Dixie Traitors or Dixie Outlaws?

Almost everyone in America during the year of 2003 knew about the dramatic public announcement made by the Dixie Chicks during a concert in London. This caused a massive stir when the group announced that they were “ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas,” and that they were not in support of the war and violence that was occurring. Many people saw this as complete and utter disrespect for America, the government, and most importantly the U.S. troops who were sacrificing their lives on behalf of the country. The group even saw a major decline in record sales and popularity.

the-dixie-chicks-protestGrowing up, the Dixie Chicks were my all- time favorite singers. I spent hours listening to their CD’s on my boombox, making up dances to their songs with my friends, and memorizing the lyrics that glorified girl power and being a southern girl. When the London concert incident happened, I could not have been more upset. I had so much respect for those women, and looked up to them very much, so when my parents told me I was no longer allowed to listen to them I was simply heartbroken as a little girl. I come from a conservative, Republican family, and I know I was just one of hundreds that banned the Dixie Chicks’ music from their household.

I can see exactly why what the Dixie Chicks did was disrespectful and dishonorable, but looking back on historical artists of country music many of them were so widely known or popular because of their “outlaw” status. After reading and learning about Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard to name a few, I realized that the Dixie Chicks could easily be considered outlaws. They didn’t go to jail or shoot anyone, but they stood up for what they believed in while bashing very important figures, and did so in a highly public manner. Clearly their rebelliousness didn’t produce a positive result or increase their popularity as some outlaws experienced, but they were acting out in classic outlaw behavior that was very prevalent in country music throughout history. They didn’t care what their label or fans would think, but wanted to say what they were feeling, even if it was disrespectful and would cause a major backlash. Very similar situations and decisions are what gave some artists in history that very reputation of being an outlaw. However, because the Dixie Chicks were displaying the opposite of patriotism, which is such a huge part of country music, there is no way that they could receive any type of positive feedback from it. There’s no turning back once you do something like that. But is rebelling this drastically not outlaw status even more?


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9 Responses to Dixie Traitors or Dixie Outlaws?

  1. Annie G

    I remember loving the Dixie Chicks when they were at their peak, however I was completely oblivious as to why they seemed to drop off the face off the planet until a several years ago. My parents didn’t necessarily hide it from me, I just wasn’t aware and probably didn’t care enough to worry about- I was most likely on the Britney Spears train by then. You made a really good point about them being outlaws but having this status backfire on them, when for other performers like willie nelson, it boosted their career. It really goes to show how important patriotism is for country music listeners. You can smoke weed and break laws, but hate on our government and our country and your career is over.

  2. Abby Bourland

    If we’re being completely honest, I still don’t know exactly what the Dixie Chicks said in London. All I can remember was my dad saying how much he hated them. I used to listen to the Dixie Chicks all the time. Traveling Soldier, Wide Open Spaces, and Cowboy Take Me Away were just some of my favorites. After their public announcement, I didn’t hear those songs until I was in high school and remembered their existence. In my opinion, I would consider the Dixie Chicks as outlaws. They went against what the public would think and did exactly what they wanted to. Although their public debacle lowered their popularity at the time, people still love their music today. Just like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard.

  3. Kayla Miracle

    I so, so, so loved reading this post. When I was in elementary school I had their album “Home” and would listen to “Travelin’ Soldier” and their version of “Landslide” on continuous repeat. I knew that something happened, because they never put anything new out, but I didn’t know why. Years later when they released the song “Not Ready to Make Nice” in response to the whole situation, is when I found out what happened. I agree with Annie’s comment above with it being honestly ridiculous how their freedom of speech is what ruined their whole career. I’m not entirely sure that a country girl group would still be relevant enough today to be super successful, but years ago they were and essentially got the rug pulled out from under their feet. I think it’s crazy that people do illegal things on stage during their shows and they are praised but someone took advantage of their rights as an American citizen (although not on American soil) and got insanely criticized. Honestly I miss the Dixie Chicks and wouldn’t mind another album or reunion tour. Here’s hoping.

  4. Kaki Miller

    I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really know who the Dixie Chicks were until my freshman year of high school, which is a bit absurd considering I am from Texas and I have been listening to country music my whole life. I blame it on growing up with an extremely conservative home-life where I was shielded from almost all things pop culture–especially controversial events. But once they did finally hit my radar, I of course wondered why they weren’t more prevalent in the country music scene, and thats when I heard their story… Honestly so tragic. Classic example of how one wrong move can destroy your entire career no matter how much your fans adore you.

  5. Kelby Floerke

    I am glad someone wrote about the Dixie Chicks, I definitely agree that they are such huge role models to so many young girls, or at least they were. I consider them outlaws by all means. I think their music rocked and I still listen to them every now and then on long car rides. It really is terrible of the incident that happened, but I guess that’s what happens when you say something so far out there. I honestly hope that they tour here in the US, I always see posts on their Facebook saying that they are touring in Europe, but they need to come to US!!

  6. Alyssa Buchanan

    You pose such a great question, and honestly I don’t believe the Dixie Chicks were outlaws. They had this one scandal (that they executed while NOT in America…) and that was that, record sales plummeted, and poof they were gone. After learning about all of these true outlaws in class like you named, who had their own lifestyle, the Dixie Chicks just seem like upset Americans who had the ability to voice their beliefs in a very public manner in hopes of rallying people together. Also, the Dixie Chicks kind of missed the outlaw era, and most of their songs were pretty wholesome. However, I would be curious to hear the other side, if maybe someone did believe the Dixie Chicks were outlaws.

  7. Stephanie Sebo

    I also grew up listening to the Dixie Chicks and loving them. I was still young when the incident happen, so I don’t think it completely wrapped around my brain until I took the time to research it. It’s hard knowing that such an influential group of women would say something that you don’t agree with. While I don’t agree with them, I cannot help but give them credit for sticking up for what they believe. They never took back what they said, and while it may not be on the favorable side of the opinion, they didn’t back down. I can’t help loving the song “I’m not ready to back down”, and I think they got their point across.

  8. Candace Edgley

    In middle school I made a music video with my best friend to Goodbye Earl, and it’s still one of my favorite Dixie Chicks songs. My mother definitely banned them once they started talking shit about the president as well, but that only made me love them more. I think I realized even then that my mother and I have verrrrry different political views. I stand by the Dixie Chicks always and even if I didn’t, their music is still great regardless of their personal opinions, so who cares?

  9. I agree with you all that the Dixie Chicks are not “outlaws” the way that Waylon, Willie, Tompall Glaser, and other people from the ’70s were. THAT SAID, they did take their record label to court early in the 2000s in order to get money they thought they deserved for royalties, and that made them some enemies in Nashville even before they said what they said about George W. Bush in London. The “outlaws” of the ’70s fought the Nashville labels tooth and nail, and in this respect I think the Chicks are at least outlaw-ish, independent of their later political comments.

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