Friday, November 10, 2006

Wide Open Spaces

*my dad is going to disown me after this post

Last night a ticket to the Dixie Chicks sort of fell into my lap. I am not a rabid fan but I almost never say no to live music. Also, I had seen the girls on Oprah a few weeks ago talking about their new movie "Shut Up and Sing" and was curious to see who was showing up to their concerts these days.

The group I was with had all kind of things to say about the big controversy over what the lead singer had said about the president and the backlash that followed. I'll admit, when I first heard the clips from that show I was bugged. I am always annoyed when I pay $50 to hear someone's music and they think I really care what their mostly ridiculous political views are. But the longer it has dragged on, and the more people act as though there is something unpatriotic about expressing frustration with an inept President, the more I want to tatoo the Dixie Chicks logo on my forehead in solidarity. I love living in a country where we absolutely get to think and feel whatever we want and what's more, we can say it publicly. Natalie Maines doesn't hate America, she is frustrated with an administration that has nothing but mess things up since they got into office. After this week's elections, it looks like maybe she was just saying what plenty of people were thinking.

But this isn't really supposed to be a political rant. Whether or not I agree with what she said isn't actually the point. Last night when the show started, and these three beautiful, confident, immensely talented women come out on stage like they owned the place, I got incredibly emotional. Oprah had asked the other two members of the group if they ever wished Natalie hadn't said what she said and one of them responded, "you don't even think about that. We're family and when one of us gets attacked, you protect her. You don't worry about what she should have done, you just circle the wagons and take care of each other." The decision to stick by her comments hasn't been great for their reputation or their album sales. But I admire the heck out of the courage it takes to stand up for what you believe in even when it's not what the folks around you want to hear. As Natalie's voice was giving me goosebumps and Emily and Martie played a game of "watch how many instruments I can play and still harmonize like it's no big deal", I thought about the CMA awards this week and the drivel that won while these freakishly talented women didn't get so much as a mention. But then you look at them, doing the thing they love, with their very best friends, husbands and seven kids between them running around backstage, the courage and integrity to be themselves in and out of the public eye and I think, these are the kind of women I hope I can be when I grow up.

The highlight of the night though was when they played a song off their new album called "Long Way Around" and some of the lyrics snapped into focus a bunch of things that have been floating in my head for the last year or so

"Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found

Taking the long way
Taking the long way around"

I guess I've fallen into the trap of thinking that because I fall a little bit outside the lines of your typical Mormon girl that somehow I've messed up. All of the sudden it became really clear that taking the long way is not wrong, it's just another choice. In my heart I think I already knew that but my brain has been doing a really number on me lately. The order of things, the amount of time you spend in a job, the places you move, the heartaches you choose to enter into, the friendships you hang onto-those aren't a matter of right or wrong. My good friend Mike told me that turning 30 was what finally set him free of all the unreasonable expections of "order" leftover from the lists we make in high school. I'm tearing mine up as we speak.


Rod Clifford said...

If I didn't disown you when you voted for Boston's favorite elitist, I certainly won't do it for speaking your mind. I agree the Dixie Chicks are incredibly talented, and I enjoyed their earlier work (even after one of the orginals was uncermoniously dumped mid-climb to fame by the other two friends). But I've not liked angry music since the 60s, and their latest video seems to be mostly that. (yes, I have seen it)

Two things come to mind: everyone has a right to speak, but no one is obligated to listen; and one's right to say anything at all doesn't necessarily mean one has anything at all to say.

aporitic said...

Hey Rod,

I think your point about angry music is an excellent one but let's not confuse the issue here.

Katie went to a Dixie Chicks concert. This should be of concern to everyone who knows her for the following reason:

a)- There is a lot of country music out there,

b) - There is alot of very good music out there,

c) - Categories a) and b) seldom correspond, especially when it comes to pop country, so one should be EXTREMELY discriminating about the contry music one chooses to listen to. (In case any of you out there didn't get that, the standard here is EXTREMELY discriminating.)

Dixie Chicks (regardless of politics) don't make that cut.


"It was free" isn't much of an excuse either. I don't eat lunch at McDonald's just cause someone gives me a coupon for free chicken nuggets.

Anonymous said...

I saw the Dixie Chicks in concert in Boston a few years ago and the show was absolutely AMAZING! Like you, the tickets sort of fell into my lap, but after seeing their sheer raw talent, I am definitely a fan now. It was a few months after the controversial comments and when Natalie Maines alluded to the incident, the whole audience laughed along with her. I like to think that we all agreed that expressing an opinion is not treason.

I find myself cutting myself more slack and caring more about whether I'm actually happy than if I'm doing the "right" thing ever since my numbers flipped over to 3-0. Not that I've become some sort of hedonistic libertine, but I'm more comfortable in my own skin. Kind of liberating, really. :)

Tatanka said...

Nice post Katie. I personally like to hear artists talk at shows. I can buy a live album and listen to it for days, but hearing their thoughts helps me see them as more than just artists. I also think their words have the possibility to add so much more to the music. For instance, if she followed that statement by playing "Traveling Soldier" all the sudden the song is so much more complex/interesting.

Plus I know if I got on stage I'd ramble all kinds of crazy stuff no one cares about.

Sorry this post appears to be from Tantanka, he's taking over my internet presence.


k8 said...

dad-all good points. although with reference to their lastest album, the title cut is a little angry, although it works well for fights with presidents AND boy trouble. And you really must take a listen to "Lullaby" on that album. She said it was the song they wrote for their kids once they got the angry out and it's just lovely. I've been putting it on CD's for my new mom friends for months now.

apo-careful there. had i gone to see Faith Hill, or Sara Evans, or Carrie Underwood, I might agree wtih you. But the Dixie Chicks are solidly talented. Especially Martie and Emily. I was watching whichever one smoke the heck out of a fiddle solo and it made me sorry I quit the violin before making my dad's dreams of a country star child come true. They write their own stuff, they play their own multiple instruments and they can all sing. Fills most requirements for legit in my book.

Kelly-i knew you would see my point ; )

shawn-i respectfully disagree. They did play "traveling soldier" as the encore. and they didn't say a word about it-they didn't need to. The song is powerful, the lyrics did all the work. As good art should-it doesn't need an explanation. It's like Robin's photography-if she's doing it right she doesn't need a paragraph to say what the image should right? I guess what bothers me most of the time is the artist assuming that because their music resonates with me, I agree with their views on everything. I sat through enough shows in SLC where the band acted like Mormons were total morons and I always wanted to raise my hand and say "you know 50 percent of us ARE mormons right?" but i digress.

i wonder what Tatanka DOES think abou this ; )

Tatanka said...

Tatanka hates art, it's for hippies.

While Robyn's photos can stand on their own, if I gave you a little background on some of them they'd instantly become ten times more awesome. For instance, when her clients look at the pictures they get a lot more out of them than you or I would because they have history and words wrapped up in them. It's not just a picture of a dog licking a woman's face but a picture of the dog that saved the woman's live because it scared off a man coming at her with a knife one late night. But I admit that is different than giving political discourse between your songs, although in the Chicks instance I liked it because it came from an unexpected direction (the country music scene).

Rod Clifford said...

Can't resist this comment to aporitic(?), who apparently doesn't know there was a time when you liked the Forrester Sisters, Garth Brooks and a number of really fine country artists. As for the implication that country music isn't a good as some other kinds, as someone who knows a bit about guitar playing (at least enough to recognize ability when I hear it), I'd challenge most of the current crop of indie pickers to try to keep up with any run-of-the-mill studio player in Hashville or Austin, or anyone in a band backing the star on the road. Same with keyboards. Might as well add violin/fiddle, which the Chick plays like a woman possessed. Finally, e-mail me "Lullaby"; I'd like to hear it.