I'd heard of the Dixie Chicks before -- frequently, of course, due to the public uproar around their (incredibly mild, really) comments about Bush -- but I'd never heard them before. Oh, I'd had a vague sense that maybe I ought to, but that feeling was basically all about politics: feeling that I ought to support people where the
...words that I said,
Send somebody so over the edge,
That they'd write me a letter sayin' that I better,
Shut up an' sing or my life will be over?
But I had no real impulse to listen to them because, well, they sang country music. And I didn't listen to country music. Oh, I liked the song I heard after Johnny Cash died, but I didn't have any big impulse to go find more. Just wasn't on my radar. One might think it should be, since it is (as Xander called it) "the music of pain" -- and there were certainly times in my life when I needed that. But it wasn't.
So when I saw Atrios's post on the Dixie Chicks's upcoming album, I clicked on the link to listen to a single from the album because of their politics -- and I thought, what the hell, if I can listen online, I might as well give it a try. I didn't even notice the single's title.
The first thing I noticed was that the song, "Not Ready to Make Nice Now", was awesome. So I started paying attention to it because of the music.
And I listened to the lyrics. I thought, instantly, based on just the chorus, that it was a subtle reference to the controversy over their anti-Bush remarks -- probably allegorized to a love affair, these things were, but still that it was about them. Then I went and read the lyrics -- and, no, there's no allegory, the lyrics are !@#$% about that controversy, straight up.
It also didn't sound like country music. And I saw that one of the band recently said that "We don't feel a part of the country scene any longer, it can't be our home any more... we now consider ourselves part of the big rock 'n' roll family." Indeed, a fan site said that the single "bear[s] little resemblance to the Chicks' original bluegrass/Western sound."
The musicians of pain are now playing the music of anger: rock.
And yeah, I love the lyrics --
I'm not ready to make nice;
I'm not ready to back down.
I'm still mad as hell,
An' I don't have time,
To go round and round and round.
It's too late to make it right;
I prob'ly wouldn't if I could.
'Cause I'm mad as hell:
Can't bring myself,
To do what it is you think I should.
-- but I haven't played it over and over for more than an hour because of the lyrics. I listened once because of the politics, but it's not the politics any more. It's the music -- the piece -- the entire song.
So give "Not Ready to Make Nice" a listen. It's just awesome.
Hell, I may need to buy the whole album.