Tonight, The Heartache's On Me (3/1999)
In late March, the consensus on the Dixie Chicks fan discussion list was that the next release
would be Let 'Er Rip, a return to the rockin' sound of There's Your Trouble and
I Can Love You Better. But one Friday, several list members (including myself) heard
the old-fashioned honky-tonk ballad Tonight, The Heartache's On Me, and I probably
wasn't the only one to let out a Texas-sized holler. This time, not only did Sony not release a
retail single (but see below), they didn't even release a video of the track! Not that they needed to... by early June,
the track had already hit the
Billboard Top 10.
The success of this release -- and its release itself -- surprised even veteran country DJs.
Mike Hays added it to the playlist at bluegrass-heavy online
station TwangCast.com, noting that it was
one of the cuts that would "never see radio." What a pleasant surprise!
Blast From The Past: Lightning strikes again!
Today Records reports that Heartache, like Wide Open Spaces,
was also released on 45rpm vinyl. This time, the B side is
Give It Up Or Let Me Go, the song Natalie said was recorded in a session featuring
free-flowing wine and an out-of-tune dobro. Hey, it sounds good to me!
In January 1999, with You Were Mine almost assured of reaching the top 10,
the Chicks were reported to have started taping the video for Let 'Er Rip.
According to a poster on the
(New) Dixie Chicks Fans Discussion List,
a Houston DJ said "I saw them when I was in Nashville, [and] they were
getting ready to make a video for 'Let Er Rip.' They use shots from
night, day, indoor, and outdoor concerts." (thanks to "The Spaz" for the scoop!)
So what happened? There's no way to know, but releasing a honky-tonk tune like Heartache
rather than a rocker like Let 'Er Rip may show that Sony now understands that the
Dixie Chicks' appeal extends beyond the teen female demographic... and maybe, just maybe, Sony
realizes that even teenage girls like to hear a good old-fashioned country song.
Although it appears that Let 'Er Rip would never be a "release to radio" single,
radio stations like Dallas' The Wolf had been playing it
in between "released" singles since summer 1998. It even got enough action
to push it into the mid-60s on the Billboard charts in June 1999.
But all bets were off when radio got hold of Ready To Run, the first single
from the Runaway Bride soundtrack, on June 22.
At one point, there was a remote possibility that I'll Be There For You, the song the Chicks dedicate
in concert to St. Jude's hospitals for children, would make at least a video appearance. A poster to the
Dixie Chicks discussion list reported hearing of a concert in early 1999 that would be taped for
video, but there's been no further word on the concert or any video from it.