Jason Isbell Blames Dixie Chicks’ 2003 Blacklist on Being Women
Americana star Jason Isbell has a simple explanation for why the Dixie Chicks were blacklisted in the country music industry after making disparaging comments about then-President George W. Bush in 2003—and it has nothing to do with the words they actually said.
In an interview with Pod Save America co-host Tommy Vietor published Sept. 11, the singer puts it succinctly: "That's because they were women. One hundred percent...If Tim McGraw had done it, nobody would have cared. It's because they were women. They were talking out of turn."
Isbell's words became even more pointed: "Watch Eric Church's record sales. They're not going to drop. After his interview in Rolling Stone, where he talked about how assault weapons are not the best idea for everybody? He talked like he didn't particularly love the NRA? Nothing is going to happen to Eric Church. Guys—like me—can say whatever we want to say.
"But that thing happened because [frontwoman] Natalie [Maines] was a woman," he continues. "I thought forever that it happened because they were selling their records to people who weren't similar enough to them. I thought they got popular on country radio, middle America is buying these albums, and Natalie is not the kind of person who believes the same thing as the majority of their audience. So when she allows herself to be herself, there's this huge blowback."
Isbell says he was struck by a revelation when playing the same venue in London where the Chicks made their infamous comments—that the problem was not Maines' opinions, it was something else.
"It happened because she was a woman. People didn't want to hear her opinion. And it gave them the opportunity to push another woman out of the entertainment business."
Listen to the full interview below (Isbell's commentary on the Chicks starts at 12:30):'
Isbell was the big winner at the recent 2018 Americana Honors and Awards, held Sept. 12 in Nashville. He took home awards for album and song of the year, as well as duo/group of the year for his work with his band the 400 Unit.