Saturday, November 18, 2006

Shut Up & Sing

For my birthday, last June 2nd, Cameron surprised me with the Dixie Chicks' new cd. While I enjoy their music greatly, in the midst of planning our move to California, I hadn't even known they had a new cd coming out. It was quite a treat.

That weekend, I went online to see what the Chicks were up to and noticed they were scheduled to play near our new home shortly after we arrived in California. Tickets for their Oakland show were going on sale that morning. I have been to and been blown away by Dixie Chicks' shows in the past. It seemed like I was supposed to go to this one too.

If everything was going wonderfully for them (the top selling female band in any genre), I might have been content to listen to the cd from the comfort of my home. But, in light of recent controversy, I wanted to show my continued support for them by going to the show.

You are probably aware of what transpired, but if not, the gist of it is that during a show in London, at the beginning of the Iraq war, the band's lead singer, Natalie Maines, made an off-hand comment which had big repercussions. She said, "By the way, we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas." While this is undoubtedly an inflammatory comment, she was hardly alone in expressing the sentiment at the time (or since then) and we are all supposed to have the right to free speech.

However, her comment was used to set of what Rolling Stone calls, "a concerted right-wing effort to kill their radio play and concert appearances, especially in the South." Incredibly, this effort had success. The hostility aimed at them escalated to include death threats. The intensity of the reaction was uncalled for and ludicrous.

The CD Cam gave me, Taking the Long Way, was their first release since the start of all the drama. It includes songs inspired by the saga including once called, "Not Ready to Make Nice."

The Chicks have always sung about individuality, rebellion and love with strong emotion. I am inspired by their defiant attitude and their refusal to submit to oppression.

So, in early June, the Dixie Chicks had a new cd and I had concert tickets. As an added bonus, another of my favorite musicians, Pete Yorn was scheduled to open the show.

Pete sings, "Convince yourself that everything is alright, 'Cous it already is."

I was excited. Then, as the show was finally on the horizon, it was canceled. I was given a chance to get my money back or save my tickets for a later show. I decided to keep the tickets. The show was rescheduled for November 17th with a new opening act. No Pete Yorn after all.

When I bought the tickets, I'd thought Cam and I would go together. But that meant finding a place for Sam to hang out. It turned out that Cam wasn't too excited about the show. So, I decided that since Sam has been listening and singing along with me to their music since Wide Open Spaces in 1999, I'd take him to the show.

Finally, last Friday night, it was time. Sam and I had good talks in the car during the drive over and shared laughs running through the parking lot to the Oakland Arena. Waiting for the show to start, we jammed to Green Day over the loud speaker and Sam saw his first wave.

Shortly after 8:00, Bob Schneider came on to open. He was talented and his music had off-beat, quirky lyrics. Once, he and his band mates played their guitars behind their backs. They stood aside for their drummer's solos which was cool. We sang along to a song called, Tarantula. It was a good show. I imagine if I knew his music better, I would have enjoyed it even more.

Then, about 9:30, the Chicks came out. Our seats were in row 25 on the floor which were supposed to be good but having 24 rows of adults stand up in front of us made it difficult for Sam to see. Thankfully, they had a large, mounted TV screen. We stood for the first few songs then I sat down to be at his level. (He hadn't wanted to stand on the seat and I don't know if they would have let him anyway). He sat down too and soon had his head on my lap. The next thing I knew, he was sound asleep.

While Natalie's singing was still powerful, and Martie & Emily played impressively, it was a fairly traditional concert. The awesome production I have seen at other Dixie Chicks shows and have come to expect from them was missing. These Chicks came across as a bit tentative and more reserved. They seemed to think we as an audience were less dynamic too.

Once, after Natalie introduced a song by saying they'd written it for their seven children, I thought the audience was listening appreciatively, in anticipation of the song but she interpreted our response differently. "Not a lot of parents in the crowd?" she asked.

It occurs to me that while the Chicks may have lost some fans for political reasons, they likely lost many more of us to bedtimes. Natalie was perceptive, noticing that many of us, who were, "Ready to Run" with them a few years ago, now had children sleeping in our laps. It doesn't mean we love the Chicks any less.

Their music has meant so much to me. They have shared my pain: "You always said, the day that you would leave me would be a cold day in July. Here comes that cold day in July." And cried with me: "If you could see me now. The one who said she'd rather be alone. If you could only see me now." "I've been too long in the wind, too long in the rain."

Helped me voice my anger:
"There is no good reason I should have to be alone. I'm smothered by this emptiness. Lord, I wish I was made of stone. Like a fool, I led my soul to love and it paid me back in change. God help me, am I the only one who's ever felt this way?" "If I fall, you're going down with me. Going down with me, if I fall." And overcome sadness with humor: "Tonight, the heartache's on me. On me. Let's drink a toast to the fool who couldn't see."

Respond with attitude: "Let it rip. Let it fly. Come on baby, say it. Do you think I'm going to cry? I ain't about to bawl and I ain't going to die. So if you're gonna say goodbye, don't take all damn night. Let it rip. Let it fly."

Start again: "He pushed me round, now I'm drawing a line. He lived his life now I'm gonna go live mine. I'm sick of wasting my time." "Well, now I've been good for way too long. Found my red dress, now I'm going to throw it on. 'Bout to get too far gone." "On a mission to make something happen. Feel like Delilah looking for Samson." "When its my turn to march up to Glory, I'm going to have one hell of a story."

Become stronger and wiser:
"Hole in my head. Hole in my head. I need a boy like you like a hole in my head. I need a boy like you like a HOLE in my head. Let's just say we will and then don't instead."

Made me feel understood:
"She needs wide open spaces, room to make the big mistakes. She needs new faces. She knows the high stakes. She knows the HIGH stakes."

Yet still hopeful and open to others: "More love. I can hear our hearts crying. More love. I know that's all we need. More love. Flowing between us. To take us and hold us and lift us above. If there's ever an answer. It's more love."

Not take it sitting down when we are treated badly:
"How in the world can the words that I said, send somebody so over the edge?" "I'm not ready to make nice. I'm not ready to back down. I'm still mad as hell and don't have time to go round and round and round. Its too late to make it right. Probably wouldn't if I could. 'Cause I'm mad as hell and can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should. Forgive, sounds good. Forget, I'm not sure I could. They say, time heals everything but I'm still waiting."

Given voice to the deep love we share for our children:

"My love will fly to you each night on angel's wings."

"God speed. Sweet dreams."

"Superman's in pajamas on the couch. Good-bye Moon will find the mouse. And I love you."

"How long do you want to be loved? Is forever enough? Is forever enough?"

A movie documenting their experiences since "the incident" was just released. I have yet to see Shut Up & Sing but was intrigued by the trailer. The letter they were wearing at the time was so scarlet that even the American Red Cross turned them away when they tried to give $1 million donation.

Natalie joked that the movie has been nominated to be nominated for an academy award. I hope to see it soon and will let you know my take when I do.

Thanks ladies, for being there for me. I'm happy to be there for you now.

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