After President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s news conference Monday in Helsinki, in which Trump called the United States “foolish” and sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies that said Russia interfered in the 2016 election, social media had plenty to say. But one theme kept cropping up: the Dixie Chicks.
For those who don’t recall the controversy: In March 2003, the Dixie Chicks — Natalie Maines, along with sisters Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire — were one of the most successful acts in country music history. While on tour in London promoting their hit album “Home,” Maines started bantering with the audience at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. It was the eve of the Iraq War.
“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all,” Maines said to the crowd. “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”
The Guardian published her comments, and when the quotes made their way back home to the United States, they caused a firestorm. Country radio stations were deluged with phone calls from fans to stop playing their music. Some protesters destroyed their CDs. Their tour sponsor dropped out. They got death threats.
The trio, who released one more Grammy-winning album (with the pointed song “Not Ready to Make Nice”) before going their separate ways, was effectively blacklisted by the country music industry.
“I definitely have a bad taste in my mouth about country radio,” Maines told Us Weekly afterward. “We did get supporters, but as a whole, the country music industry did not support us. Award shows would laugh at our expense. It was fun to hate us.”
However, the one element that really struck a nerve was the fact that Maines had criticized a U.S. president while abroad. In 2006, CMT President Brian Philips told Time magazine that the country music network had conducted focus groups on the band and called it “a great study in the American psyche.”
“What comes up over and over again is, ‘It would have been one thing if they’d said it on American soil, but it’s the fact that they said it in Europe that really sets me off!'” Philips said.
So now that Trump has openly criticized U.S. intelligence agencies while in Europe, the comparisons are rolling in.
In the meantime, Maines and the band recently reunited for their first tour in a decade and have also been dropping hints about new music. And Maines is still defiantly talking about politics.
“You are guilty of something,” she wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, linking to a picture of Trump. “So arrogant and scared. A weak coward. Admiring and capitulating to a much smarter dictator.”
The first reply: “And to think you guys were vilified for something that pales in comparison to what he did today.”