Lettin' It Rip

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About Me

Lettin' It Rip is a two hour special produced by MJI Broadcasting. The show featured interviews and 19 songs from Wide Open Spaces and FLY. Some similar soundbites to the Country Giants radio show.

Host: Katie Haas
Airdate: June 30 - July 4, 2000

(Some host comments not effecting the show have been edited out)

Opens with fan montage.

KATIE HAAS: They're the hottest act in country music. They've sold millions of albums. They have armfuls of awards and they're doing what may be this summer's biggest tour. They're the Dixie Chicks, breaking all the rules and letting it rip.
Matalie Maines, Martie Seidel, Emily Robison. They're the Dixie Chicks and this summer they're letting it rip on the road and on the charts. Hi, I'm Katie Haas. I'm going to introduce you to the Chicks. Three young women who are changing the face of country music for the new millennium. In their own words, they'll take you back to the Texas street corners where they got their start. through making the albums Wide Open Spaces and FLY and on the road to the recent kickoff of their first headlining tour.

1. I Can Love You Better

KATIE HAAS: I Can Love You Better reached the charts late in 1997 but like so many overnight successes the Chicks story begins much earlier.

EMILY: We started 10 years earlier and we were playing on the street corners. We were bluegrass at first and then we moved into a cowgirl sound and the clothing came next. I just think we were trying to figure out who we were. I was 16 and Martie was 19 so I don't think we knew who we were much less what our musical goals were at that point. We were still learning our instruments. We were still just growing.

KATIE HAAS: In 1989, sisters Martie Seidel and Emily Robison formed an all girl band that played western swing in the Dallas area. That act evolved into a trio that gained fame by taking it to the streets. Literally.

MARTIE: We started out really humbly. We didn't expect big things from what we were doing at the time because we were a street corner band. We got a permit from the city and went down and just played for our own enjoyment and then when we found out we could make a lot of money doing it we thought 'Well why do I need to wait tables. Let's just play on the street corner.'

2. There's Your Trouble

KATIE HAAS: While playing under the Texas stars in the early 90's Martie and Emily had yet to meet Natalie Maines. She joined them as lead singer in 1995 and the Dixie Chicks as we know them today were hatched but not before leaving their cowgirl friends behind and changing their name.

EMILY: We were Dixie Chickens first cause of the Little Feat song.

NATALIE: Tell 'em what you wanted to be.

EMILY: We thought about Puss In Boots. We thought about the Squatter's Daughters. (Martie laughing in background)

NATALIE: They didn't really have a name. People were asking what their name was and they didn't have one so one day, driving down the street corner, the Little Feat song came on the radio and they decided to be the Dixie Chickens and then people thought they were an item on the menu at the reastaurant so it got shortened to Chicks.

MARTIE: I don't think we ever dreamed we'd find someone like Natalie. I mean it was all a growing process, ya know, and I think Natalie's always known that this was going to turn into something or that she was gonna be doing something like this but Emily and I are kinda more one day at a timers. We don't think as big so it was kinda like when Natalie came along we kinda jumped on her coattail.

KATIE HAAS: Though they didn't get together until 1995, all three women had been making music almost their whole lives. Martie picked up a fiddle at the age of 5 and soon became a championship player. At the age of 10, younger sister Emily learned to play the banjo followed by the dobro guitar.

EMILY: We played bluegrass growing up cause it embraced younger kids pickin so much and it was such a great learning ground basically, but we grew up on old country as well.

3. Wide Open Spaces

KATIE HAAS: While Emily and Martie were making music in Dallas in the early 90's Natalie Maines was virtually a world away, living 400 miles to the west in the Texas panhandle near Lubbock. She started singing at the age of 3, tackled ppiano when she was 12 and won a scholarship to Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music.

NATALIE: I had to audition to get a scholarship. I thought that you had to audition to get into school and that's why when I got there I was a little disappointed. Wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be. But for my audition tape to get a scholarship, I did a James Taylor tune, an Indigo Girls tune, and a Maria Mckee tune.

KATIE HAAS: While Natalie was off studying in New England, her father, steel guitar player Lloyd Maines, worked on a couple of recording projects with Martie and Emily. He gave them a tape of Natalie singing. When the sisters found themselves in the market for a new singer they called her.
School wasn't turning out to be what Natalie had expected so she took the job but it would be almost three years before the Chicks burst onto the national scene.

EMILY: I think we sought out Natalie because we knew we wanted to get to that next level and we knew we wanted to play something that was a product of a lot of years of practicing and at the time we didn't feel like we had the strength of the lead singer we needed.

NATALIE: I thought it was cause I was blonde.

EMILY: Yeah, that too.

MARTIE: I think first you have to relate to one another and be friends and have a connection further than just being 3 people who are, ya know, forced together. I think the fact that we all three are each others best friends and sisters makes it kind of click for us.

NATALIE: I think another thing too is we all realize our place. I'm not trying to play the fiddle and they're not wanting to hog the spotlight, like I do. (laughter from all 3 Chicks)

EMILY: Like she does.

NATALIE: But I really think that's what works. I think when egos clash and collide is when bands don't work out so I think that all of us being able to knock each other down is good.

4. Am I The Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way)

KATIE HAAS: With their lineup in place, the trio aimed themselves at the big time. After paying some more dues, they landed a record deal following a label showcase in Austin. Once the papers were signed, they began work on an album that would surpass everyone's expectations, going on to sell more than 9 million copies, more than any other country group in history.

NATALIE: I want them to think that they really got their money's worth and the whole album is good. I mean we talk about this all the time. That's what I want people to think about our album. That the whole thing's great.

EMILY: I always think about the albums they used to put out in the 70's. They're almost like, the word album, meaning almost like a photograph, it's a story. It's almost like the whole album tells a story and you get a big picture at the end of the album. They're more like, ya know, photographs and pictures in my mind than they are just songs put on an album and I really wanted to do that.

KATIE HAAS: To make the album, the trio turned to their favorite songwriters and musical influences, recording tunes by Bonnie Raitt and Maria McKee and fans quickly latched onto their unique sound which included hints of Dolly Parton, Bob Wills, even James Taylor.

MARTIE: We hope that country becomes like rock n' roll in that there, and it's becoming that way, there's so many different kinds if you think about rock music that's the way it is. There's classic rock and there's alternative rock and so I think it's okay that there's so many different kinds of country. I hope that continues. It's not just one formula. One thing.

EMILY: We're the bastard children of it all. We don't like to label ourselves.

NATALIE: The show goes from blues to bluegrass to Texas rock to straight ahead old time country.

5. You Were Mine
6. Give It Up Or Let Me Go

KATIE HAAS: In January of 1998, with their first hit I Can Love You Better on it's way to the top five, the Chicks released Wide Open spaces. Within months it was apparent that a phenomenon was in the making and that became obvious when the CMA awards rolled around. The trio became the first band since Sawyer Brown to win the Horizon Award and wrestled the Vocal Group of the Year trophy away from 4 time winners Diamond Rio.

DIAMOND RIO MEMBER: We have a long history with the Dixie Chick. First time I ever remember hearing of them or seeing them is in Austin years ago. I know Dan went down and saw them in a club, came back talking about them. That's where I first heard of them and they were there for quite some time. You know, I think that award shows sometimes portray the wrong attitude, like we're competing against one another when in reality we're music fans first and love what they do.

MARTIE: Sometimes I feel a little uncomfortable winning so many things or achieving so many things so fast. Not because I don't think we can handle it but sometimes I worry about the perception of just rising so fast that either us, we personally would have a hard time with it or that, I don't know, we haven't had enough time to earn it.

7. Tonight The Heartache's On Me
8. Once You've Loved Somebody

KATIE HAAS: The CMAs were just the beginning. A few months later the Chicks walked into the Grammy awards with 3 nominations including one in the overall bestnew artist category. They took home 2 trophies. Best performance by a duo or group and Best country album as Wide Open Spaces beat the odds on favorite Shania Twain's Come on Over.

NATALIE: To get the nomination we were totally thrilled. We thought we'd be sitting on our butts all night but we were just happy that the album was recognized and the nominations and then we won. That was the best feeling because total surprise and

MARTIE: Shock

NATALIE: I can still feel it now. I can feel what that felt like. You dream that that's what it feels like when you win an award.

9. Let 'Er Rip

KATIE HAAS: The Chicks caught everyones attention including George Strait's. He tapped the trio for his second country music festival tour and when it was over, Tim McGraw asked them to open for him through summer months.

NATALIE: We learned men don't know how to do catering and women do. There's a lot of different things. The goal last year was to be seen in front of the most diverse audience that we could so with George Strait it was just...

EMILY: Sheer masses.

NATALIE: Thousands of country music fans.

MARTIE: Yeah, and so we were treated so great on those tours it made us wanna turn around and have just as great of a show and treat everybody. Get those people that make it happen, have good relationships and, ya know, because they were so sweet to us.

KATIE HAAS: They started the summer with Tim but half way through they left him for Sarah McLachlan as they became one of the leading acts on her Lilith Fair tour.

NATALIE: We're glad that other genres of music are represented too as far as Monica being there and more than country music. We definitely want to represent country but more than that it is the instuments that they play. We felt like that was lacking in Lilith Fair. A lot of people play guitar and of course Sheryl plays accordian and bass and those things but banjo, dobro and fiddle. They hadn't had girls up there playing those instruments and that's what we wanted to show everybody is that girls play those instruments too.

KATIE HAAS: At Lilith Fair they met Sheryl Crow. That turned out to be another stroke of good fortune since the rocker asked the Chicks to join in her free concert in New York's Central Park that fall, putting the Chicks on the same stage as Eric Clapton and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

EMILY: Being on stage with Sheryl Crow at Central Park I think was one of those things you never expected to happen. I think when you're in country music you don't expect to necessarily go outside the boundaries of country music so it's a huge honor for us to first of all to be on that show but also I look over at Martie and she's sitting between Keith Richards and Eric Clapton and I'm like 'we have arrived'.

NATALIE: You never pictured that?

EMILY: I never pictured that in a million years.

NATALIE: I dreamed that all the time.

KATIE HAAS: In the summer of 1999 with Wide Open Spaces well on its way to becoming a record breaker, the Chicks began to work on a follow-up. Then they got a call to lend their music to a movie, one that reunited Pretty Woman co-stars Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. 'Ready To Run' became the theme song to Runaway Bride.

10. Ready To Run

KATIE HAAS: Martie Seidel wrote that one with Nashville tunesmith Marcus Hummon. It was one of two songs the Dixie Chicks recorded for the Runaway Bride soundtrack.

NATALIE: I didn't think I would feel anything hearing the songs in the movie and I was surprised. When the song came on it seemed like the loudest song in the movie to me. But then when I saw the credits and I saw Martie's name I got choked up. I was like 'Oh my God' cause that's just not something you think you're gonna see is your name in movie credits and I was so proud of her.

KATIE HAAS: As the awards, accolades, number 1 hits and platinum albums rolled in, the trio sought a unique way to mark these accomplishments. And they found one at a tattoo parlor.

MARTIE: Natalie already had a tattoo and so she's a veteran of tattoos. And we were trying to make some kind of pact between us to kind of bring us together and she's the one that came up with that. And I was against it at first and then I thought 'Ahh, just a little tiny thing won't matter' then six months later we've raked up 3. So we decided it's per song, it's not per country that song goes number 1.

KATIE HAAS: The Chicks began a tradition of getting tiny chicken feet tattoos on their feet and ankles, one for each number 1 hit and each gold or platinum album certification.

NATALIE: Some people come with ten around their ankle and they'd show us theirs and then they'd go 'Let me see yours' and we'd show them and they'd go 'Oh thats different'. We felt so guilty.

11. Can't Hurry Love
12. Heartbreak Town

KATIE HAAS: Last August, the Dixie Chicks released FLY. The highly anticipated follow up to their multi-platinum debut Wide Open Spaces.

EMILY: I don't think you can go into it thinking 'okay let's get a bunch of songs that have something to do with my life or have something to do with your life.' It's just, you go in and you pick songs that you love and that strike a chord with you and as a by product of that you get songs that are kinda mirroring what you're going through.

KATIE HAAS: The three admit they felt some pressure to make FLY measure up to the success of their first release. They spent the first part of 1999 in the studio and as the recording sessions progressed, their confidence in themselves grew. When all was said and done the Chicks ended up writing five of the albums twelve songs compared to one tune penned by Martie and Emily on Wide Open Spaces.

EMILY: We didn't want to approach this next album and redo a Wide Open Spaces. It was real important for us to grow and to move on and do things that we were excited about, you know, in the present. I think there's a lot more picking on it because we did write five of the songs on there. I think it's a lot more of us coming out. Things that we write about pertain to us. I would just say it's an extension of who we are.

KATIE HAAS: That confidence spilled over to songs the girls didn't write, most notably a song that created a buzz even before it was released as a single. Goodbye Earl.

NATALIE: God. We're really blown away that it's causing so much controversy. Everyone thought mattress dancing was gonna be the bad thing and I'm a little bit glad that murder is more appalling than sex. It's a funny song about a serious subject and that's the only way we would do something like that.

13. Goodbye Earl

KATIE HAAS: Though it raised eyebrows with the murder of an abusive husband and talk of mattress dancing, FLY made history right off the bat selling nearly 350,000 copies in it's first week of release, enough to make it the number one album in America. FLY outsold the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears making the Chicks the first country group or duo to do so. Only Garth Brooks had seen better first week numbers.

NATALIE: I don't think we really set any expectations. I think we definitely hoped that we would have this kind of start. I never gave any thought to it really. I thought we made a good record and we tried to do everything we could to let people know that it was out there. My biggest worry was that people wouldn't know that we had another record.

14. Sin Wagon

KATIE HAAS: Murder, mattress dancing, tattoos, a David Letterman appearance five years to the day after he threatened to call police when they tried to give a concert in the lobby of his theater. The Dixie Chicks have cornered the market on sassy attitude in country music and they like the fact that that sets them apart.

MARTIE: I guess as consequence, I mean, we are daring. People see us as daring and outspoken and that's fine. I mean, I think that's how we are in our personal lives too.

KATIE HAAS: With FLY sitting at the top of the charts, the Chicks reached last year's CMA awards with four nominations. Only Tim McGraw and Vince Gill had more and the Chicks made history once again as they were nominated for the Entertainer Of The Year award. In fact, Reba McEntire agreed to present the nights top award only after realizing with the Chicks in the category there were four women in the running as compared to three men.

REBA MCENTIRE: When they asked me to do the Entertainer Of The Year award presentation I said yes and then I looked at the nominees and it was four women and three men. The Dixie Chicks, 3 girls, and Shania and I said 'Oh man, this is the first time in CMA history'. First time in country music history that this many women had been up for Entertainer Of The Year. I said 'Oh man, I'm pulling for the girls. I'm pulling for the girls'.

KATIE HAAS: While Reba ended up handing the trophy to Shania Twain, the Chicks won their other three categories turning the night into a real ladies night. The Chicks continued their winning ways at this years Grammys where they again took home statues in the two categories they had won the year before, album and country group of the year.

NATALIE: You just start feeling like you're losing yourself. When we won the CMAs, we had a gig in like LA the next day.

EMILY: Oklahoma. It was Oklahoma. We didn't even get to stay up late and party.

NATALIE: So we stacked our awards in a box. They all got cracked and chipped and we were off to the next gig and you just feel like you can't breathe and so we were like why are we doing this if we're not enjoying it. When you start regretting 'oh you have to call all these people or' it shouldn't be like that. When it starts not being fun it's just not worth it.

KATIE HAAS: Multi-platinum albums, awards, spots on some of the year's biggest tours. A year after arriving on the national music scene, the Dixie Chicks had it all. But already their story was running the risk of turning into a VH1 Behind The Music special. While Emily found happiness with singer/songwriter Charlie Robison, Natalie Maines watched her marriage of less than two years unravel and found herself a favorite target of tabloids.

MARTIE: They're always about Natalie. So we've been trying to make up rumors about ourselves and actually we did a little test to see. We made up something about Natalie being pregnant by Derryl Dodd.

NATALIE: Shhh! Don't tell them which one it is. It doesn't upset us. We know that we can prove them wrong. Like it was written that we were breaking up. Well that's an easy rumor to banish because here we are getting along better than ever. So it doesn't worry us. It just makes me mad cause you think that people don't believe that stuff anymore. I just wonder who believes that kind of stuff. So we decided to make up our own rumors and we're gonna continue to do so. We won't tell you which ones we made up. You never know which ones are out there that we've started so don't believe any of them.

EMILY: My mom called me the other day and she said 'Emily, is it true that you're opening a restaurant in Branson, Missouri' and I said 'Mom haven't you learned by now. What would possess us to open a restaurant.'

NATALIE: And why wouldn't you know about it.

EMILY: Why wouldn't you know about it. Stop believing what you read.

NATALIE: You get very protected. We're still learning. I think we'll be learning forever.

15. Cowboy Take Me Away
16. If I Fall You're Going Down With Me

NATALIE: Just to get it straight, I'm very happy and there was never, maybe there were some tears shed just cause it's so hard to tell other people because you feel like you failed. But as far as where I am, I did that because I had to get happy in my life. It's hard when everything's so wonderful and everything's going so great yet you still don't feel good. So it was a good decision and I'm very happy I made it.

KATIE HAAS: By the end of last year, Natalie was ready for romance and found it with actor Adrian Pasdar. But success continued to take its toll on the Chicks as Martie realized her love of music was pulling her away from her husband and stepson.

17. Hello Mr. Heartache

KATIE HAAS: Like many folks before them, the Dixie Chicks found that fame isn't necessarily all they dreamed it would be. But they also say it's given them some amazing opportunities, including the chance to headline their own major tour.

EMILY: There's an energy there with live music that isn't there on a recording because people don't wanna come to, pay X amount of dollars, come sit in their seat and get the album played back to them. We'll have different arrangements, we'll have things that we add and take away and move things around so it is a different experience than the album.

KATIE HAAS: On June 1st, the Chicks kicked off their first headlining tour in Winnipeg, Canada

COMMENTS FROM FANS: The Dixie Chicks Rock and that kind of stuff.

KATIE HAAS: Fans were pumped to say the least when the sexy trio emerged from the fly of a huge pair of jeans, kicking off an energetic two hour set in front of a sold out crowd of 13,000.

NATALIE: It is the best part and we put a lot of work into it and we hope, and you know, we're kind of controlling so it's nice to pick the opener and to pick exactly what the stage looks like.

KATIE HAAS: The Chicks tour will visit 70 cities before it ends in late October. Along the way the trio will introduce fans to some of their favorite music. They've tapped rocker Patti Griffin, bluegrass great Ricky Skaggs and even Willie Nelson as opening acts.

EMILY: It is a great opportunity to get to introduce some people, other people as openers to our audience. We have such a broad demographic that, you know a lot of young people, so hopefully we'll inspire them to listen to other things besides just on the radio.

18. Cold Day In July

KATIE HAAS: As the Chicks continue to fly to new heights, some of country music's biggest names are singing their praises including one that Natalie, Martie and Emily count as one of their biggest influences.

DOLLY PARTON: I see the Dixie Chicks as these great talented young people. I see myself as an old Southern hen that has hopefully done some things right. But I'm always so honored and so flattered and I'm surprised that some of the people that say I have been an influence.

KATIE HAAS: You can't do much better than receive praise from Hall of Famer Dolly Parton. Who knows. Maybe she'll get her wish and join the Chicks on their next tour. THAT would be something. It's hard to believe the Chicks arrived on the scene just three years ago. I can only begin to imagine what the future holds for them.

NATALIE: I just don't think anything will ever be totally different just because of the elements that make up the Dixie Chicks. You know, we could play some heavy metal song and we can put banjo and dobro and three part harmony on it and it sounds like our song.

EMILY: I'm thinking with this new Latin explosion we should just start doing all salsa music.

NATALIE: We're gonna do a banjo fiddle rap record.

19. Let 'Er Rip

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