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Country Fried Dixie Chicks
[March 14, 2003]

By Nicholas Provenzo

After the shock of 9/11, the only contemporary music I could listen to for the longest time was country—I just could not stomach pop or rock emotionally. Prior to the terrorist attacks, I had been at best indifferent, if not outright indignant toward country music. But after the attacks, there was something reassuring about the genre—something of an undercurrent that said that America was good and that our lives in it are good, which needed to be said after the nation endured so vicious an attack. The Dixie Chicks were one of the groups that I liked to listen to then, particularly their song “Wide Open Spaces.”

Now, after hearing about the comments of the Dixie Chicks' vocalist Natalie Maines in England, I feel nothing but contempt for her. According to press reports, Ms. Maines  told an English audience, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." Comments like that make me ashamed Ms. Maines is from America.

Yes, Ms. Maines has the right to speak her mind, but what she said was imbecilic. Since her commercial success is predicated in part on her band’s ability to capture the American sense of life musically, I can’t help but think her statements signed the death warrant of her public career. Too bad other celebrities haven't felt the same pinch as Ms. Maines has from their fans.

Perhaps the negative responce has something to do with the genre. It's no secret county music fans are seen as the quintessential Americans. Country music fans have no time for John Cage's 4:33, no time for Marilyn Manson's nihilism, and no time for Old Dirty Bastard's gangsta' ravings. Given the acidic response from Ms. Maines’ fans to her comments, country music fans also have no time for pot-shots against America.

Most country music fans want a free and proud America. That means an America willing to stand up to both a tin-pot dictator with some not so tin-pottish weapons, and the so-called allies who are willing to turn a blind eye to an obvious threat he represents to the world’s safety.

I pity Ms. Maines for not understanding explicitly what I thought she understood musically. If she fails to weather the storm of criticism surrounding her comments, perhaps fading into obscurity will giver her the time necessarily to contemplate the lesson.

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