Top Ten Songs by the Dixie Chicks

Hate me if you want, but I love the Dixie Chicks. Natalie Maines along with sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison are an extremely talented trio. When it comes to music, the Dixie Chicks know how to make hits. And if you believe in freedom of speech, you’ll agree that the only mistake this group ever made was having a momentary lapse in business sense. When Natalie Maines publicly criticized President George W. Bush in 2003, the rising star called the Dixie Chicks fell from the sky with a thud.

At that time, the song “Travelin’ Soldier” went from what seemed like almost constant airplay to zilch overnight. Many radio stations cut back or completely nixed the Dixie Chicks from their line-ups, so true fans had to rely on their CDs to hear their favorite Dixie Chicks songs.

While I have several of their CDs, Fly, released in 1999, is still my all-time favorite. I’ve listened to that CD so many times, I can sing along to almost every song. (When no one is listening, of course. I’m certainly no Natalie Maines.) But when choosing the top 10 Dixie Chicks songs, I did pick a few from other albums.

In my humble opinion, here are the top 10 Dixie Chicks songs:

1. “Cold Day in July” – I don’t think I’ve ever heard this Dixie Chicks song on the radio, even before the boycott. It’s the fourth track on Fly, and it’s about a woman whose man is leaving her even though he told her it would be “a cold day in July” before he ever did so.

2. “Without You” – This one is also from Fly, and I don’t think this one got a lot of play on the radio either, but it’s a great song. It’s another Dixie Chicks song about a woman upset over the loss of a man. Hmm âÂ?¦ there seems to be a trend here.

3. “Cowboy Take Me Away” – This one, also from Fly, is a little more upbeat, although it is about a man again. Martie Maguire (at the time her last name was Seidel) wrote this song for her sister, Emily, about her relationship with Charlie Robison. Robison is the cowboy mentioned in the song. Also a talented songwriter and singer, he is from Bandera, Texas, the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” where he and Emily still have a ranch. I guess that is where he “takes her away.”

4. “Wide Open Spaces” – This one is from an album of the same name. It was the first album the Dixie Chicks released with Natalie Maines as the lead singer. (Between 1990 and 1993, other incarnations of the Dixie Chicks cut three albums before Natalie Maines came along and the band made it big commercially.)

5. “Goodbye Earl” – The fifth song on Fly, this song’s release was probably the first taste of controversy the Dixie Chicks experienced. The song is about two best friends, Mary Ann and Wanda, who take different paths in life. Wanda ends up married to Earl, who abuses her so badly she is sent to the hospital. So the two poison Earl and live happily ever after. It doesn’t sound funny, but it is âÂ?¦ in a twisted kind of way. Let’s just say that Earl gets what he deserves.

6. “Travelin’ Soldier” – This song, from the album called Home, released in 2002, was written by Bruce Robison, brother of Charlie Robison (the cowboy mentioned above). Bruce Robison is also a songwriter (he sings a little, too), and he’s married to another popular country singer, Kelly Willis. Anyway, it’s too bad the song didn’t get to run its course on the charts. It is a good one.

My picks for nos. 7, 8 and 9 all have heart or heartache in their titles: “Don’t Waste Your Heart” from Fly; “Hello Mr. Heartache” from Fly; and “Tonight the Heartache’s On Me” from Wide Open Spaces. These three are just great songs to sing along to.

10. “Not Ready to Make Nice” – This one is the first release from Taking the Long Way, the 2006 Dixie Chicks album. It’s more or less their comeback anthem. Only time will tell if the Dixie Chicks can come back from commercial near-suicide and get back on top. But with great songs like this one, surely it’s just a matter of time.

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