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In Defense of the "New Chicks"

The Dixie Chicks discussion list, maintained by Nici (webmistress of the web's best "New Chicks" fan site), has proven to be a great place to learn the latest news and gossip about the Chicks, new and old. So when the Dallas Observer did a feature piece on the legal troubles involving my "Old Chicks" sound samples, I made sure to post the info to the list.

The Observer has long been known for provoking a response, and their article on my site's "plight" was no exception. But despite the revelations in the piece, the discussion on the mailing list remained on a very high level. Nobody resorted to name-calling -- luckily for me, since I was squarely positioned as the lightning rod on the subject.

The letter below, from long-time list member Stephen (and reproduced with his permission), is the best of several well-thought-out responses to the assertions made by the Dallas Observer. I feel it is an essential part of the discussion, and I am grateful that he has allowed me to include it on my site.

To subscribe to Nici's Dixie Chicks discussion list, just send a message to dixiechicks-subscribe@egroups.com or visit the mailing list's eGroups web page.

From: PHTiger@aol.com
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 00:29:28 EST
To: dixiechicks@makelist.com
Subject: [dixiechicks] The End

Howdy everybody! I just thought I'd throw my two cents in here. First of all I'd like to say that I love everyone on this list and just hope you're all having a great day. I hope I don't get a lot of hate mail from this but I feel like it's something that needs to be said. I try not to talk much on this list to much unless I think it's really important.

Now I know everyone's talking about how the Chicks have seemingly forgotten their past. This new view of the chicks is trying to be forced on everyone by managers and producers and big companies and it seems like the Chicks are just going along with it. Now I'm not them so I'm not speaking for them. I'm simply bringing up some things that haven't really been mentioned and maybe it's just my opinion. :) I know what you're saying, "Just spit it out already." Here goes.

I really love the Chicks. I think they are great! One of the best sounds I have truly ever heard. They are great because they have proved it in the musical standings. They've had numerous number one songs and keep pumping them out. They are extraordinary. There is a reason for that though. I don't think that any of you will argue that it's because they are very different from their original formula. They are better than ever. Some major changes have occurred with their style and their lead singer. I don't want to step on any toes it's just that they are a completely different group now and I tend to believe, that is the way they see it. They were pretty good as the original Dixie Chicks. Now they are absolutely awesome.

I do agree with you in the fact that they shouldn't completely forget their past. I wouldn't hold it against them if they let it subside though. They have gone through an amazing transformation. Maybe some of you would disagree with me but I'm quite a musical critic and I have to say that musically speaking, Natalie is a superior singer compared to previous lead singers. Her talents added to Emily's and Martie's make them complete. They are a force to be reckoned with. They are really just beginning. It's only just begun for our wonderful Chicks. I know they have history and history should not be forgotten.

However, things change unfortunately and there are certain things that they have to let go in order to embrace the future. Their producers are acting in the Chicks best interest by trying to keep their new polished group from being "blemished" by their past. I put that in quotes because their image hasn't been hurt in any way for my in listening to past stuff. I like it. However I have seen, even on this list, people hearing the old stuff and not liking it. Their newest CD appeals to just about everyone. Their old stuff doesn't. It's just as sickening to me too, but that's how it is. I could never blame the Chicks for embracing their fame and running with it. How many people get the chance that they have? I wish them the best of luck in their success and I hope it continues for a very long time.

I'm in a group myself though and things have changed from time to time and anytime any person leaves a group, it is never the same. Some groups change their name when a person leaves. Some don't. Whether or not they do or not, they are not the same group as they once were. Different people sing and different sounds come from them. It's changed. Their history as the Chicks now doesn't include the past founders of the Chicks. Their history began when Natalie joined the group. The Chick group that we all know as the original no longer exists. It ended when the change occurred and the Dixie Chicks will never be that way again.

I'm not being mean or anything and it is sad. If there is anyone who hates ending's it's me. I do have to admit it when one comes though. We should remember the past but we should not dwell there. Our Chicks have great new exciting things coming up and we should be happy in all the great things that do happen. When these Chicks' career is over we will be able to say that we were here when it all began. We were the people who rooted for them before anyone else.

There's a song I know by a group who responded to the big incident with a group called Reel Big Fish. Reel Big Fish was an underground band for a long time. One day they got a record deal and they jumped at it. Many of the fans were outraged. They felt like their group had betrayed them by going big time. They called them "sellouts." A group called Five Iron Frenzy came out with a song called The Handbook for the Sellout. One of the lines that struck me the most goes like this.

Blame it on the band now. If you prick them do they bleed?
What's the point in playing what they want, if you won't let them succeed?

I know some of you are bitter about this. I can't say I'm happy. But they have succeeded and I'm not going to do a thing to deter that. I'm happy for them. I'd love to have that opportunity myself. I know some of you already know all this. I don't need to hear that you do. I just wanted to give this to all the people who hadn't thought about it. Many of you haven't even gotten to this point of the letter. It is pretty long. Thanks to all of you who read this. I really do appreciate your time.

Love ya, (I mean that)


Reel Big Fish banner, 14k GIF, from CDnow
"...Reel Big Fish (of "Sell Out" fame) manages to rock hard and remain pop-accessible by showing off its obnoxious yet goofy sense of humor with a four-piece horn section and crafty guitar licks."

- Amy Sciarretto, CMA New Music Report, quoted by CDnow.

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