No Toby, No Kobe; All Chicks, All the Time
I can’t prove it, but during my abortive career as a radio host I may have held a distinction all to myself. It so happened that my ever-so brief tenure coincided with the fallout from Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines’ comment to a London concert audience that she was ashamed that she and the president of the United States were from the same state. Consequently, I may have been the only DJ/talk show host in America during that span who played the Dixie Chicks on a regular basis.
Thank you, Clear Channel.
As you likely know, the media conglomerate which owns over 1,200 radio stations conspired with the Nashville music establishment and the US government to effectively silence the Chicks for daring to question ‘“President’” Bush’s war on Iraq. This was, as you recall, 2003, when sentiment for the war was still high and Bush’s approval ratings were above 70 percent. The CEO of Clear Channel was one of The Duh’s old Lone Star cronies and contributors, so with a straight face and a clear conscience he decreed that no Dixie Chicks music would heretofore be played on any of his stations. In a modern-day version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Chicks CD burnings were organized across this great land, proud patriots demanded their money back for concert tickets purchased before Natalie exercised her First Amendment rights, and Natalie and her fellow Chicks received death threats at several concert venues. It was a chilling time indeed for those of us who opposed the war.
Well, to paraphrase BB King, ‘“the chill is gone.’”
No, let me take that back. As long as the Bush-Cheney cabal is in power, the chill will remain; it’s just that there are a lot more of us these days who’re feeling the chill. The cold front produced by speaking out against an ill-conceived, unnecessary, immoral war is gone ‘— in that Bush’s disapproval ratings now stand at 70 percent ‘—but it has been supplanted by the icy feeling of knowing that we are all being spied upon by our own government, that our country is sponsoring torture chambers abroad, and that there is no end in sight for the carnage in the desert.
Now that I think about it, in many ways the chill is worse now than it was then. Abu Ghraib hadn’t happened, the NSA spy program hadn’t been uncovered, the Abramoff-Cunningham scandals hadn’t broke, CIA agent Valerie Plame had not had her cover blown by a member of the Bush administration, and the latest My Lai-esque war crimes hadn’t happened.
Which is exactly why the Chicks’ new single, ‘“Not Ready To Make Nice,’” is so poignant and perfectly timed. It would’ve been easy for them to have been contrite and begged forgiveness so that Nashville, Clear Channel and the GOP would’ve embraced them again and played and bought their records. (I heard one TV pundit talking about how they’d abandoned their base, as if the only fans they had belonged to the Righteous Right and that they cranked out three-minute ditties merely to appeal to the broadest possible demographic.) They could have put out some typical Nashville think-I’ll-get-drunk-’cause’–my-dog’–died shlock and the C&W diehards would’ve eaten it up. But instead, God bless ’em, they took the high road, sticking to their moral guns while telling the Bush crowd to stick it up Toby’s anal orifice.
With the Clear Channel ban still in effect, the single, last I heard, had made it only to No. 36 on the Billboard country charts. But the album has already climbed to No. 1 with a bullet, while the single is the internet’s most downloaded song, proving that certain tunes will still get heard despite lack of radio support.
It also proves that the sentiment expressed in the song is now reflective of the country at large. Now that the rationale for the war has been refuted and the duplicity by the administration in blaming it on bad intelligence has been revealed, the large majority of Americans now realize they were duped.
OK, the Chicks and I knew it all along, but now is not the time to say we told you so. I’m sure they must feel some sense of vindication, but I’d bet there is no sense of relief. After all, Bush is still in power and the war rages on and on and on, three full years after ‘“Mission Accomplished.’”
No, their mission ‘— and ours ‘— will only be accomplished when the last US soldier is out of Iraq and the last Bush is out of the White House.
Unfortunately for Natalie he’ll then be back in Texas, but that’s a tradeoff she and the rest of the world will take any day of the week.
Ogi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, heard each Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on ‘“The Dusty Dunn Show’” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on ‘“Triad Today’” Friday at 6:30 a.m. on ABC45 and Sunday at 10 p.m. on UPN48. His blog is backtothegarden-ogi.blogspot.com.