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Dixie Chicks/ Shut Up & Sing/ Taking the Long Way

April 23rd, 2007

“And how in the world can the words that I said/
send somebody so over the edge/
that they’d write me a letter/
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing/
or my life will be over”

— Not Ready to Make Nice
Dixie Chicks

I’ve loved the Dixie Chicks since the first time I heard “There’s Your Trouble” in 1998. My favorites for country music are… Johnny and June (of course), the Dixie Chicks, Hal Ketchum and anything bluegrass, especially Doc Watson.

In country music, the women are always leaving and the men are always sorry and that’s why I like it.

My sis, however, has never been a fan of country (except for Johnny and June, because dang, we all loved them) or bluegrass. So when she showed up at my house with a copy of Shut Up & Sing and told me You need to watch this movie right now, I thought, well, that’s something different.

She watched most of it with me, then split. I was all, “I LOVE THIS MOVIE” all through the whole thing, and I kept having to rewind the DVD and watch scenes over again. Then when my husband got home, the guy who likes jazz, not so much country, I made him watch some scenes from it. After the kids went to bed I made him watch the whole thing with me. So I watched it twice in one day. More if you count all those rewinds. And I’m happy and pissed off and crying and thinking, damn, get a grip, WM.

You know the whole story, right? They open their Top of the World tour in England, Natalie Maines, the lead singer, says, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas” (whereas I’ll take it one step further and state, just so you know, I’m ashamed George Bush is from the U.S. because this kind of bullshit is not what we stand for here. Can we please bring our guys home? Thank you.).

Hell breaks loose for the Dixie Chicks.

The movie documents the fall-out, the radio stations’ boycott of their music, FUTK, their fight to keep making music and speaking their minds and the amazing stamina of their hair and make-up people. (Just kidding on that last part. I’m like — damn. Can they do me next?)

Wacky Girl: “I like the way they do their costumes and hair.” (And no, it’s not really a kid-appropriate movie, but I watched it with her anyhow. Because I want her to know women are tough.)

The movie (and the CD, Taking the Long Way, which is my new all-time favorite CD) just really moved me, because as a woman, especially if you’re a mouthy woman and refuse to say yes and roll over, you get told shut up shut up shut the fuck up over and over. And not just by men. Sometimes it’s female bosses, or other women who don’t want to “look bad” so they not only don’t back you up, they tell you to shut it. And eventually (if you’re lucky, if it works out, if you’re persistent, if you’re a blogger, artist, writer, mother, daughter, friend, lover, fighter), eventually you stand up and say, No, I won’t shut up.

It’s been almost eleven years since I left my ex. We were together when I was 20, for about a year, then got back together when was 27, for almost five years. I loved him like crazy. Then he found a new love, methamphetamine, and then he got crazy. (Crazier, I should say — he was always a little edgy.) He tried to kill me. Four times. He failed, thank God. I had to take out a restraining order, I lost my home, my cars, most of my stuff, my pets (two dogs and two cats)…

“You lost everything,” some rude woman at my work said. (Thanks, I hadn’t noticed. Really?) We were out at lunch, a team lunch, with about 12 other work people. “What did you get, anyway?” she asked.

“My writing,” I told her (all my journals, poetry and stories) “and my life.” (And later, my husband, my kids… my writing. Myself.)

So thanks, Dixie Chicks, from one chick to another. Because the last time I checked it was still a free country.


  1. mamatoo says

    Ok, wackymommy… I love you and I love women and I believe we’re made to have hearts & minds of our own. I even love women who wholly disagree with me and are not afraid to voice themselves.
    But here’s my deal… is it possible to just be an artist/entertainer anymore in the U.S.? Or does everyone have to have a political stand and get press by any means neccessary?

    April 23rd, 2007 | #

  2. WackyMommy says


    Did you miss the part where I said my ex tried to kill me? Let me be clear: He came at me with an ax, a hammer, he tried to choke me, he tried to run me down with his car. I am lucky to be alive.

    And my writing, my art, motherhood, marriage, everything I’ve done since, has been impacted by one thing: I stood up to him and I survived. I was lucky and timing was on my side. Others have not been so lucky.

    My politics go hand in hand with my writing. That’s not true for all artists, no. But I can only speak for myself. It is a political thing for a woman to tell a man, Don’t hurt anyone. Don’t kill anyone.

    Natalie Maines did not make her statement for personal gain — she happened to be on tour in Europe, the war against Iraq was just firing up, there had just been a gigantic peace rally in England.

    We’ve lost, as of today, 3,227 Americans since the war began. Who knows what the Iraqi death count is, but conservative numbers put it at 50,000. Some have said it’s as high as 655,000. http://www.breitbart.com/artic....._article=1

    So if some person who has an audience — me, some famous musician, an actor, my pastor — wants to call bullshit then I say call bullshit. That’s a lot of grandmas, grandpas, babies, friends, lovers, mothers, fathers, teachers, doctors, gardeners, being killed.

    It could have been me, just in a different situation. I have always thought that war is not so very different from domestic violence. Violence is violence.



    April 23rd, 2007 | #

  3. Himself says

    Personally, I believe artists and entertainers have an obligation to take a stand on critical issues of our times. There are plenty of bland, generic, glossy pop groups out there who won’t take a stand. This is pretty much how I categorized the Dixie Chicks in my mind before this incident.

    Then there are those who take the opposite stand, singing about kicking ass for God and America, and they get no flack at all.

    I still don’t care for Dixie Chicks as entertainers all that much, but I’ve got a lot more respect for them as human beings after watching this film.

    April 23rd, 2007 | #

  4. mamatoo says

    didn’t mean to offend, WM. Sorry.

    April 23rd, 2007 | #

  5. Ash says

    To both you and the Dixie Chicks!

    April 24th, 2007 | #

  6. Amber says

    i can not believe that a fan would write that and send it. what is she crazy. the chicks are going to speak their minds because they want to “FREDOM OF SPEECH”. rock on dixie chicks i suport you all the way.

    May 1st, 2007 | #

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