Thursday, July 16, 2009

IASPM: “Dare to Be Free”: The Dixie Chicks’ Existential Conversion

By Jim LeBlanc


Jim LeBlanc gave an excellent presentation today about the events that took place with respect to the Dixie Chicks and the statement by Maines in 2003 at a concert about George Bush that she was 'ashamed that the President of the United States was from Texas'. Jim's presentation focused on the 2006 single Not Ready to Make Nice which he played at the end of the talk.


Jim gave the background to the event and details regarding the hostile response from conservative fans of the band (I have written about this earlier here).


He then went on to discuss the musical aspects of the song including the different instruments that are used, dynamics, repetition, the use of overdubbed cathartic whaling, and the conclusion of the track which consists of a gradual silencing of one instrument at a time.


Despite not being mentioned by Jim, discussion from members of the audience included questions about the openness of the lyrics and the way that they might be interpreted in another way should they heard by someone who did not know the background and the inherent difficulties in attributing a political label to the song without the context. Jim referred to specific parts of the lyrics in which reference is made to death threats received by Maines and how she was told to 'Shut Up and Sing'. Jim suggested that there were not many other contexts in which these lyrics could be relevant but conceded that without additional context there may, nonetheless, be alternative interpretations.


With respect to the philosophical basis of this paper Jim suggested that the existential conversion was apparent when considering the response of the Dixie Chicks and their determination to take what others were making of them (which they had little control over) and to make something for themselves out of it. Indeed one member of the band apparently stated that: "Now that we have fucked ourselves anyway, I think we have a responsibility to continue to fuck ourselves." They did this by refusing to apologise, standing up to those that sought to silence them, engaging in a public debate about the events and at later concerts, using a multimedia presentation about other political issues such as abortion, with the subtitles of truth and freedom. The band took advantage of the public outcry and used it to re-characterise themselves.



Further Reading


OpenContentAustraliaResearchReview, Shut Up and Sing (10 April 2008) <> at 15 July 2009


Wikipedia, Not Ready to Make Nice (12 June 2009)

<> at 15 July 2009

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