Remember When Natalie Maines Criticized the President?
This is not just a random walk down country controversy memory lane. It was March 10, 2003 that Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks told a crowd in London that they were “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas,” referring to George W. Bush.
The resulting backlash was swift and severe.
The immediate reaction was not as hostile as one would expect. The crowd cheered, and the superstar trio went to bed without a second thought about what they had just done. Within the week country radio stations were not only banning their music, they were renting steamrollers and hosting parties to crush all Dixie Chicks albums into dust. It was as if an entire format had been waiting and planning for such a quip.
Toby Keith didn’t help much, but in fairness, he was responding to Maines, who’d said his hit “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” didn’t represent country music like it deserved to be represented. There was the ‘F-U-T-K’ T-shirt … and one of the most intense feuds in country music history.
Politics aside, country music lost a superstar act that day. The Dixie Chicks were as big as any artist in Nashville, and their extraction from the radio left a hole to be filled by lesser-known talent. They’d recover with a 2006 album called Taking the Long Way that won several Grammys. But if there’s a time when they’ll be welcomed back with open arms, it’s not yet on the horizon.