The Dixie Chicks remain the top country touring act of the year, despite controversial remarks they made about President Bush last March. It is what they refer to as “the incident,” 15 words they say changed their lives forever when lead singer Natalie Maines said, “Just so you know we are ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas” and today, the group releases a brand new DVD of their world tour. “Today” national correspondent Jamie Gangel sat down to talk to them about life after “the incident.”
“If you had it to do over again would you do it the same way?”
Natalie Maines: “I would still say something against the war and against everything that was going on. But it would’ve been very intelligent (Laughter) and well thought out.”
This year has been a roller coaster for the Dixie Chicks. When it started, they were sweeping awards and monopolizing the spotlight. Then, “the incident” and overnight, they were facing angry fans, boycotts and protests.
They did apologize, sort of, for being disrespectful. But the now infamous Entertainment Weekly magazine cover, where the Dixie Chicks posed nude, said it all:
Maines: “I just wanted to get naked.”
Martie Maguire: “I wanted people to see the absurdity and... just the specter of the names that we were being called, just to kind of get a sense of how far it had gone. Because I think a lot of people really didn’t know... that it was into death threats and, you know, being called ‘The Dixie Sluts’ and things like that.”
Gangel: “Can I ask you how you feel about the war today as you watch it unfold?”
Maines: “This is dangerous because I think people were misled and I think people are fighting a war that they didn’t know they were going to be fighting. And I think they were mislead by people who should’ve been asking questions and weren’t.”
Gangel: “Does it in some ways though make you feel vindicated Natalie for what you said?”
Maines: “No, I would’ve liked to have been proven wrong.”
As for President Bush, the group is still angry about a comment he made.
President Bush: “The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say and ... they shouldn’t have their feelings hurt, just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out. I mean, you know, freedom is a two-way street.”
Gangel: “When you heard the president say that how did you feel?”
Maines: “My heart sunk.”
Emily Robison: “He wasn’t standing up for the principles that our country are founded on. It was very… it’s not what you want the official statement to be from your government.”
Maguire: “I want something inspiring — not something petty like that.”
Maines: “Or something like ‘We agree to disagree and that’s what’s great about America...’”
Maguire: “‘You got what he deserve,’ is basically what it said. ‘This is going to happen if you keep speaking’ out and it’s a way to kind of shut you up.”
Maines: “It didn’t work.” (Laughter)
Gangel: “Why do I get the feeling that we’re going into Round Three?”
Even with the controversy, their U.S. tour was a huge success, grossing $60 million. But, the Chicks admit, now that they are back home in Texas, they’re anxious to see what happens to their career.
Gangel: “How important is it to you that this CD particularly do well?”
Maines: “I mean it could be a huge disappointment or it could be a big surprise. I feel for the first time in our career that we’ve really come to a place where we couldn’t call it. I think it’ll be a telling release.”
Gangel: “Talk to me about the tour. Were you worried the first night when you went out there?”
Maguire: “You didn’t know if you were going to walk out on stage and get booed (laughter) or whether they were just going to love you or whether you’re going to have, you know, the people up in the balcony shouting obscenities at you. You just didn’t know— every night you were just kind of wondering what the atmosphere was going to be like.”
Maines: “And people say, you know, ‘But your tour was sold out, you had the biggest selling tour.’ And I was like ‘Yeah, but would it have done that if it went on sale after March 10?’ I tend to think not.”
Maines: “So we don’t have any indication as of yet, you know, how many people still like us.” (Laughter)
Along the way there were scary moments, even death threats, and one night, they almost didn’t go on.
Maguire: “Emily a
nd I didn’t want to do the show, the particular show, particular time, a particular weapon. You know, just very specific and we didn’t want to do the show but Natalie was like, ‘They can’t win! Negative! The bad people can’t win!’ And she’s very strong.”
Robison: “I said, ‘Just don’t stand next to me when we’re on the stage.” (Laughter)
Gangel: “You didn’t worry about it.”
Maines: “No. It’s not about worry. It’s just I’m not going to let that win. I mean what if— we had gotten one of those every single night. We’re going to cancel our whole tour and let these people disrupt our lives?”
The new, more political Dixie Chicks have also recently joined the “Rock the Vote” campaign and say they will continue to speak out. And they say whatever happens they have no regrets:
Maines: “We’re fine. I mean we like making music and we’ll continue to do that whether people buy it or not.”
Maguire: “You have to feel like you’re about to lose something before you really appreciate it. That’s human nature and we’ve gotten to that point and that’s a gift.”
And The Dixie Chicks Top of the World DVD is available in stores today.