Stars Of Country - The Dixie Chicks Story (6/24/01)

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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 most of the released singles including "If I Fall You're Going Down With Me". Very similar to Stars of Country (#01-03), but does include a few new sound clips from the Chicks.

Host: Larry Bayer
Airdate: June 23-24, 2001

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

LARRY BAYER: 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 permanent mark on country music.

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

LARRY BAYER: 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. They began playing on a Dallas street corner and Emily says things mushroomed from there.

EMILY: Martie and I both hostessed at restaurants before and just wasn't really our thing. So we thought 'You know, why don't we open up the guitar case. See what happens'. So we went down to the city hall , got a permit, made sure it was legal and everything. Timed it just right when all the conventioneers were coming out of the big halls and made about $375 in the first hour. So we thought 'You know, this could probaby work out somehow'.

LARRY BAYER: 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 1998 and quickly made the charts with the song I Can Love You Better.

1. I Can Love You Better

LARRY BAYER: At the start of their career the Chicks 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 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, I think a lot of people at the label tried to control us in the beginning.

2. There's Your Trouble

LARRY BAYER: 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: 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, 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

LARRY BAYER: 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
Last year the Dixie 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 to the press about demanding a recount, but Natalie Maines was pretty happy with the way it turned out.

NATALIE: 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 participation and 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.

4. You Were Mine

LARRY BAYER: 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 Seidel co-wrote the first hit from that CD, a song with an Irish flavor called Ready To Run. Of course don't call it Irish music in front of Martie's boyfriend. He's a native of Ireland.

MARTIE: Irish light as my boyfriend puts it. 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.

5. Ready To Run

LARRY BAYER: The Chicks spent three weeks at number one at the beginning of last year with Cowboy Take Me Away. Martie Seidel wrote the song for her sister Emily, who was getting ready to walk down the aisle with an up and coming country artist named Charlie Robison. But Emily would have jumped on it anyway.

EMILY: When I first heard it, I just loved the song overall and the demo on it or the way that Martie presented it, it seemed a little bit more folky than when we actually went in there and put all the instruments on it and I love that. I loved both ways that it was and it wasn't really until later that she told me that she kind of written with me and my now husband in mind. So it was kind of touching, you know, that it was about me and on top of it I just loved the song so much and we sang that at my wedding. we'd had too much fun at that point so we didn't do a very good job of it. But it was still touching nonetheless and I just love it. It's one of my favorite songs.

6. Cowboy Take Me Away

LARRY BAYER: 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. Natalie found the song through their producer Blake Chancey and she wasn't even sure how the other Chicks would react to it.

NATALIE: Ya know, when I first heard it, I didn't think Martie and Emily would like it. Blake played it for me months before we recorded the record and I liked it but I didn't think they'd like it. And then what do I know. Cause then we played it at another listening meeting and they were in there and I even liked it better the second time and they loved it and we just knew we had to do it.

7. Goodbye Earl

LARRY BAYER: 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. 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. 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.

LARRY BAYER: 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

LARRY BAYER: The Dixie Chicks ended 2000 on kind of a sad note. The video for their recent hit, Without You, featured a woman 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.
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

LARRY BAYER: 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.

11. If I Fall You're Going Down With Me

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