Interview translated from German to English by
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German interview with the Dixie Chicks: Martie stands behind Natalie's comments.
"Der Spiegel" ^ | September 20, 2003 | "Der Spiegel" / Jörg Schallenberg


"Good girls, bad girls"

Since the successful Dixie Chicks spoke out publicly against the Iraq policy of George W. Bush in the spring, the three musicians are regarded as reviled outsiders in the conservative Country & western genre. Chicks fiddler Martie Maguire talked to SPIEGEL-ONLINE about the effects of their political infidelity.

Country-Bestseller Dixie Chicks, Geigerin Maguire (r.): ''Wir haben keine Angst''
GroßbildansichtCountry-Bestseller Dixie Chicks, Fiddler Maguire (r.): "We're not afraid"

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Miss Maguire, when exactly was the, in the meantime famous, sentence, "I am ashamed to say that I come from the same state as the President of the USA" used,- and why?

Martie Maguire: It was in March at a  concert in London , the Iraq War seemed to be immediately before us, and it seemed silly to us, not to talk about it. Perhaps the choice of words by Natalie Baines [sic, lj] , our lead singer,was a little poor, but it came from the heart. I wouldn't have said it quite like that, but I stand fully behind it. The crowd cheered.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Could you comprehend the intense reaction in the USA? 

Maguire: Unfortunately, through this, I now better understand, above all, how our genre works. Country music still is regarded as very, very conservative in the USA. Because of this it has hit us harder than other artists who were against the war. With rock musicians or actors apparently the public expects them to be rather liberally inclined, anyway, with us they apparently regarded that as unthinkable. But why shouldn't we, of all people, not have an opinion of our own about such an important topic? It's all quite frustrating and discouraging.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What affected you the most?

Maguire: The death threats were the worst, that's what was really crazy! Because of that we had extreme security measures on our USA tour. And, I also find it very un-American that several radio stations banned our music from their program. The USA is the Land, in which the right to free expression of opinions counts more as anywhere else - or, at least, so we thought, but the atmosphere was so heated, that it apparently didn't matter to the people in the radio stations.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: They just simply accused you with, that your comments were anti-American?

Aufsehen erregender ''Entertainment Weekly''-Titel: ''Wir waren ja nicht ganz nackt''
GroßbildansichtEyebrow Raising "Entertainment Weekly"-Cover: "We really weren't completely naked"

Maguire: How can they accuse someone with being unpatriotic who doesn't want to send their soldiers into the bloodbath of a war? I love Texas, I love the USA. But the best that one can do for their country is to not blindly follow the ones who are in power. Besides: When our soldiers were in Iraq, we supported them. We were one hundred per cent on their side. But this is something else again. I can nevertheless be of the opinion that the government hasn't exhausted all remedies for a peaceful solution.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: That was probably simply too much for most people, After all, the Dixie Chicks had the image of being a clean, nice,white girl's band.

Maguire: Yes, what a cliché! For a while now we've already had many songs in our repertoire, such as "Travelin' Soldier", which also speak critically about war and soldiers. We certaintly aren't really a political band. But we see where we can do a little something and now support, for example, the "rock the vote" campaign, which is supposed to encourage young people to register to vote and to take part in the elections themselves.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do your fans accept in the meantime, that at least you're a band with your own opinion?

Maguire: Oh, most of our fans have understood that for a long time. We had, in spite of all calls for a boycott, a very successful year and a sold-out tour. The new "Home" CD has sold well also.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are the all the radio stations playing your songs again?

Maguire: No, in no way! Many don't play us at all, others play only the older songs.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: From the time when you were all such nice girls?

Maguire: Yeah, why don't you just ride around on the cliché! Unfortunately, though, you're right. The people at these radio stations, above all in the Southern USA, think the same. Good girls, bad girls. Naturally, that doesn't help us too much when we want to promote a new CD.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: On the other hand, it was certainly good advertising to allow yourselves to be shot naked on the cover of the magazine "Entertainment Weekly"?

Maguire: We really weren't completely naked. We let all the phrases be painted on our skin, which were written and said about us including "Dixie-Sluts" or "traitors". And all that because of a sentance. It was completely absurd, and these photos were an artistic attempt, to make perfectly clear how completely absurd the situation was.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In view of the campaign against you, did other musicians show solidarity with you?

Maguire: In the Country-Scene practically no one. These people head for the hills fast when there's trouble, they're not there for each other. That was very disappointing. Oh yeah, a few weeks ago Merle Haggard dropped a few kind words about us, but that was it. We only got support from other areas, from Bruce Springsteen, for example.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You sound bitter, when you talk about your Country colleagues...

Maguire: Yes, I think, we don't feel a part of the Country-Scene anymore, that it can't be our home anymore. Look, this year in the USA we had the most successful tour in the Country & Western category, the most sold album, too. The Song "Travelin' Soldier" was on top of the Billboard charts. In spite of that, for the next Country Awards we we're only nominated in two categories. This year we didn't get any, we were booed at the awards ceremony. That says everything. We did win three Grammys against much larger competition, though. No, we see ourselves now as a part of the large Rock and Roll family.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are you glad, after all the unhappy events this year, to get to come to Europe?

Maguire: No, we don't want to flee the USA, and our concerts there were beautiful, the fans really supported us. But it really is strange, that the mood here, as far as Iraq is concerned, was completely different as in the USA. Maybe the people here are more critical.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Will you allow yourselves to be drawn into political commentary on the stage again?

Maguire: Yes, perhaps. We'll decide that as the situation occurs, we don't make any agreements beforehand. We're not afraid, in any case.

The Interview was conducted by Jörg Schallenberg


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