Dixie Chicks lead vocalist Natalie Maines still isn’t planning to apologize for telling a concert audience in London she’s ashamed that President Bush is from the trio’s home state of Texas. In an interview with 60 Minutes anchor Steve Kroft, Maines said her comment in 2003 “was definitely meant as an insult.”
Maines and bandmates Martie Maguire and Emily Robison were profiled in a 60 Minutes segment that aired Sunday (May 14) as part of the media coverage leading up to the May 23 release of their new album, Taking the Long Way.
When Kroft asked Maines if she was sorry for what she said in London, she replied, “No. Sorry about what? Sorry about what? Sorry about not wanting to go to war and not wanting people to die?” Asked if she would do it again, Maines said, “Yeah, I’ve said so much worse than that, I’m telling you.”
The segment was titled “Dixie Chicks: Not Ready to Make Nice,” a reference to the first single from the new album. The trio co-wrote the song with Dan Wilson as a response to what happened after they offered their opinions about the Bush administration and the war in Iraq.
Noting that the song was difficult to write, Robison said, “We each felt the same way, but … we didn’t want to make too much light of it. We didn’t want it to be too preachy or … heavier than it was. And after we wrote this song, we felt like it was exactly how we felt.”
When Kroft suggested they were pouring salt on a wound, Maines replied, “We didn’t write the song thinking about what other people wanted us to say or what would be a hit on radio. I needed to make this record to be able to get past it.”
Noting that they couldn’t pretend that nothing had happened, Maguire added, “You can’t come back going, ‘All right, let’s pick and grin all over again.’”
Although the song has been a top download on the Internet, the single peaked at No. 36 on Billboard‘s country singles chart, a list reflecting national radio airplay. Maines said she wasn’t surprised at the reaction from country radio programmers.
“I think you explain it that when you’re in the corporate world and when that’s your livelihood and when 100 people e-mail you that they’ll never listen to your station again, you get scared of losing your job,” Maines said. “And why did they need to stand up for us? They’re not our friends. They’re not our family. And they cave.”
Kroft questioned why the Dixie Chicks would risk insulting an audience that provided them success in the first place.
“I think I know where your question’s leading, and it goes back to the answer that we don’t make decisions based on that,” Maines said. “We don’t go, ‘OK, hmm, our fans are in the red states, so I’m going to play a red, white and blue guitar and put on my ‘I love Bush’ T-shirt.’ And we’re not like that because we’re not politicians. We’re musicians.”
Maguire said the Dixie Chicks’ fan base doesn’t fit the stereotype of today’s country music audience. While she did not suggest that the country audience is mostly rednecks, she said, “But over the years, and especially since country music’s turned into this redneck thing, it’s become kind of a negative. I think for a while, a lot of artists were doing great things that … were broadening the audience so that country was cool. … So it makes me sad that it’s kind of reverted back to a place that I’m not that proud of, and this is coming from a true country fan. I can’t listen to the radio right now.”
The 60 Minutes feature also discussed the trio’s reaction after Maines received a death threat at a concert in Dallas. The matter was investigated by the FBI and Texas Rangers.
“It was definitely scary because … it wasn’t just somebody wanting to write a hate letter,” Maines said. “That was somebody who obviously thought they had a plan.”
“You don’t know what people are capable of,” Robison said. “We had a radio station say they had our picture on the side of one of their vans, and they were just driving down the highway, and then a car pulled up with a shotgun and pointed at them out the window. Just because our picture was on their van.”