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Dixie Chicks: Back In The Studio
Feature Article by Jim Moulton

Well, The Chicks are finally back in the studio again, out in L.A. with producer Rick Ruben who became famous with his Johnny Cash "American Recordings" series. More than that though, Ruben is more known for his recording of hard rock bands. So, what's up? Here's what I think, the Chicks are up to a rock record. Why? Well, their country CDs just are not selling anymore even though they have been back on country radio for awhile. 

There are three stores that I survey for a publicist I represent, the most prominent, a local FYE. The manager told me that the retail prices of the Chicks keep dropping because they are not selling. You can get any Chick's disc for eleven bucks, even their great double live disc. Another way that I judge how popular a CD is is to see how much used ones are going for on Amazon. The last time that I checked, "Wide Open Spaces" was selling for $1.99 used. Not so good. I remember back in '98 when I first saw the Chicks CD in Kmart, I said to myself, what's this, the Spice girls of Country music. Little did I know then that that CD "Wide Open Spaces" would change country music, still is by far my favorite country CD.

I have been privileged to see the Chicks twice, once in '99 and the "Fly Tour" in 2000. These girls know how to put on a show. Breaking record after record the Chicks ruled Country Music for four years til one March day in England when Natalie said something she doesn't regret. She dissed the President of our country in another country. They were pulled off Country radio for six months. Angry fans burned and broke the plastic of their idols. Fortunately for the Chicks, they had just successfully sued Sony Records and gotten a twenty million dollar advance, but the sales stopped. Home was at six million when Natalie said the sentence heard around the world. Home is still at Six Million. Their excellent double live CD only went Gold.

They disappeared into the Texas plains for quite awhile, while Sony pumped millions into promoting Gretchen Wilson, a down to earth, redneck gal. The Chicks left a huge void , trying to be filled by a long parade of big label wannabes who for the most part were and are mediocre. Rocker Toby Keith became hugely popular. It was a different world where the youngster had a chance again. Gretchen Wilson is not big on looks or talent, but she brought something real, that real country fans could relate to. 

Back to the Chicks, there is a joke on their website about their upcoming Spanish calypso album. The Chicks owe Sony a lot. Sony made them what they are, picking them up in '95 and sending them out on the road to polish their new honky tonk country sound. Sony Nashville says they will be really involved in the new disc even if it is not a Nashville record. Paul Worley and Blake Chancey really made a masterpiece with Wide Open Spaces and followed it up with the great, but more pop sounding Fly. Then Lloyd Maines produced the sparse, acoustic Home which was originally a demo.

Is Country music ready for a new Chicks CD? No. Sorry, it just would not work today. Man, I look at the Billboard top seventy five and have not even heard half of the new artists. The Chicks new disc will be a real mainstream pop/rock CD, most likely with loads of hi profile guests like Kid Rock and Sheryl Crowe.

Do I still like the Chicks? Yeh, just as much as ever. Can't wait.

Do you still like the Chicks? Can't stand 'em? Submit a "Real People Review"
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The Dixie Chicks are a phenomenal group which has forever changed the face of country music. It is sad that country listeners have banned these girls for vocalizing their political opinions. However, I am sure that their new CD and accompanying sound will be as amazing as every other project they have sinked their teeth into. Rock on chicks... 
~ Flyboy

Maybe the problem isn't the Dixie Chicks, but hypocritical country music fans. Nobody complains about Toby Keith (or most of the rest of Nashville) when he and they praise Bush and appear at Republican political events, but Natalie should "just shut up and sing" when she dares to express another view? Seems like these fans believe in free speech only for 
those they agree with. As I said, hypocrites. Very un-American too.
~ Joe

They are getting exactly what they deserve. I hope they fall flat on their a__es. They should have dumped that loud mouth heifer as soon as she opened her mouth against our president. Natalie is from my home town and we are plenty mad about her comments. Just so you know, we are ashamed that Natalie Maines is from Lubbock, Tx.
~ J C

I LIKE THEIR MUSIC....NATALIE IS A GREAT SINGER!!!! SHE NEEDS TO DO JUST ONE THING .....IT'S SIMPLE...
"SHUT UP AND SING!
~ William

For a month or two after Natalie's comments, I didn't want to listen to them any more. I have softened and now I am eager for new Dixie Chicks music. I think the time is just about perfect for a new album. Country music is wide open with lots of new and less well known artists now. They most likely will not repeat the success of the first two CD's but who really could expect that. As long as the songs are solid (and I am sure they will be), they will be just fine.

Natalie's comments remind me of John Lennon when the Beatles first came to America and he compared the Beatles popularity to God. It was bigger nationally than Natalie's comments were and we certainly forgave and forgot. No one even thinks of that when they think of John Lennon today. If they can get past it and not talk about much anymore, it will pass and almost everyone will move on.
~ Paul C. 

I enjoy the Chicks music, they have a lot of talent. And they ARE allowed to say what they think. Freedom of speech is part of America. However with that right comes the flip side, consequences. They have to live with the choices they make, as do we all. And sadly, their choice was to be disrespectful. Granted, their right, but none the less sad. Singers have the right to say whatever, and we as fans have the right to buy or not to buy. Movie stars have the right to also say whatever, and we as fans have the right not to purchase tickets to their movies. I do not appreciate those who use their stardom to pass on their beliefs on stage. I am exercising my right: I will not burn my CD's, nor will I purchase anymore.
~ A Country Music Fan 

It's an absolute shame how the Dixie Chicks have been treated. Some people have forgotten that this is a FREE country & we're all allowed to have different opinions. It's funny that you don't see Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp being blasted for the political views. And now Toby Keith has said he doesn't know we should be fighting this war either but no one is attacking him. At least Natalie stands by what she said instead of "flip flopping" like Mr. Keith.
The bottom line is the Chicks don't just make good music or even exceptional music. They make awesome, incredible music & that should be all that matters. I am & will always be a huge fan.
~ A.C.

They had the world by the tale - then in London they blew it - they disrespected our troops - our troops see to it we remain free. Natalie is the rebel - it is a shame - so talented. I would not pee on her if she was on fire.
~ Former Chick's Fan

I am super excited to hear that the chicks are coming out with a new album. I think Natalie had every right in the world to say what she did about the president, I support the chicks 100%. Some of my friends don't agree with the opinions that I have, but they have not stopped supporting me. it is too bad the the country music listeners couldn't do the same thing. they need to pull their head out. amazing talent is hard to come by, so when we have it, we should let people share it!
~ Joe T.

It really is too bad how the Dixie Chicks have been treated. They opened a lot of doors for country music, to people who otherwise despise it. I know of plenty of people, including my husband, who has nothing good to say about country music, but is more than willing to listen to the Dixie Chicks because of there original sound and authentic talent. Living in a free country as we do, it's good that the Chicks can say what's on their minds. It's too bad that their words has derailed there career and that we will likely lose them from country music. Also, it's too bad that Toby Keith gets away with capitalizing on there downfall. While he blasts the Chicks for there words and encourages his fans to commit such juvenile acts as not buying their CDs and running over them with vehicles, Keith has no problem with Willie Nelson singing an antiwar song during his own concert. I believe that their is a bit of impropriety here...something to do with gender, I'm guessing.

I, for one, am excited to hear that they are working on a new album. It's too bad that the public witnessed so many country music fans and stars treat them as they did. I think it has soured a lot of potential country fans that the Dixie Chicks could have won over.

PS. I'll have to admit that I have been known to like a Toby song...but he has certainly shwon what a jerk he can be. I can support the soldiers without agreeing with everything President Bush does and that's what's so great about this country and why I consider myself to be patriotic and proud to be an American. It's sad that Toby can't see that. However, like the Chicks, he is entitled to his opinions.
~ Leeann W.

I like them as much as I did and I have Wide Open
Spaces, Fly, and Home. Nope, I didn't break mine... haha, but
I think everyone has the right to have their own opinion, if people don't like that, oh well. 
~ M
ike C.

 

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