Stars Of Country - The Dixie Chicks Story (1/21/01)

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Stars of Country is a one hour show produced by Westwood One Radio Network featuring a different artist each week. This episode featured interviews with the Chicks and all the released singles up to and including "Without You".

Host: Charlie Cook
Airdate: January 20-21, 2001

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

CHARLIE COOK: We're spending an hour with CMA Entertainers Of The Year the Dixie Chicks. The band's Natalie Maines says they plan to leave a permanant mark on country music.

NATALIE: I think we do feel the respnsibility of setting new standards for how the business goes.

CHARLIE COOK: The Dixie Chicks began in Dallas, TX in 1989 as a tribute to Dale Evans. Back then it consisted of fiddle player Martie Seidel and her sister Emily Erwin on banjo and dobro along with two other Texans, Robin Macy and singer Laura Lynch. The band spent years building a local following but as its popularity grew the members couldn't agree on which direction to take their music. Martie and Emily leaned towards a more mainstream sound while Robin and Laura wanted to keep it traditional. They eventually left the group leaving Martie and Emily without a singer.
The legendary steel guitarist Lloyd maines recommended his daughter Natalie as a replacement and the current lineup was in place. They released their Wide Open Spaces CD at the beginning of 1997 and quickly made the charts with the song I Can Love You Better. Along the way, they came across the usual record company execs who tried to force them into the same mold as a lot of other country acts but Martie says they never backed down.

MARTIE: They sent us to media school and they kept saying, calling us into the office, 'YOU can't say that and YOU can't say this and you can't say that' and I think it's one of those kind of knee jerk reactions of 'yeah, I can' and we would still be a band even if we hadn't gotten signed. So I think now that we do have so much more control we're a little calmer and not so ready to fight everything because we were tried, I think a lot of people tried to control us in the beginning.

1. I Can Love You Better

CHARLIE COOK: This past year the Chicks headlined their first concert tour and it became one of the biggest grossing country tours of 2000. In fact, it was second only to Tim McGraw's and Faith Hill's Soul To Soul tour. The Chicks joked at a press conference about demanding a recount, but Natalie Maines was pretty happy with the way it turned out.

NATALIE: I think the tour unfolded just the way we wanted it to. And it, we were involved in every step from set design to the people that were hired, to the lighting, to everything. So I think if it was any different than what we'd expect we'd be putting our foot down so no it was exactly what we expected as far as how the show runs and what it looks like.
But the audience reaction and the turnout is what you never know about whenever you're spending all this money. You hope they're gonna come but you're not really sure if you're gonna make your money back. So that's always a nice surprise.

2. There's Your Trouble

CHARLIE COOK: The title track from Wide Open Spaces was still a high point of their FLY tour this past year but it's taking on a completely new meaning for Natalie Maines.

NATALIE: When we were singing it last year on the tour it was the here and now. It was us just still not far from the RV and all the days that we were driving ourselves around and lugging our own gear and doing all those things. Now in my mind, it's sort of a song that marks that time. I don't know that it feels as close to my heart as it did when we were performing it then. Sort of feels like everytime I hear that song I can, like do you have a song that you can, like there's a song that you hear that you listened to in junior high and not only do you remember something about junior high but you can actually feel that feeling how you felt when you heard that song or at that moment and that's what that song has become for me.

3. Wide Open Spaces

CHARLIE COOK: The Chicks got their name from a song called 'Dixie Chicken' by the band Little Feat. They decided to shorten the names to Chicks when they were playing in a restaurant and worried people would think they were something on the menu.
The Dixie Chicks take a hands on approach to everything they do and that includes their charity work. That's why they chose focusing on just one charity instead of several. Martie, Emily and Natalie picked the World Wildlife Foundation.

MARTIE: They seem to be the one where most of the money actually goes to projects to help animals. And they're willing to let us be involved in more than just giving them money which is kind of neat for us. Hopefully on our time off we'll get to go take some trips and be more hands on.

NATALIE: I think we saw there's something that our, the dynamic of our audience is passionate about. Young kids today are really interested in the environment and the earth and that sort of thing so I think I felt it was something that they could get involved in and interested in as well. And we always want to put our efforts towards one thing a year instead of spreading ourselves too thin. So I think every tour we'll pick something different but we wanted to help them out as much as we could this year.

4. You Were Mine

CHARLIE COOK: The Chicks were the only country act to make Entertainment Weekly's power list for 2000. Emily Robison wonders just who they have the power over since they can't even boss around their dog. The girls did have enough clout to get a meeting with President Clinton last year and Natalie Maines will remember that day for a long time.

NATALIE: It was his birthday. He was opening up all of his presents and Chelsea was there with her friends and he was just like a proud dad showing off in front of her friends. And he's so intelligent and so is she. Every single subject, it doesn't matter what you'd talk about or he'd open a gift and he'd have a story behind it, why he collects this, why someone gave him this and just had something intelligent to say about everything. I really got a sense that he was a true public servant and he wants to continue his public service duties after the presidency.

5. Tonight The Heartache's On Me

CHARLIE COOK: There are no more heartache's in the Dixie Chicks camp. Emily married her husband Charlie two years ago. Natalie married her boyfriend Adrian this past year and they're expecting their first child in a few months. And Martie's also sporting a new beau.
They reached another milestone this past year when their Wide Open Spaces CD topped the 10 million mark in sales. They followed that up in late '99 with their second CD FLY. Martie co-wrote the first hit from that CD a song with an Irish flavor called Ready To Run. It probably had a little something to do with the new man in her life who just happens to be a native of Ireland.

MARTIE: Natalie's sister is married to an Irishman and I'm dating an Irishman and people really from Ireland don't think it's very Irish. But I guess over here if you add a tin whistle or a concertina or whatever, you automatically have an Irish flair. It's our attempt.

6. Ready To Run

CHARLIE COOK: The Chicks proved this past year that you don't necessarily need a big budget to put on a big tour. Their FLY tour was one of the top grossing shows of 2000 without all the bells and whistles. And Natalie says it was just one way the Chicks plan to lead the way for other new artists.

NATALIE: People are always comparing 'Well everyone else does it this way. Well N'SYNC has twice the amount of crew you have' and it's like well do they have twice the amount of crew we have because someone told them that's how many crew everybody has.

MARTIE (background): We'd have people sitting around.

NATALIE: We're not into doing things the way everybody else does it. We're not into blowing money away because that's what everyone else does. Not that N'SYNC blows money away. I'm just saying we don't do something because that's how it's done. We'll find a new way to do it and hopefully down the road instead of somebody trying to get us to spend twice as much money cause everybody else does it maybe somebody will go 'you know the Dixie Chicks did that for half the cost'. And then maybe someone else won't have to pay so much. I think we do feel the responsibilty of setting new standards for how the business goes.

7. Cowboy Take Me Away

CHARLIE COOK: One of the signs you've really made it is when your name turns up on a popular TV show. Well, that's happened several times to the Dixie Chicks. When Jenny McCarthy appeared on the sitcom Just Shoot Me, David Spade's character Finch mistook her for one of the Chicks. The same thing happened on the NBC series DAG when Delta Burke's character, First Lady Judith Whitman and her daughter Camilla Whitman, were incognito wearing blonde wigs. A question on ABC's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was 'Which one of these ladies isn't in the Dixie Chicks?' The four multiple choice answers included the three members of the Chicks, of course, along with Trisha Yearwood. Those 3 ladies featured in a recent NBC special weren't just look-a-likes. They were the real thing and Martie says it took them quite a while to agree to do it.

MARTIE: We didn't want to do what had been done before and actually we had turned down the offer to do a special because it seems like everybody that gets to this level ends up doing a special to kind of end it all. So once we talked to Joel Gallen though and saw his reel we were really inspired cause he's done some funny stuff and some creative stuff. So the first thing was to get the music out there and not have some remote exotic location to draw people in or any other thing but the music. So it's mainly music but we did decide to do some skits because it's just so much fun to poke fun at ourselves.

CHARLIE COOK: Millions of TV viewers across the country agree. The Chicks had one of the highest ratings for a TV special last year beating out folks like Britney Spears, N'Sync, and even Sir Elton John.

8. Cold Day In July

CHARLIE COOK: The Chicks ruffled some feathers last spring when they released a song from their FLY CD called Goodbye Earl. It was a dark humored song that dealt with the very serious subject of domestic violence. Some people thought it was in poor taste but Natalie saw it as a way of bringing it out of the darkness.

NATALIE: I feel very proud to see the little kids out there singing it and almost every kid that comes to Meet and Greet, their favorite song is Earl and I just think hopefully it will empower them to not get in a situation like that when they get older. If they might remember that song and not, I don't think anyone's gonna go out and kill somebody cause the song says so. I think maybe they'll think I don't have to live through this.

9. Goodbye Earl

CHARLIE COOK: In spite of all the hoopla, the Dixie Chicks scored a hit with that song last year. Another song from their FLY CD stirred up some controversy mainly with their record company who protested against releasing it. Sin Wagon is a song about a girl who's tired of being good and decides to do a little mattress dancing. To add insult to injury, they're also being sued over that song. The writer of the old gospel tune 'I'll Fly Away' is taking them to court over the use of that line in the song.
The Dixie Chicks ended 2000 on kind of a sad note. The video for their recent hit, Without You, featured a women who was 9 months pregnant. Unfortunately, the woman lost her baby shortly after making the video. Natalie Maines says they were ready to scrap the entire clip but they wound up ending it with a dedication to Jackson Miles Ezell, October 7-11,2000.

NATALIE: The girl that was pregnant in the video, umm, she was having a healthy pregnancy and went full term and she knew she was having a little boy and we got a call when she went into deliver the baby. He had to be put on life support and he had a heart problem and I believe he lived for 5 days.

EMILY (background) - 7th through 11th

NATALIE: So we just felt awful about it and the video hadn't been out yet and we just left it up to the family whether they wanted her to be taken out of the video or whether they wanted a dedication and we hoped that they would want a dedication and they did. So that was nice.

10. Without You

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