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'Radical chicks'

Published: Sunday May 21, 2006

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From a TIME press release:

New York - “I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President. But I don't feel that way anymore. I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever,” Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines tells TIME's music critic Josh Tyrangiel, of her remark to a London audience in 2003: “Just so you know, we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” TIME's cover story, “Radical Chicks,” hits newsstands Monday, May 22nd.

“I got hot from my head to my toes-just kind of this rush of 'Ohhh, s_,' says Dixie Chick Emily Robison of Maines' 2003 statement. “It wasn't that I didn't agree with her 100%; it was just, 'Oh, this is going to stir something up.'”

The first single from the Dixie Chicks' new album, Taking the Long Way (out May 23), is called Not Ready to Make Nice. It's quite possible that in singing about their anger at people who were already livid with them and were once their target audience, the Chicks have written their own ticket to the pop-culture glue factory, writes Tyrangiel.

“I guess if we really cared, we wouldn't have released that single first,” says Dixie Chick Martie Maguire. “That was just making people mad. But I don't think it was a mistake.” Robison tells TIME: “We wrote it for ourselves, for therapy.”

“I'd rather have a smaller following of really cool people who get it,” Maguire tells TIME, “who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do.”

“Everything was so nice and fine and happy for us for the longest time,” Maines says of their pre-incident days. “It was awesome to feel those feelings again that I felt in high school: to be angry, to be sure that you're right and that the things you do matter. You don't realize that you're not feeling those feelings until you do. And then you realize how much more interesting life is.”

“Their old audience feels a little betrayed, a little left behind maybe,” says Country Music Television's executive vice president Brian Philips. That may explain why, as the Chicks and country began their breakup, country fans ran into the arms of brilliant redneck instigator Toby Keith, who displayed a doctored photo of Maines and Saddam Hussein at his concerts.

“You could tell this thing had strengthened them personally but shaken them artistically,” says producer Rick Rubin. “What turned me on, though, was that even though people were divided over what they said, people cared what they said, and that's a very strong position for an artist to be in. For the first time the girls, these cute little girls, had a platform.”

Tim McGraw, one of the few vocal Democrats in country, and the only major artist who would speak on the record about the Dixie Chicks, says, “You've got to remember this is a family skirmish, and it's possible there's more than one thing going on.”

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