for opposing George W. Bush, the war in Iraq and the enormous backlash they received than for their music.
- Rule of Three: The band is a trio.
- Shotgun Wedding: Played for Laughs in "White Trash Wedding".
- Take That: Many of the songs on Taking the Long Way address the reaction to Maines head-on.
- During their feud with Toby Keith over the song "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue," Maines wore a shirt with the acronyms "FUTK," claiming that the initials stood for "Friends United in Truth and Kindness."
- "Lubbock or Leave It" is one to the city of Lubbock, Texas, where it's implied that, like Buddy Holly before her, Natalie won't be appreciated there until she's dead and gone.
- Taking You with Me: Subverted in "If I Fall You're Going Down with Me", since the falling refers to love and not death.
- They Don't Make Them Like They Used To: "Long Time Gone" compares the current sound of country radio to a few country music legends, which is a bit of a Take That to the former and a Shout-Out to the latter:
They sound tired, but they don't sound Haggard They've got money, but they don't have Cash
- Titled After the Song: The band named itself after the Little Feat song "Dixie Chicken."