I don’t know who Kacey Musgraves is, but I just bought one of her albums. I might listen to it. Honestly, probably I won’t, and not just because I need to listen to The National’s newest album for the two-hundred-and-fiftieth time (dudes who want to jump to the comments to tell me The National sucks (and, yes, it’s always dudes), don’t). It’s because I’m not buying Musgraves’ album for its musical value. I’m buying it because she did this.
She did that, and I remember, all too well, the sins of our past. I remember the apology we as liberals owe to The Dixie Chicks.
See, this isn’t the first time that a country star has outspokenly criticized politics in a way that Conservatives didn’t care for. Way back in the Before Times of 2003, Dixie Chick’s lead singer Natalie Maines (Pajiba Ten #2020) told a crowd at a London show that the Chicks were opposed to the impending unprovoked invasion of Iraq (calling it a “war” tends to minimize the fact that the United States invaded a nation that posed absolutely no threat to us, and then we killed an ungodly number of people), and that she was “ashamed the president was from Texas.” Country music did not take kindly to that.
The bigger issue was that the non-country music community didn’t step in to fill the hole. Country music stations and Country Music Television refused to play their songs, but MTV and VH1 didn’t really play their songs either. The Dixie Chicks were as big of a cross-over act as you could get while still being wholly country, so non-country fans, even those who supported what Maines had said, didn’t feel like it was our job to show up for the Chicks. I mean, we appreciated that they were speaking out, but what were we supposed to do? Go to an actual country show?
I mean, not really “we.” I had gone to a country show because I loved the everloving crap out of the Chicks. I owned their albums, I’d seen them in concert multiple times, my BFF and I had a whole pantomime routine to ‘Goodbye Earl’ (which we performed as recently as four weeks ago, and yes, it still holds up). So I had been supporting the Chicks, and I was planning to support them through their excommunication from the country music world. But then … look, I didn’t mean to not support them. I just didn’t know how to stand up for them to people who wanted to forget about politics for a bit. The friends that I’d gone to concerts with didn’t dislike what the Dixie Chicks had said, they were just thrown by the controversy around them. Liking the Chicks had become “a thing.” And mentioning that you liked the Chicks to people became “a thing.” And even people who didn’t mind it being “a thing” (me) didn’t know how to overcome the fact that their friends did mind that it was “a thing.” We thought that politics could be politics, and didn’t need to touch all of the areas of our lives.
We were super wrong.
While liberals were deciding that yeah, the Chicks aren’t bad, and sure, Natalie Maines seems to be a spitfire, that didn’t mean that we needed to adopt them as our own. Even when they put out an astonishingly good album and even more astonishingly good song all about how their lives had been nearly ruined because they had the ovaries to stand up for what was right. They were saying the right things politically and putting out really good music, and we still wouldn’t show up for them. We failed them. We failed them and didn’t realize that Republicans would never, ever make the same mistake. I mean, Jon Voight still has a career exclusively because he says things Republicans love. There are a lot of lessons we seemingly didn’t learn from The Trump Administration: Take 1 that we need to learn now, but chief among them is: YOU DO NOT ALLOW A PUBLIC FIGURE TO BE OSTRACIZED FOR DOING WHAT’S RIGHT. YOU WILL REWARD GOOD BEHAVIOR, AND YOU WILL PROTECT THOSE WHO ARE PUNISHED BY CONSERVATIVES.
So support Kacey Musgrave. Follow her on Twitter. Let the people around you know that she did the right thing. Buy her album. Hell, buy a Dixie Chicks album while you’re at it. Because we owe them a very, very big apology.
Then listen to this because Natalie Maines wants you to know you can have your ears back when she’s f*cking done with them.
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