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Hooray for the Dixie Chicks. Or as I affectionately call them, the Chixie Dicks. Five for five in this year’s Grammys, capping a mighty three-year comeback since being banished by country radio for The Comment. During a 2003 concert in London, singer Natalie Maines told the audience that the Chicks were “ashamed that the President (of the U.S.) is from Texas.” Confused Londoners, who had assumed that everyone from Texas was a dickweed, applauded. Here was a girl from the Lone Start state, who did not exhibit the blind loyalty expected by the arrogant knucklehead frat boy who was now the leader of the free world. [At the time, President Bush was ramping up his pet science project, the invasion of Iraq. Even then, millions of Americans were scratching their heads at this plan. Iraq? But, weren’t all the 9-11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia? The same Saudi Arabia to which we owe a big chunk of our national debt? The same Saudi Arabia which has purchased the fealty of the entire Bush family? Oh…]

Five Grammys for the Chicks. Suck On That, Toby Keith

Hooray for the Dixie Chicks. Or as I affectionately call them, the Chixie Dicks. Five for five in this year’s Grammys, capping a mighty three-year comeback since being banished by country radio for The Comment.

During a 2003 concert in London, singer Natalie Maines told the audience that the Chicks were “ashamed that the President (of the U.S.) is from Texas.” Confused Londoners, who had assumed that everyone from Texas was a dickweed, applauded. Here was a girl from the Lone Start state, who did not exhibit the blind loyalty expected by the arrogant knucklehead frat boy who was now the leader of the free world.

[At the time, President Bush was ramping up his pet science project, the invasion of Iraq. Even then, millions of Americans were scratching their heads at this plan. Iraq? But, weren’t all the 9-11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia? The same Saudi Arabia to which we owe a big chunk of our national debt? The same Saudi Arabia which has purchased the fealty of the entire Bush family? Oh…]

Upon returning to the U.S. to face a furor among mouth-breathing NASCAR addicts, Maines attempted to clarify her statement: “I feel the President is ignoring the opinions of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world.” Damn. If only she hadn’t used a five-syllable word.

Fans of “country” radio (not to be confused with country music fans) put down their pork rinds long enough to phone the radio stations to express their rage that anyone could disagree with Pre’d’nt Bush. Country radio responded by refusing to play any more Dixie Chicks music, which was a crushing blow to the girls’ financial status. Instead of becoming kajillionaires, they remained mere zillionaires.

Toby Keith, Ford truck shill and opportunistic writer of jingoistic fist-shaking anthems, booked himself on all the talk shows so he could spew his neocon vitriol, saying the Chicks should just “shut up and sing.” His own approach to world politics and diplomacy was to “stick a boot up their ass.” Rednecks and white trash trailerbillies rejoiced. A successor to Hank Jr. had been coronated.

So the Chicks said to Country radio, you can kiss our shapely zillionaire asses, y’all. Go enjoy your Cheez-Whiz casserole while NOT playing our smart, catchy, Grammy-winning music. We’ll just take a left turn here to Adult Contemporary Radio, where people can spell NPR without having to be spotted the NP.

Their first non-country album, “Taking the Long Way,” is an accomplished, confident work that the Chicks labored over for two years. It shows. Rick Rubin’s production allows the Chicks to bring their talent and attitude front and center, proving that the bloated ass of Nashvegas need not be kissed in order to put out a successful bunch of great, rootsy songs. And by god, they write most of their own stuff and they all play instruments.

The irony, to me, is that most people who listen to modern country radio don’t realize they’re hearing a bunch of recycled Firefall and Quarterflash soft rock crap from the late ‘70’s. Occasionally, while driving aimlessly around Missoula in my SUV, wondering how to solve the energy crisis, I dial in one of the two identical country stations to stay abreast of what’s coming out of Nashville (I think it was Daniel Simpson Day who said keep your friends close, and keep your enemies closer). Usually I can go nearly three or four songs before I slam my fist through the radio, and begin frantically searching for a pawn shop so I can buy a pistol and blow my brains out.

This is country music? Really. What country? The Republic of Treacle?

A couple of years ago I approached some yutz who was manning the controls at a remote broadcast for one of these stations. I asked him if he could play some Wayne Hancock.

“Who?” said the kid, pulling of his headphones.

Never heard of Wayne the Train. Okay, surely you have some Dale Watson in there. Truckers’ favorite.


No Dale Watson. How about BR549?

He brightened. “Oh, yeah, I’ve heard of those guys. They’re pretty good. Can’t play ‘em, though. Too country.”

Too country for country radio. I imagined calling up a jazz station in Chicago and requesting Miles Davis’ “Will O’ The Wisp” from “Sketches of Spain.”

“Mmm. Miles. Love to, cat, but it’s just too jazzy. Be cool.”

Anyone who knows my music knows I’m a fan of real country music. Buck. Merle. Patsy. Loretta. Hank Sr. Johnny. But how do you explain to someone the difference between true country music, and the cardboard crap being shoveled on the public at Wal-Marts from coast to coast?

One clue is timelessness. WD-40, the hottest alt-country band in Denver, is covering “White Lightning,” as are thousands of bands across the land, and crowds are loving it. The great George Jones song, almost 50 years old, is still hilarious, catchy, wild and fun.

Ten years from now, will anyone be covering “Ladies Love Country Boys” by Trace Adkins? Not bloody likely. It’s just the latest version of “I’m SO Country,” the generic theme song of self-regard recorded by every flash-in-the-pan that’s populated the Country Top 40 for the last 15 years.

No, for Real Country Music, you have to look at Yep Roc Records. Bloodshot Records. Mammoth. Sugar Hill. Watermelon. Rounder. E-Squared. Zoo-Praxis. East/West. Hightone. Lost Highway. And hundreds more independent labels.

“Real music is out there, and real people are playin’ it,” is one of my all-time favorite quotes from Webb Wilder. Webb’s music is a shotgun wedding between guitar-heavy rockabilly, surf music, and straight country-rock. Powerful stuff. Frequently hilarious.

One look at my CD collection is a testament to all the great music out there that you won’t hear on any modern country station. Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys, Wayne Hancock, Hadacol, the Domino Kings, High Noon, the Derailers and BR549 bring the traditional honky-tonk as if they’d all escaped from Bakersfield, circa 1966.

For those seeking more rock with their twang, there’s Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs, Chris Gaffney and the Cold Hard Facts, Mike Henderson and the Dead Reckenors (Rock and Roll Rule #4: you must have an awesome name for your backing band), Jason & the Scorchers (now defunct), the Bottle Rockets, the Backsliders, the Tail Gators, the Carpetbaggers, the Jayhawks, Son Volt, the Yayhoos and the Old 97’s, to name just a few bands.

The list of singer/songwriters operating outside the Bible Beltway is a long one, as it’s rare for one of these Revlon girls/underwear models populating the country charts to write any of their own material. Most don’t even play a goddamn instrument. Nothing against the singers, but when someone like Faith Hill receives all the accolades for warbling vanilla soft-rock valentines while Kelly Hogan and Neko Case struggle for recognition, I know that global warming has begun to affect more than the polar ice caps.

Alejandro Escovedo (who used to be in Rank & File, who basically invented cowpunk) is one of the most literate, satisfying songwriters working today, but you’ll never hear him on country radio, because sometimes he uses big words and sings about complex stuff. None of this “remember when we were kids / tell me about the good old days” bullshit. If there’s anything worse than nostalgia, it’s phony, calculated nostalgia.

Some other greats to listen to are Joe Ely, Billie Joe Shaver, Jack Ingram, Radney Foster, Robbie Fulks, Hank III, Todd Snider, Steve Earle, Dan Baird, Robert Earl Keen, Fred Eaglesmith, Bruce Robison, and his brother Charlie Robison. Bruce, a Texan, happens to be married to the greatest country singer of her generation, Kelly Willis.

And his brother Charlie? Why, he was in the audience at the Grammys, cheering on his wife Emily, banjo player and singer for the Dixie Chicks.

Love him or loath him, Bob Wire’s always got something on his mind. Check back at every day. Now git!

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  1. Hallelujah!! F’ing A is right!!! Somebody buy Bob a beer for this one. I would but the bars don’t let me inside anymore every since the trousersnake incident of 06′. By the way I saw Neko Case at last year’s SXSW and I think she is the hottest thing since sliced bread. Can I get a whoop whoop?

  2. I absolutely agree with everything Bob and Colin have said so far. In particular about Neko Case. I saw her and Jenny Lewis perform back-to-back once and it was almost too much to handle.

    I still always hold onto some daydream that Neko will drop in on a show in the Union sometime and ask to sit in with the band.

  3. Worst rigged Grammy’s ever… Proof that the liberals do not even know how to run an honest award show…

    Knarles Barkley deserved Single of the Year. I bought it, can’t stop listening to it and this bs of the Dixie Tricks getting all the awards is CRAZY!

    I will never watch the Grammy’s again. The Chicks are an embarassment to the award show.

    The mo fo’s running the Grammy’s may have thumbed their noses at the radio stations but Grammy’s do not sell music. Play time does and the radio stations sill wont play the chicks until they apoligized and admit they have no business mixing politics with music.

    We do not value them for their political opinions, intellect or savy in world affairs.

  4. So “Uncle Sam,” when did you become the arbiter of what artists may or may not do with their work? If anyone’s “thumbing their noses,” it’s the boycotting radio stations, whose childish actions defy American music buyers who have purchased over 2 million copies of “Taking The Long Way” in only 7 months. In fact, only 8 artists sold more of a single album this year. The Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has hundreds of voting members who are peers of the Dixie Chicks in the music industry, and they apparently value them for their opinions, intellect and savvy in world affairs — as do I.

    Oh, and you’re right that Gnarls Barkley put out a damn good album. I wish we could get Cee Lo and Danger Mouse to comment in this thread because I’m fairly confident they’d have some choice words for our Dear Leader as well.

  5. And just to rub it in, look which album is now #1 in country and #2 overall in sales on today. Those esteemed radio stations must think we’re all SUCH IDIOTS!

  6. Just so you know, I attended the Chicks’ concert in “Nashvegas”. I was all nervous for my girls, thinking they might be playing just for me. Just think that I, a Montana to Tennessee transplant would have them all to myself in that big ol’ Gaylord (ha!) Entertainment Center. Pickin and a grinnin’ to an audience of one (plus my boyfriend I dragged along). But nope! The Bible belt hath surprised me! They were freakin’ sold out!!! Yep! In Nashville for crying out loud!

  7. I never ceases to amaze me that I have never read one single review of the Dixie Chicks that wasn’t insulting Toby Keith, southerners, country music, or all three. Don’t they have any merit whatsoever on their own? Is there no talent to discuss? I used to like them and listen to them, but they said they didn’t want me to anymore. Quote: “We don’t want the kind of people who listen to Toby Keith or Reba McEntire listening to us anyway”. OK!! Suits me! But, I’m not going around on the web bashing them in order to lift Toby up!! OH!!!! That’s right!!!! I can talk about his talent WITHOUT mentioning the DC or their sheep!

  8. Lucinda Williams has a new record landing in stores tomorrow; Tuesday the 13th, I believe. And I also just got a message the other day that Fat Possum bought Townes Van Zandt’s entire recorded output and is going to start reissuing his records along with other stuff never released.

    Townes Van Zandt. Now there is a songwriter. The guy is a perfect example that music doesn’t have to be loud, down-tuned noise guitars to be HEAVY. The guy gets more doom out of acoustic+voice then few I’ve ever heard. If you’re a NetFlix geek and you haven’t seen it, add the bio “Be Here to Love Me” to your queue. Now.

    Great piece, Bob. Best one yet.

  9. Lynda, as I stated in the article, Toby Keith took it upon himself to be the spokesman for the DC backlash. In doing so, he established himself as their political polar opposite, forever entwined in the controversy surrounding The Comment.
    I just spoke with another songwriter who was incensed that “Jesus Take the Wheel” didn’t win Song of the Year, and dismissed the Chicks’ awards as “political.” I reminded her that, while that cloying American Idol piece of fluff may have sold more records, the Chicks wrote (or co-wrote) every song on their album, and played their instruments as well.
    As for my opinion of Mr. Keith and his music, I thought he was a poser and a hack long before he stuck his neck out with the DC issue. I mean, when our country invades another country, he comes out with an album entitled “Shock ‘n’ Y’all.” What a buffoon.

  10. Well, I was not surprised that the obviously opinionated gave the awards to the DCs. I wish I had saved it so I could paste it in here, but I read an article that was saying the Grammys were going to them because they wanted them to, not necessarily because they had earned them. Also, Toby refuses to comment and does not continue the fight they started so why does everyone else keep it up? Let it go already. We know who the bigger man in here – no pun intended. I am disgusted and nauseated that we have such idiots making it so obvious they can’t be honest and don’t mind rigging something to get what they want. I agree with “uncle Sam” – “Worst rigged Grammy’s ever… Proof that the liberals do not even know how to run an honest award show…”.

  11. “I am disgusted and nauseated that we have such idiots making it so obvious they can’t be honest and don’t mind rigging something to get what they want.”

    Yeah, damn those stinkin’ lib’ruls anyway! First the grammy’s, and next thing you know they’ll be riggin’ an election . . . or maybe even riggin’ “intelligence” so they can start a pet war!

  12. It amazes me how people can write articles without getting the facts. Don’t they pay editors to proof this bull@#$#? How can you print false, slanderous information about an individual? Isn’t that defamation of character?

    I am so sick of reading Toby Keith bashing, when what is printed is false.

  13. congrad dixie chicks! I am not a what you would call FAN of the DC,but i do respect them. The way they have been treated by President Bush lovers discusses me. Their music was werth winning those awards and is that much more rewarding to see stupid people get all mad and say “IM NEVER WATHING THE GRAMMYS AGAIN”…i find it again congrads dixie chicks and any one who doesnt like them because of there comments made in 2003 should go to hell.

  14. Ah, politics.
    You don’t like him because of his politics, and frankly, I’d rather judge acts by musicianship.
    Not that Toby Keith is great or anything, but your band, the Magnificent Bastards or whatever you’re pawning yourself off these days, sucks the hind tit out of a pregnant skunk. And that’s on a good night. Whatever, “Bob.” Good luck with the mediocrity.

  15. Poor Cal gets so angry seeing a few strong-willed women succeed that he has to resort to insults and crudity. Doesn’t frustrate you that this “line-toeing leftist” has facts to back up my claims? The best part of all is that Toby Keith is a self-proclaimed Democrat – so if anything – all I can complain about is his poor choices in picking fights and his lousy music. Not surprising, given that most of you on the right-half of the spectrum has been getting things aggrediously wrong for years now.

  16. Upon completion of reading this article, this chick ran into the bathroom and upchucked a big dixie. This ranting, raving, unbridled leftist rhetoric is insulting to true Americans and the loyal fans of Toby Keith. Yes, Toby is a registered Democrat. I’m a registered Republican. What we have in common is love of our Country and support of our troops……….it is the American way! Oh and by the way, Toby is NOT an opportunist…..simply a proud song-writing citizen who hails from THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD…..and isn’t afraid to say it!

  17. It seems from your mumbling that you even have a clue what Toby Keith is all about or who he really is. Why do you think the DC deserve your high praise for dribbling sh** out of there mouths? That big mouth lead singer of their’s has never had anything good spill over her lips. And to put them on a pedistal for being opinionated but stick THE GREAT Toby Keith in the dump for doing exactly the same thing, are you freakin’ retarted? So Dixie Chicks go back into the back hills down in dixie and shut your yaps. You need to have your American rights revoked. You do not embody the American Spirit. But we all know who the bigger MAN is for just saying, whatever and get over it.

    Proud to be a TK Warrior and American!!!

  18. Wow, this article generated some strong opinions! I’m one of the people the D.C. offended by saying they didn’t want me to listen to them (Toby Keith warrior). So I haven’t listened to their music, requested them on the radio, voted for them on GAC or CMT or gone to any of their concerts. I must be one of many because the D.C. had to reschedule or cancel shows during last year’s concert season. One final note, Toby Keith has posted sell out venues during his lastest concert tour!

  19. I agree with you about what is being played on country radio is not country. The Dixie Chicks are not country either. They are an attempt to fuse together rock and bluegrass and not totally successfully. The problem with the Chicks isn’t what they said, it was where they said it and the fact that they believe that their opinion is the only one that matters. They found it unbelievable that their old country fans were insulted and expressed their own opinions by not buying their records. The good news is that their new fans bought their records and will continue to do so until the 3 little girls shoot their mouths off again in a way that insults the new fans. Also they attacked Toby Keith first he only defended himself and then realized that their were more important things to do than respond to 3 whiny little girls.

  20. As for Jesse’s comment telling me to go to hell…

    I would but now I am too afraid Satan will be there with the Dixie Chicks locked and loaded…


  21. Dur me like duh Tobi Keith becauz he drive da big truk. Me not likey da girls becauz girls shuldn’t be able to drive or vote.

  22. News flash: unless you’re writing from Iraq or Afghanistan, you’re not a warrior.

  23. Right on, Bob. Great piece. Too many comments overlooked your review of true country music in lieu of some PR war between the Chicks and Keith. Keep playin that true country.

  24. Bob, great piece!

    The Dixie Chicks have done something there that I think all people should realize: they are advocating FREE SPEECH. Our First Amendment rights are slowly being taken from us by the Bush administration who plan to prosecute journalists if they sway too far left. Many people don’t realize that if Bush had his way, we wouldn’t be allowed to post our opinions, left, right, Liberal or Conservative, on this comment board. I am middle of the road, neither left nor right. But, my voice is as important as the next guy who decides to insult me. We can’t have our right to free speech taken from us. This is what The Dixie Chicks are saying to us: THAT WE MUST FIGHT FOR FREE SPEECH!

  25. There’s an important detail being left out of the blathering diatribes here: the Dixie Chicks opened their yaps about the Prez in ENGLAND, i.e. on foreign soil. Now, everybody knows that the US is the Greatest Country On Earth(tm) and that FREE SPEECH is a trademarked quality of said GCOE.

    Once the Chicks left US Airpsace, their words are fair game–sure, England SAYS they have free speech, but does anyone really know for sure that this is a fact? So Toby Keith was well justified in his brave evisceration of the chicks on every American media outlet he could find. Sometimes it takes a little reminder about just who is a patriot and who isn’t.

    And as for the warrior thing, well, consider me a private in the Toby Keith Army. I’d gladly follow his smoldering gaze into combat, where he would surely disarm the enemy by strumming his FORD(tm) guitar and warbling those songs that stir the heart. Then he would kick their asses (probably wouldn’t take names ’cause who can keep track of all that Arabic gobbledy-gook?)–talk about Shock ‘n’ Y’all, y’all!

    Every night when I put my baby boy to bed I chuck his Toby Keith Country Warrior Action Figure(tm) into his crib like it’s a grenade, and then I tickle him with all the pretend shrapnel that comes out of it. I just hope that War On Terror thing last long enough so my boy can get some Terrorist ass just like Toby does.

  26. WOW. Is this a record for comments on a NewWest story? I absolutely love your columns, Bob! But are people really more enraged by the Dixie Chicks and,…uh…Toby Keith, than the Bitterroot Resort plans or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings? Sheesh. I think ya’ll should all take a nap, sip some bourbon, and calm down about the Grammys. I think we can all agree that this “awards” show has been a piece of poo since the end of the 80’s. Rock on Bob.

  27. Haha! Carefull “A Real American”… If the DOD gets wind of the Toby Keith Army, it’s fully-auto Ford guitars and Country Warrior Action Figure grenades, they might just say, “Screw the surge, we’ll just Shock Ya’ll!”

  28. Dear “A Real American” do you want you kid to “get” some terrorist ass or kick some terrorist ass. If you want him to “get” some terrorist ass then I’m a little confused.

  29. I am by NO MEANS implying that Toby Keith sleeps with the enemy, though personally speaking, I think that whatever comforts a warrior during battle should be between him and whomever he chooses to sodomize.

  30. Great article. I took notes and will be doing some sampling. One nice result that came out of mainstream country’s abuse of the Chicks is that many of their fans are exploring other sources for music rather than just what CMT dishes out to us. The days of Reba, Toby, Big & Rich, etc., are done for many of us.

  31. By the way Uncle Sam. I had read about “Crazy” coming up to the Grammy show but Sunday was the first time I heard it. You’re right. Its a great song..better than NRTMN, that’s debateable, but its now on my iPod.

  32. quote: “and [I] begin frantically searching for a pawn shop so I can buy a pistol and blow my brains out.”

    Free world. Go for it.
    I stopped reading there, I was on bashing overload. Liberals, alway putting their foot high out of sight.

  33. Brilliant Bob. Simply brilliant. Its pretty clear from all the vitriol in the responses here that unfortunately we’ve left the debate of whether you simply like or dislike their music. The venom launched towards they’re songs in this thread suggests way way too much emotion for the assessment to be purely based on the merit of song writing or musical performance. So, seeing as we’re really only debating the oh-so intellectual issue of whether “TK sucks” or “The DCs suck”, I’ll throw my hat into the ring to be counted. I have listened to country music for many many years, growing up on Willie and Waylon. I bought the new Chicks album and was amazed by it. I had liked their music before hand, but was never… captivated by it if you will. With the new album, I listen whenever I can. Its coming up on nine months since its been released and its still hands down, the best album I’ve listened to in a long while. Thanks for the insightful article bob, I’ll be looking up some of the your defined “real” country because you really got the chicks right on.

  34. I have just got to put my 2 cents on here, since the writer gets to put his 2 cents and then some!!!

    First, I don’t hate the Dixie Chicks! I have a few of their CD’s and I have 2 or 3 songs that I love and 1 that brings tears to my eyes by them.

    Second, I am a Toby Keith Fan! Yet I try to stay neutral on this subject of TK VS DC. But this article has gone too far!!!

    Third, I am a Canadian, who is engaged to a US AIR FORCE Soldier!!! Hence an American to be. Damned Proud to be both!!!

    With those 3 things out in the open, here is what I think / feel about this article and its writer.

    1 – The writer (Bob) obviously either did not investigate what all he commented about when writing this article, or he neglected to state all the facts. Toby at first may have gone on a few talk shows, but he did not do it as a way to slander the DC’s in any way. He was promoting his latest CD each time he was on said shows!!! Toby has also stated in interviews and press releases that he has no comment about the DC’s and that it is a battle he will not fight. He knows and has stated that no matter what position he was to take He would lose. Note*** Any Male who goes up against a woman publically will always lose*** Toby has also made it crystal clear that he is neither pro war nor is he anti war!!! All Toby Does is “SUPPORTS THE TROOPS”

    2 – This entire feud between the DC’s and TK has been 90% Media hype and if the blasted media (ie: Bob) would stop publishing such slanderous articles towards TK and the DC’s then everyone would move on and forget about it.

    It was over 3 years ago, for Pete’s sake drop it already!!!!

    3 – Even though I am a fan of some of the DC’s music, I disagree with the song “Not Ready to Make Nice”. Have since I first heard it. Has anyone in the press (Bob) even broken down the words and phrases of that song?

    In My Opinion, that song should be banned because the way I see it from reading the lyrics and listen to it repetitively, All it does is tell kids / all people that it’s ok to hold a grudge, be mad, not forgive or forget and so on. In this day and age with all of the violence, crime, guns and murders (not to mention other tensions this world has to deal with day in and day out), a song with that type of message should not be allowed!!! This world need songs that are supportive, caring and show kids / all people that peace and forgiveness is the way to go!!!!!

    Lastly – As for Toby’s song “Courtesy of the Red White & Blue”, maybe Toby went a bit strong in the wording of “a boot in the Ass”, but consider 2 things about that.

    First, he never intended to record it, he only wrote it as a tribute to his father!!! Toby said “This was written a few days after the September 11th terrorist attacks. My father was a soldier in the Army in the ‘50s and always flew a flag to show his patriotism. I had just lost him in a car wreck six months before the attacks took place, so I wrote my feelings down. I never really intended for this to be a song. It was originally titled “Angry American.”

    Second, He only recorded after multiple requests from General James Jones who told Toby Keith it was his duty as an American citizen to record the song “The Angry American”!!!

    So now that you have a few more facts about all of this, maybe you should consider rewriting your article!!! This time maybe you will actually do some investigative reporting instead of just writing your Opinion!!!


  35. Dear Tanya just so you know this is an opinion column. Ever heard of one? I come here to hear what Bob’s opinion because I enjoy it. If you don’t like it that’s fine but I don’t think he’s gonna change for you. Maybe you should do some investigative reporting into what an opinion article is. Touche.

  36. Thanks for the thoughtful response Tanya. We look forward to you joining our ranks. However, I’d caution you again calling for the banning of someone’s artistic output, a.k.a.: free speech. I think the message to be gleaned from the DC song is that you shouldn’t let anyone bully you into backing down from your heartfelt opinions. The American right always seems to think that anyone who dissents from their (often minority) opinions should automatically be silenced, or worse. While this stance is greatly unpatriotic, it seems to be a cognitive dissonance they’re willing to live with. From one proud American to a future one, I implore to you do otherwise.

  37. Tanya, hah!! That was hilarious! I think we should ask Toby what he thinks about your position. Hey TK, Tanya says you’re just an poor little victim of those dastardly cold hearted journalists. That you did nothing whatsoever to warrant such hurtful and meanie weanie things said about you. That you were impotent to stop yourself from hurling insults during your promotional interviews. While Tanya doesn’t remember all the personal attacks you fired at the chicks in such a masculine and manly way… I do. I believe in your non-victimization. You were firmly in control of the things you said and did, no apologizes I’m sure from you. Well Toby? Does Tanya have it right? Are you really that wussy?

  38. BTW I grew up on the Classics!!! George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Tanya Tucker, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and many many more.

    I am not in any way referring to the DC’s in a bad way, like I said I am a fan of theirs.

    I also know that this is an opinion column, and I am voicing my opinion of what I think of this article, and 1 song.

    Lastly, I am in no way calling Toby Keith a wussy. I am just stating a fact. NO man can smash a woman without backlash.

    Hence In My OPINION, Toby can not win this battle, all he can do is stand up for himself. At the end of the day, the DC’s still come out on top!!!

  39. To Nick D

    In responce to: However, I’d caution you again calling for the banning of someone’s artistic output, a.k.a.: free speech.

    I have nothing against free speech, if not for that I would not be able to post my opinions here. I DID NOT call for the ban of anything, I said (if you scroll up and reread it) IN MY OPINION.

    I have never slammed the DC’s for anything they have said prior to this song, and with this song, again I am not slamming them for it either. I like the song, I just do not feel it is appropirate for Kids.

    I agree with you 110% about standing up for yourself. I just don’t see the song that way. AGAIN that is just MY OPINION!!!

  40. Music is forever changing. What gives BOB the right to tell us what is real country and what isnt. Dixie Chicks are counrty music, just because their not to bobs taste or what hes used to hearing on country radio, doesnt mean its not counrty. If they did make a record to bobs taste they wouldnt get played on the country radio ( in the south) anyways. they are kinda going shania twaines way..a little more rocky feeling to it. And when shania did come out with that type of music im sure bob was saying the same thing..THIS ISNT COUNTRY MUSIC>>cry me a river! The Grammys have been giving the country awards to counrty artists who wouldnt neccesarily get it at a one of those dumb counrty music awards.. i think its good for other artists getting a piece of the pie…sorry Toby Kieth maybe Bush will buy u a fake grammy to help u sleep at nite. and for tanyas comment…quote “that song should be banned”…is rediculous..u could find something wrong with every song out there. most music nowa days is all sexual, and here they are just standing up for them selfs and is one thing people can relate to. banning it is going a little over just a stupid thought. if u dont like the dixie chicks dont listen to them..

  41. “What gives BOB the right to tell us what is real country and what isnt.”
    The answer is… ding! The first amendment. Next question.

  42. yes freedom of speech, which is the reason DC is where they are now. Excpet the way they go about it is THIS IS MY OPINION. the way u go about it is… THIS IS WHAT IS…which in my OPINION is rediculous

  43. Bob you know a lot about music.
    I like you
    Do you know who that freeky neck tie wearing hairy faced shirt and green sweater untucked boner is that was up on the grammy stage with the chixie’s during their thank you phase?
    What a huge get for the nerd nation to place one of their own captains on one of the biggest primetime stages on earth.
    Way to go dudes!
    Bob I just can’t dream up a situation in which that dufus fashion statement maker was there with Natalie Maines shooting him goo goo grins.
    Do they owe him $?
    Does he have there children hidden in a hand dug plywood lined camouflaged topped bunker with a extension cord running into it?
    Does he designed their dresses?

    I hope you can help


  44. Was it just me or did these Dixie Chick ladies seem to bend way over backwards during their acceptance speeches to make nice and sound contrite and almost apologetic and pretty much inclined to even grovel a bit to be humble and to try to avoid gloating and to mend fences? Is it just me or is that the way it is with liberals? They get frustrated with election fraud and deliberately perverted national security information and erroneous justifications for war and corrupt no-bid contracts and insulting environmental policies and all; but, they’re almost always soon looking for a way to compromise and reach out to the other side and hold hands and start working together again. I guess that I am just overwhelmed by the reaction on the other side. I would have guessed, once again based on a tremendous amount of tremendously consistent experience, that, if anyone from the Toby Keith side of the house had won all of those awards, they would have been strutting and gloating and sticking in everyone’s face and generally acting like, well, a real manurehead. I suppose that it just reinforces, once again, my understanding of the differences in human nature or inhuman nature or something to that effect.

  45. Bob writes, “the arrogant knucklehead frat boy who was now the leader of the free world.” And the posts start flooding in: “How dare you insult Toby Keith, you filthy Commie!” Interesting.

  46. Butch – I’m pretty sure the fashion-challenged man on stage with the Chicks was producer Rick Rubin. Google him to see his long list of accomplishments and music genius.

    Bob – I really enjoyed your story/blog/column, particularly the part about what constitutes “real” country music. In the 80’s, Ricky Skaggs hooked me with “You’ve Got a Lover” and I followed country music, often via radio, for years. Not so the last five+ years. I’ve had to dig harder to find the good stuff, mostly through referrals or happenstance. Your story just gave me a few new artists to research and check out, so thank you for that. I need to give a big “Amen!” to your statement about Kelly Willis! I still get chills when I listen to “That’ll Be Me”.

    I liked the Dixie Chicks’ music before The Comment, I love them even more now – the Rick Rubin producing, the co-writing with Dan Wilson and other collaborators – the strong emotion they drew from both their public and personal lives has combined for beautiful, touching music that struck many chords with me. Particularly touching is “Silent House”, describing Natalie’s struggle with her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease.

    Bob, I’ve just discovered your blog on this site, but I’m quickly becoming a regular. I’m impressed with your sincerity and style. Thanks

  47. this article is not complete without mention of Jim Lauderdale. best singer/songwriter in Nashville, BAR NONE! it’s like discussing bluegrass and neglecting to mention John Hartford.

  48. I can’t disagree with the Lauderdale comment at all, good call Phil. Then again, Bob and all the commentators that followed can’t be expected to mention every artist of importance associated with the theme of this thread. I mean, Rick Rubin has been mentioned several times and not once did SLAYER come up! I’m sure even God is pissed about that. . . .

  49. Gotta love all the people raving about the Chick’s album sales, as if that is some sort of proof of their widespread appeal. Fact is, their album didn’t even break the top 30 on the Country Charts.

  50. LST –
    If the DCs HAD shot up the “Country” charts it would render Bob’s brilliant argument moot. Your post is more proof positive that reactionary thinking is not necessarily predicated on careful reading. The column wasn’t exactly shaded in nuance.

  51. The fact that I berated you for uncareful reading and then typed in the wrong acronym, now that’s ironic.

    Just like your post was!

  52. congrads to the dixie chicks…well deserved!

  53. The real people’s choice is Wylie Gustafson. If you listen to his music and don’t get up out of your chair, you ain’t drawing air. I’m surprised that New West has not featured this homegrown rancher, song-writer, and performer.

  54. I am also a huge fan of Wylie’s. Plus, he’s a real nice guy. You may or may not know, he is the little brother of Erik “Fingers” Ray.

  55. Julie, not bad for a couple of Montana cowboys from Conrad. Ever catch one of Wylie’s barnyard splendor concert ‘thank yous’ for his fellow Montanans up near the Two Medicine?

  56. Craig, I have not been to a barnyard splendor concert, but it sounds great! Last saw him at the Cut Bank Storytelling Roundup last year, sharing the stage with Rib and Erik. Rib is quite the character too. I agree – Wylie, and/or the Gustafson family, would be a great feature for New West.

  57. Julie, I missed the Roundup but I chated with Rib last May. Here’s info for others on this truly outstanding event:

    13th Annual Montana Storytelling Roundup

    Do you want to be frightened? titillated? entertained? amused? diverted? pleasured? distracted? Come to the 13th Annual Montana Storytelling Roundup at Cut Bank, Montana – Montana’s only storytelling festival. Let us entertain you with cowboy poetry, ghost stories, folk music, Indian storytelling, art, history, science – always emphasizing education. Between eight and ten entertainers from throughout the west converge on Cut Bank each spring for this one-of-a-kind event. Over 3,500 people are exposed to the age old art form of storytelling every year through the Montana Storytelling Roundup. Experience stories through poetry, stories, songs, music, art, photography, history, animals, and any other way you can imagine. There are many ways to tell a story. Fun for the entire family! A must see event for anyone interested in storytelling and the Old West.

  58. Sorry, the link above is wrong. Here is the correct link to the Newsday article on Toby Keith.,0,6077773.story?coll=ny-music-headlines

  59. As someone who has always appreciated the Dixie Chicks music, I still can’t believe that people care about what Natalie said 3 years ago. I just saw “Shut Up and Sing” and I think that everyone should see it. You will get to see what truly happened to them and how they feel about it. They didn’t go out of their way to bash Toby Keith, they responded to his comments. As for the comments about “Not Ready to Make Nice” not being acceptable for children and promoting holding a grudge. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. They outcry over one minor expression of opinion (which my husband went to Iraq and Afghanistan to defend….freedom of speech) devistated their lives. There were actual death threats made. Give me a break, I can’t imagine wanting to murder someone based on an expression of opinion. I have 2 children and they love the song. I think it is a fantastic expression of feelings. If I were them, I wouldn’t be ready to make nice either. Their lives were changed permentantly, yet without the benefit of radio play they have a platinum album, 5 grammys and a fantastic tour….let’s see TK pull that off.

  60. To para-phrase Einstein, only 5% of the people ever think—
    15% think they think—and 80% never think at all!!
    Bob, You and I and a few others are in the 5% group but these
    bloggs prove that most are in the 80% group—as are most of the
    dick-heads in Washington D.C.
    America—Land of the Free—You are free to do as you are told!!!

  61. I bought the Chicks album when it first came out. I only bought it to support the Chicks, after the right-wing hit job done on them. It was my first Chicks album, from my first listen I knew this album was special. After 10 months I am still listening to it. I have since bought all their other albums and saw their sold-out show in Washington DC.
    What bothered me the most was the blacklisting and the concerted effort by the right-wing media to destroy the Chicks career. That was intimidation and censorship by people who did not agree with then politicly. The years that followed Natalie’s comment on the war, has shown the Bush administration to be incompetent and untrustworthy. I hope the conservative country fans who get their news from Limbaugh, Hannity, O’lielly and a host of other right-wing mouthpieces will learn to think for themselves and open their eyes to what is going on in the world.

  62. Just came upon this article. Yes, I have 2 DC cd’s. But will NEVER buy their CDs again. How absolutely ignorant to clump Toby Keith fans as something other than good, intelligent people. The DC’s arrogance is what really ticks me off.
    Toby Keith has done more for his community, his country and the troops (without bragging about it), he is in a class of his own. He supports our TROOPS, period. What’s so wrong about putting into words how we truly feel (I think put a boot in their ass was genious!)? For the record, I’m a wife, mom, educated, hardworking AMERICAN and yes a warrior and proud of all of it!

  63. i used to listen to the Dixie Chicks until they informed me that i am not wanted as a fan, i am refering to a certan comment in which they stated that any so called fan who has them in a 5 disc changer with reba and toby keith is not their real fan, have it your way chicks because when asked to choose between the most amazing woman in music (reba) or some real original country screwups i choose the legendary queen of country music REBA McENTIRE!!!!
    P.S. toby is much smarter than the chicks anyways!

  64. Why is it that liberals can’t imagine anyone having an opinion that doesn’t match theirs? If anyone disagrees, they are automatically ignorant, blind, or brainwashed. Believe it or not, it is possible to think an issue out, and then have a considered opinion that isn’t the same as yours!!!! I believe what I believe on every subject because I have looked at all the sides, read the opinions, and come to my own conclusions. I’m sick to death of being told that I am an ignorant redneck, homophobic, a blind sheep, etc, etc, etc. I think the Dixie Chicks are great singers, and they used to be my favorite female singers. They chose to speak out in hate and anger, and insult me personally, and with freedom of speech comes repercussions that you have to be willing to take if you’re going to speak out! Their repercussions included having the people they insulted not willing to support them anymore! There was one moron who threatened Natalie supposedly, and that’s what is brought up over and over. Freedom of speech does not include the right to be listened to or believed!!