still mad as hell

We watched Shut Up and Sing (2006) a couple of nights ago. It’s the documentary about the Dixie Chicks, and their experiences following the “controversial” comment made by Natalie Maines.

Just in case you don’t know (or remember) the story, the incident in question was during a concert where the Dixie Chicks were preforming in London in 2003. At some point during the show, lead singer Natalie Maines made some comments about her objections to the impending war in Iraq, including a fairly offhand remark about the president:

Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas

Uproar ensued, fueled by right-wing activists, and involved the banning of Dixie Chicks’ music from radio stations, public denouncements and CD trashings, and even death threats. (Check out the Wikipedia article on the Dixie Chicks for details on the controversy. See also Alice from And She Wrote‘s recent post concerning free speech.)

Those were darker times, all too recently, when public expression of dissent was equated with treason. It was chilling to see how violently people reacted to a few fairly innocuous words. It was a time when many people, including me, were uncomfortable about speaking out in public about political issues, especially criticism of the president and objection to the war.

The band instantly earned my respect. I hadn’t known their music before, not being a fan of country music, and still wasn’t interested in hearing their songs. But soon after news of the comment and the backlash reached us, I remember going to a local record store and buying their CD, and a refrigerator magnet that said “he’s not my president.”

The movie “Shut Up and Sing” shows how these events affected the lives and careers of the three women of the band, and how they bravely stood up for free speech. I love it that their song “Not Ready to Make Nice,” from which the title of the movie is taken, expresses continued anger over the events:

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell…

They’re right to be angry. And we shouldn’t forget what happened. We shouldn’t allow freedom of expression to be trampled.

Anyhow, the movie paints an interesting picture of recent history. It’s well worth watching. Plus it has a really great trailer:

7 thoughts on “still mad as hell

  1. this is so wierd. I just saw “shut up and sing” tonight at a friend’s house and found the movie incredibly inspring. I’m a fan of bluegrass and traditional country but never thought much of new country- which is what the Dixie chicks were at one time. I told my friend tonight that I didn’t know much about the dixie chicks but really really really like them now. I want to own thier cds as well. I do like the way they sing and play and I also just think they are really cool now.
    weird that you posted this tonight. I’m supposed to be writing something for a Boston bluegrass Union newsletter- deadline is tomorrow and yes, I’ve procrastinated.

  2. Wow. I was talking to my girls as I drove them to school this morning about this whole incident because we were listening to the Dixie Chicks cd. I was telling them how great it was that the Dixie Chicks swept the Grammy’s like they did. I love country music for its sappy old love songs but I hate the conservative, love-it-or-leave-it mentality of the country music culture. I will definitely rent the documentary. Thanks for linking to my post!

  3. “Shut Up and Sing” – a must-see! Great musicians, inspiring women – their fire gives the rest of us no excuse for giving up in this crazy world. We all gotta do what little bit we can to make a difference.

    Their song, ‘Travelin’ Soldier,’ was just becoming a super-hit when they were banned from the airwaves. It’s a powerful song, check it out on their 2002 CD, ‘Home.’

    Thanks, ‘Collecting Tokens,’ for this post.

  4. Alice,
    I love sappy old love songs too. especially twangy ones- not a big fan of conservative love it or leave it mentality either. not all country music fans are like that you- you aren’t and neither am I and a bunch of bluegrass fans I know.

  5. Ok, that should read “you know” up there. Listening to “Taking the long way” as I write this. went out and bought it after work today. back to the writing I should be doing instead of blog and internet surfing.

  6. cass-
    Yeah, it’s great that they got those Grammys. It’s wonderful that they’ve gotten so much positive public recognition of late. (And thanks for stopping by!)

    Funny that you just watched the movie, too. That’s great. And cool that you bought the CD.

    I guess this must just be the time for talking about the Dixie Chicks! How great that you were discussing the issues with your daughters. I hope you all enjoy the documentary!

    Good points about the fire and inspiration. Thanks so much for your comments, and for stopping by.

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