Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dixie Chicks – Taking The Long Way

Dixie Chicks – Taking The Long Way

Natalie Maines has issues. Normally, outside of Jerry Springer, we don’t get to hear anyone try to deal with their problems, but on Taking The Long Way, we get to hear Natalie work through the consequences of a few misplaced words spoken on March 10, 2003.

Many of the songs on the new Dixie Chicks album openly address the consequences that resulted from Natalie Maines voicing her displeasure with having to share the state of Texas with the second president Bush during a London concert just weeks before the United States entered into its current war with Iraq in March of 2003.

In her own words she said, “Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” Later, in an effort to clarify what was said, she went on to say, “I feel the president is ignoring the opinion of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world. My comments were made in frustration, and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view.” With those simple words, Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks found themselves at the center of media frenzy, receiving death threats and on the outs with the country music community as a whole.

After three years, the Dixie Chicks have returned with their fourth studio album, Taking The Long Way.

If you take the album out of context and try to ignore the reason for some of the lyrics, Taking The Long Way is a good album. It’s a really good album. If you add back in the circumstances, it’s even better. Knowing…well not really knowing but having a vague understanding of the environment these songs were written in help make the lyrics and emotions behind them seem just that much more personal and relevant.

There is a definite line drawn between earlier Dixie Chicks albums and Taking The Long Way. There is no Goodbye To Earl here which may disappoint some listeners, but the album doesn’t suffer from its absence. The signature musicianship that helped to make the Dixie Chicks earlier albums the successes they were is still evident on Taking The Long Way. However, it is showcased in songs that appear to have a new found sense of urgency to them and that seem more closely related to singer/songwriters like Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Carol King than other contemporary country artists one would normally associate with the Dixie Chicks.

In all respects, this is a more mature album by three individuals who were forced into a situation where they had to either grow as individuals and musicians or cease to exist. After hearing Taking The Long Way, I think they made the right choice.

You can purchase Taking The Long Way @

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