Our April issue looked back on the rapid rise and even more rapid fall of one of the most popular country acts of all time. A decade ago, the Dixie Chicks were topping charts and selling out tours until their criticism of President Bush at a London concert boomeranged back on them. The band’s ability to inspire a passionate response, though, remains. Our cover story elicited more feedback than any we’ve published in the past year—more than Lance Armstrong and Rick Perry combined. There were the eternal critics (“Those liberal sisters deserve to crash and burn. Got what they deserved!!”), the wistful mourners of a lost decade (“Please come back, girls. Y’all are awesome!!!”), and those who simply wished to put the incident to rest once and for all.
And now, a sampling of feedback from our readers:
Thank you, John Spong, for your insightful article on the Dixie Chicks [“Chicks in the Wilderness”]. I am privileged to live in New Braunfels, where our local radio station isn’t “controlled” and enjoys the freedom to play the Court Yard Hounds and Natalie Maines. I consider it a travesty to have lost this amazing trio of musicians and lyricists to one of the seven deadly sins: pride. Nonetheless, right now I’m going to crank up “Taking the Long Way” and do a little dance while I vacuum the house.
Tina McCoy, New Braunfels
I’m having a hard time coming up with something less relevant than the Dixie Chicks. Natalie killed the Dixie Chicks with her mouth. Period. No one did anything to the Chicks—people just exercised their consumer right not to purchase CDs, downloads, or concert tickets. It’s a free country, and Natalie can say anything she wants. I just don’t have to pay to listen to it.
Ryan Campbell, College Station
John Spong’s engaging narrative of the Dixie Chicks’ winding road left me grateful for the solace and the smiles that their music has given me, and I’m just so sad about the way things turned out, especially for the fans. As a multi-generation Texan, some of my happiest memories are of the strong, sassy, tough, good, and plainspoken women in my family who are long gone. Direct and feisty women are a part of our Texas culture, and we are cheated by our loss of this talented trio. Some things, like free speech, are more important than cowering to the powerful, whether in Nashville or anyplace else. The way that their story played out, at least so far, is just wrong. I treasure their music, and I just miss them so much.
Kate Wilson, San Antonio
The only thing that matches my irritation over how the Chicks handled the entire situation is my sadness at the loss of such amazing talents in country music. That said, they alone are responsible for losing my support. No one has to agree with my politics, but if an actor or musician wants to maintain my support as a fan, they surely can’t speak as though any of us who don’t see it their way are idiots. carol freund, san antonio I was born and raised in Lubbock. Just so you know, I am ashamed that Natalie Maines is from Lubbock!
Gaylon Blair, Frisco
Who killed the Dixie Chicks? No one. It was clearly suicide. Jackie Seward, cleburne I loved the Dixie Chicks article. I’m a fan and always have been. I hadn’t listened to their music in a while, and I forgot how good it is. It’s tragic that in 2003 Americans forgot that the First Amendment guarantees the right of everyone to speak. Whether you love it, hate it, or just don’t care, we all have the right to say what we want. And it’s sad that ten years later, seven hundred credible death threats have left Natalie, who was the life of the group, angry and bitter. I’ve been listening to their albums today, and I must admit, “Not Ready to Make Nice” is truly my favorite song. Now I’m just listening with a different ear.
Tasha Coney, Houston
John Spong did a great job of framing the question posed on the cover (“Who Killed the Dixie Chicks?”) but failed to answer it. Maybe that’s because it was the wrong question; perhaps it should have been, What Killed the Dixie Chicks? Ironically, a culture that told the Chicks to “shut up and sing” never considered shutting up and listening. What makes a fan, a fellow artist, or a recording industry think its opinion is superior to another’s? An artist creates art as an expression of themselves and how they see the world, and therein lies the beauty the rest of the world is privileged to experience. When folks start telling artists how and what to create, the world becomes an uglier place.
Tom Mulnix, Dallas
Without particularly endorsing Joshua Treviño’s opinions on Texans and firearms [“Founding Firearms”], I have to admit that any attempt to restrict the sale of guns, even fifty-shot automatic rifles, is doomed to failure. It seems that any effort to restrict a type of weapon results in shouts of “They’re coming to take our guns away!” and promotes more sales of whatever is targeted. Even in the highly unlikely event that any such measure should pass, it would probably be about as successful as current laws meant to stamp out illegal drugs. Even now, stolen guns have become a hot item on the black market. So if the cowboy driving the pickup with the rifle rack on page 51 doesn’t scrape off his “Come and Take It” sticker, somebody else probably will.
Steven Botts,San Antonio
I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I can remember my grandfather grabbing his shotgun when an unrecognized car drove up on his farm. Some of my fondest memories are of hunting with my father and brother. I am also a physician who has helped care for the after-midnight gun club that exists in San Antonio and every major city. We patch them up, almost always at taxpayer expense, and send them back out on the street only to see them again months or years later. I don’t mind the small inconvenience of a background check if it keeps even one gun out of the hands of a criminal and saves my tax dollars. I also support universal background checks, limits on magazine size, and limits on ownership of military-style weapons. None of these things will in any way limit my ability to defend myself or to hunt. I don’t understand how efforts to limit illegal killings “are an insult to the foundational premise of our nation.” As my grandfather would say, this just sounds like bullshit to me.
Robert Luedecke, Helotes
I was delighted to read the article on the gals at Wayland Baptist [“Hoop Queens”]. It was fascinating, and I couldn’t put it down. I have season tickets for the UT Lady Horns basketball games and have for the past 34 years or so. I was at the game mentioned in the article when the Lady Horns beat the Queens, but their accomplishment is still fantastic, and I applaud each and every woman on both teams. Coach Redin must have been one of a kind to have held them in check and taken them so far. And I applaud him and his program of success!
Mary Lynne Rogers-Reebel, via email
Most Texans are tough enough to take the barbs of the residents of our 49 sister states without having to go into self-analysis [“Who’s Afraid of Texas?”]. Not so the editors of texas monthly, apparently. Perhaps you should change your name to Wussy Monthly.
Preston Lewis, San Angelo
Rebuke of Earle
I feel about Steve Earle much the same way Steve Earle feels about Texas: love long ago faded into bored indifference [“Hometown Blues”]. Any Texan who needs to move to Manhattan to find purpose and inspiration is creatively bankrupt and morally indefensible. And I do not recognize the Texas he describes. Southwest Houston, my home, is more ethnically diverse, more socially progressive, and more gloriously, unself-consciously weird than any place LBJ, Townes Van Zandt, or Mr. Earle’s Bleecker Street buddies could imagine. Plus, you can’t find a decent plate of fufu in New York, to say nothing of acceptable barbecue.
Cort McMurray, Houston