Dixie Chicks’ Lasting Legacy Celebrated With ‘Storytellers’
Even after a five year hiatus, the Dixie Chicks still claim their title as the best-selling female group of all time. That’s partly because taking a break did not mean neglecting their fans. After wrapping promotion of their multi-platinum, Grammy-sweeping 2006 album, ‘Taking the Long Way,’ the Texas trio stepped out of the spotlight, taking time off the road to spend with their families. But they didn’t leave Chicks fans hanging, as they unveiled a documentary, ‘Shut Up and Sing,’ in 2007, followed by two greatest hits compilations in 2010. Sisters and Dixie Chicks co-founders Emily Robison and Martie Maguire also started a duo, Court Yard Hounds, releasing a critically-acclaimed album last spring. And the latest in their effort to keep giving back to the loyal fans who’ve stuck by them through their highly-publicized ups and downs, the Chicks are now excited to share one of their most intimate live performances ever, ‘VH1 Storytellers,’ releasing the show on DVD.
The Boot talked to Emily about the new ‘Storytellers’ release and some of her most memorable moments from the taping. We also pose that one question she most surely gets on a daily basis: When will the Chicks reunite? Believe us, we’re just as anxious for it as you are!
The ‘Storytellers’ series gives fans insight behind songs’ lyrics. On this new DVD, what would you say is the coolest story behind the song that fans get to hear?
It was bizarre to go back and do an edit, because it was recorded in 2006 and I had forgotten what we had said that night. In watching it again recently, I was most touched by ‘Silent House,’ which [was inspired by] Natalie’s grandmother with Alzheimers. That is such an important song on that album [‘Taking the Long Way’], even though it wasn’t a fan favorite. It was an interesting song to write, because it was so personal.
The audience at the ‘Storytellers’ taping was told not to stand, because they might block a camera. But after the powerful bridge of ‘Not Ready to Make Nice,’ they rebelled and gave you a standing ovation. What are you feeling up on stage when you see that kind of reaction to yet another song that is so personal?
It hits me the same every night. It was their way of showing us their support. It was a raw, emotional time for us. That song especially, being a culmination of everything that went on during that time. It brought me to tears almost every time we sang it. It’s more of the fans giving back in that song that means so much.
This was edited out of the DVD, of course, but your sister Martie got a lot of laughs when she forgot her solo in ‘Cowboy Take Me Away’ — a song she wrote! Do you remember that?
Yes! [laughs] How many times has Martie played the song? I’ve been there, and the harder you try, the worse it gets. In the edited show, you can see the fans are crazy when she gets the fiddle solo right. People think it’s an amazing reaction to the fiddle solo, but it’s because she got it on the tenth try. [laughs]
You must be asked a million times a day when the Chicks are getting back together. So I’ll be unoriginal and ask you — will it ever happen?
I hope so. I sure hope so. It doesn’t really satisfy fans and media that much … we talk about the status of the Dixie Chicks, and we are as honest as we can be. We’re on hiatus. We haven’t broken up. For us, [this DVD] is kind of a gift for the fans. We just want them to know we’ll always give as much as we can. I’m the one that’s always ready to get on the bus and go to work, but it’s not always up to me. It takes three people to want to be there. I’ve come to peace with that. I’m staying zen about it.
In the meantime, how about new Court Yard Hounds music? Will we see your sophomore album come out anytime soon?
Oddly enough, Martie and I are in writing mode for Court Yard Hounds. We’ve written a ton. But we haven’t picked the songs yet, so we aren’t out there touring for [the new music] yet. We are just here (in Texas) taking care of our kids and going to the studio. A year ago when we were out there promoting Court Yard Hounds, it was the same question … It was difficult. It’s been awhile since we’ve checked in. It doesn’t really bother me. It’s a valid question. I’m grateful some people are still interested!
When the Dixie Chicks were first starting out, you didn’t have to worry about interacting with fans online, through sites like Twitter or Facebook. But starting anew as Court Yard Hounds, did you have to get used to this whole new trend of accessibility? Is that what your monthly web chats are all about?
Constant contact is what people require these days. It’s tough on artists. When we were just starting out and the band was all we had in our lives, it probably would’ve been easier back then because we lived and breathed the band 24 hours a day, with just the band and touring and making it work 300 days out of the year. Now we have the kids trying to be an artist and write, it’s hard to give as much content. That’s when I feel like we’re up against a deadline. We try our best, but we’re not as good as we need to be. Other artists are so on top of it, but we don’t tend to be that way.
Those other artists probably don’t have three kids.
[laughs] That’s what I keep telling myself.
Taylor Swift covered ‘Cowboy Take Me Away’ live in concert earlier this year and continues to name-drop the Dixie Chicks as one of her biggest influences.
We were honored. We think she’s great. We met her a Target event we did with Court Yard Hounds, and she was so funny. She’s so poised, but when she saw us, she started freaking out. It was weird. It was like, ‘Why are you freaking out?’ I think it’s wonderful.
Dixie Chicks, ‘VH1 Storytellers’ Tracklisting:
(buy it here)
‘The Long Way Around’
‘Cowboy Take Me Away’
‘Lubbock or Leave It’
‘Not ready to Make Nice’
‘Wide Open Spaces’