Dixie Chicks – Not Ready To Make Nice

The Dixie Chicks are a talented and succesful American country all female band which has also successfully crossed over into other genres. They have won 13 Grammy Awards as of today. This song is one of my personal favourite, due to its cool lyrics and music video. And also for the story behind it.

During a London concert, ten days before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, lead vocalist Natalie Maines said “we don’t want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States (George W. Bush) is from Texas”. That statement offended many Americans, who thought it rude and unpatriotic, and the ensuing controversy cost the band half of their concert audience attendance in the US. The incident negatively affected their career and led to accusations of the three women being “un-American”, as well as hate mail, death threats & the public destruction of their albums in protest. As a result, the band shunned themselves from the public eye and retreated themselves to the studio to make an album, their careers on the line.

The controversy, and the band’s reaction to it, is the major theme of some of the songs in their new album, including this one. This song is their first single to be released. It is a statement of how they feel over the controversy, the banning of their songs from music radio stations and also their freedom of speech. The first two lines is a killer –

Forgive, sounds good . . Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting

And the song is so well written that most people cannot even tell if it concerns the controversy. Indeed, the song do have a universal interpretation. As with almost all country songs, anyone can basically relate their personal experience to it. That’s the beauty of country songs in general. That’s why I kinda liked country music. It’s personal and it gets to you. However, if you listen closely or read the lyrics, the final lines of the fourth verse are no doubt about the death threats the band has received –

” And how in the world, can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge, that they’d write me a letter
Saying that I better shut up and sing, or my life will be over

If you think the lyrics are cool and truly well written, wait till you see the music video. It’s pure genious and full of anger & defiance. Take a look.

The vid uses the contrast of dark and white colors. It starts with a scene of the lead singer painting the white clothes of the other two band members with black paint, which symbolizes the boycott of the band. Then, the singer is seen wearing a black dress with her hands on a puddle of black paint. In another scene, the band are sitting in a chair and when the singer gets up to say something, the other two pull her back in to the chair.

Then, the band are seen in an environment that looks like a classroom and the teacher sends the singer to write the English proverb “To talk without thinking is to shoot without aiming” on the blackboard. On the final scenes of the video, the singer is seen in front of three doctors in what appears to be a mental institution, trying to escape from them. It is a pretty cool vid and the lyrics and voice simply fits and complement one another ever so perfectly.

As a result, the song won 3 Grammy awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year & Best Country Performance of 2007. It’s pretty amazing for the band to overcome all that shit, refuse to give in and back down and still be defiant enough to release an album in response to what happened. It’s a make or break effort and they decided to fuck it and give it a shot. Cuz just as what the title said, they are not ready to make nice.

And that’s what I call pure rockstar attitude.