To the left is the cover of the Dixie Chicks’ new album, Taking the Long Way, which is their first new album since they shot off their mouths in a spectacularly rude way at a specutacularly bad time that was sure to alienate their country music audience.
GET THAT STORY IF YOU DON’T KNOW IT.
They could have recovered from that, but instead they issued a string of smouldering non-apologies and eventually appeared–bizarrely!–on the cover of Entertainment Weekly stark nekkid with inflammatory words and phrases painted on their bodies.
That ain’t really the country thing to do, and their fans turned their backs on them.
Now, personally, I don’t care if they hold the opinions of President Bush that they expressed in England. I’m not happy with President Bush, myself. But to say what they did (that they’re ashamed that the president is from Texas) when they did (in wartime) where they did (on foreign soil) to whom they did (Euro liberals) was sure to hack off the people who bought their records, and following it up with a bunch of non-apologies and bizarro stunts LIKE THIS (skin warning!) was utterly contemptuous of their core audience.
In other words, they were alienating their base.
So, three years later out comes their first new album and their label starts pitching it to country music stations and with news stories being written with headlines like "Dixie Chicks Return To Country Radio."
So have three years changed things? Is all forgiven? Will their country fans start listening to them again?
A precondition for forgiveness is repentance, and with defiant, in-your-face songs on the album like "Not Ready To Make Nice"–a contemptuous stab at those who were offended by their actions three years ago–it’s clear that the Chicks have some repenting to do if they want to be forgiven by their country fans.
I used to listen to their songs–I particularly liked "Goodbye Earl"–but the Chicks showed themselves to be a bunch of spoiled girls who have never grown up. I have no interest in listening to their songs because I will have no ability to enjoy them until they can adopt an attitude other than contempt for those who gave them their success by buying their albums and supporting them and their careers.
A basic rule of getting along in life for public figures is "Don’t show contempt for your base."
That’s a principle Mr. Bush ought to learn if he’d like his reputation to fare well in the long term, too.