Fourteen years after the release of their last album Taking the Long Way in 2006, the Dixie Chicks will soon be returning with new music.
The trio has been teasing a new single, “Gaslighter,” in recent weeks, and announced the tune will officially drop March 4. A snippet of the song was posted online, offering the following song lyrics: Gaslighter, I’m your mirror/standing right here until you can see how/ you broke me, yeah I’m broken/still sorry and still no apology.
It remains to be seen whether the song will be played on—or even serviced to—country radio, given the group’s contentious history with the radio format.
The Dixie Chicks, who first launched their career in Texas, were ousted from country radio in the lead-up to the War on Iraq in 2003, after Maines criticized then-sitting President George W. Bush during a concert in London, saying, “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”
The trio’s song “Travelin’ Soldier,” which had been sitting atop the country music charts at the time, was pulled from country radio stations’ playlists, sending the song plummeting in the wake of Maines’ comments. Some country stations encouraged public burnings of Dixie Chicks albums, and the trio received death threats. A few hundred protesters in Bossier City, Louisiana gathered to destroy Dixie Chicks albums with a large tractor.
In 2006, the group released Taking the Long Way; the album, along with its single “Not Ready To Make Nice,” earned multiple Grammy honors in 2007, including overall Album, Song and Record of the Year, as well as Best Country Album and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. However, “Not Ready To Make Nice” peaked in the 30s on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart. Other songs released following “Travelin’ Soldier,” such as “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)” and “I Hope” failed to reach the Top 40 on the chart. Taking the Long Way would ultimately go on to earn 2x multi-platinum status, though far short of its predecessor, 2003’s Home, which earned 6x multi-platinum status.
The reaction from country listeners and country radio to Maines’ comments has had long-lasting ramifications for aspiring country artists in the years following. In her recent documentary Miss Americana, country darling-turned-pop icon Taylor Swift said, “Part of the fabric of being a country artist is, ‘Don’t force your politics on people. Let people live their lives.’ That is grilled into us. Throughout my whole career, label executives and publishers would just say, ‘Don’t be like the Dixie Chicks.’ And I loved the Dixie Chicks.”
It was Swift who ushered the Dixie Chicks back on to the country charts late last year, releasing the somber track “Soon You’ll Get Better,” with the Dixie Chicks on harmonies. The song is included on Swift’s latest album Lover, and entered the Top 10 on the Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart in September 2019, becoming the Chicks’ first entry on the chart since the George W. Bush controversy.
In October, Maines was a guest on the podcast Spiritualgasm, where she said the Dixie Chicks were working on an upcoming fifth album, also tentatively titled Gaslighter. During the podcast, Maines noted that they have been working with producer Jack Antonoff on the album; Antonoff also worked on Swift’s Lover album. She also said a 2020 tour was in the works. Over the past week, Maines has posted photos and videos, offering early looks at an upcoming music video for “Gaslighter.”
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