What the Return of the Dixie Chicks Could Mean for Country

After 14 Years, We're All Ready to Make Nice

I think I speak for almost everyone when I say that the return of the Dixie Chicks could be the panacea country music needs right now.

When they revealed their plans to release a new album — Gaslighter — after nearly 14 year of raising children and pursuing some solo projects, there seemed to be an overwhelming sense of joy.

Because we know what it feels like to miss them, and then what it feels like to have them back.

When Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison released their 7th album Taking the Long Way in 2006, the album and the single “Not Ready To Make Nice” won a combined five Grammy awards in 2007. I’d interviewed their producer Rick Rubin at the time, and he told me, “We did this in a way that transcends country.” That album had been a long time coming as well. So instead of churning out mediocrity every two years, the trio seems content to wait until they’re ready. And by then, we are so ready.

Maines talked about the new music last week on a podcast called Spiritualgasm, and almost immediately, loyal Dixie Chicks fans started spreading the good news.

And I think the way country fans are responding to music they haven’t even heard yet is very telling. Even with very promising all-girl trios in our world right now — Maddie & Tae, Pistol Annies, Runaway June, the Highwomen — there is something about the Dixie Chicks music that we could use more of. Maines voice and attitude? Robison’s banjo and dobro? Maguire’s fiddle and mandolin?

Yes to all of the above.

Now, that said, no matter how country Gaslighter is (or isn’t), it will likely not see the light of day on country radio. But that hardly seems to matter any more. The music can be bought, downloaded, streamed, and then best of all, heard live when the Dixie Chicks make a return to the road for a 2020 tour. In fact, in 2006, Robison had told me exact;y where the band stood on the will-they-or-won’t-they question about country radio. “If they play it, it’s just icing on the cake. But we just can’t hand over the power to country radio,” she’d said, “because we worked too hard.”

And fingers crossed that the Dixie Chicks will have some music videos coming soon. Check out their last one, directed by London-based Sophie Muller.

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