Not Ready to Make Nice:
It’s a political punch in the gut and a rousing rocker of a song all combined into one and it’s the best Dixie Chicks tune right now, and maybe ever.
The visceral reaction to the President Bush (Ã¢Â?Â¦We’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas) comment the Chicks made from the stage in London on the eve of the Iraq war resonates perfectly in 2006, with Maines’ beautifully cranky vocals and a heavy-duty string arrangement bouncing off each other splendidly.
Rick Rubin, who produced the Chicks’ latest record, 2006’s Taking the Long Way, from which this first single comes, should get more credit for this hit.
Cowboy Take Me Away: This #1 hit on the country charts from 2000 is also another great Maines vocal but features some deft banjo picking by Emily Robison. It was one of several hits from 1999’s Fly release.
Chick Martie Maguire co-wrote this baby with Marcus Hummon as a wedding gift for her sister, fellow Chick Robison. The song evolved and was influenced by Martie repeating the famous 1980s TV commercial, “Calgon take me away.”
Ready to Run: The lead track from Fly is a great sing-a-long tune and ends with an excellent fiddle and string jam that evokes an Irish jig you might find playing in a Dublin pub.
This number 2 country hit was also featured in the 1999 Julia Roberts and Richard Gere movie Runaway Bride and also won the Chicks the Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 2000 Grammy Awards.
Goodbye Earl: You cannot have a listing of top Chicks songs without this rousing classic from 2000, which only got to number 12 on the country charts, but was a fan favorite for its sarcastic stab at domestic violence.
About a woman who kills her abusive husband and gets away with it, this wacky ballad from Fly does not take itself seriously, and neither does the band. It’s a song only a female band could pull off, but America’s favorite detective, Dennis Franz, of NYPD Blue fame, plays the abusive husband in the video and comes back from the dead at the end to dance!
Easy Silence: The love song is new, off their latest record, Taking the Long Way, but it has chops to become a masterpiece if it does not chart. Again, strong string work and Maines melodic voice meld to form a song you will want to play again, and again.
Watch for the subtle political references, to which Maines addresses on the band’s website: “Even when we tried to write a sweet song, there was always a little dig at somebody.”
Travelin’ Soldier: This ode to the military man (and woman) from 2002’s release Home is probably the Chicks’ most ironic song, and hit. It was a number 1 country hit in 2002 before the President Bush remark in early 2003.
Even after the controversy with the song, American troops favored the song while in the Middle East. They have good reason: it’s an excellent piece and in concert the Chicks change it a bit and lay it down with harmonies galore.
Cold Day in July: This only got to a high of 9 on the country charts, but it’s a crooning classic of heartache that only Maines can deliver. Also from Fly.
It’s breakup city and will be a welcome comfort to the dumped, musically speaking. Consider this lyric: “The moon is full and my arms are empty/All night long I’ve pleaded and cried/ You always said the day that you would leave me/Would be a cold day in July.”
Wide Open Spaces: The title track from the re-tooled Dixie Chicks’ 1998 debut with Maines as the singer, this is just all around great Dixie Chicks sound.
Although a great hit and song, it was the second number hit on the record, after “There’s Your Trouble,” and third overall single form the record. However, it was number 1 for four weeks, longer than any other hit they’ve had.
Landslide: This 2002 cover from Home of the Stevie Kicks-written Fleetwood Mac hit was not reminiscent of the Chicks sound, but it made the top 10 of four different Billboard charts, and was a huge radio favorite. It’s also a staple of their live performances now and is another great showcase of Maine’s voice and the trio’s ability to harmonize.
Lubbock or Leave It: Not a huge hit, yet, but this track from the latest record Taking the Long Way pulls of an eclectic mix of musical styles, from rockabilly to punk to bluegrass, all the while rocking and rolling. Also an absolutely a great live cut. Check it out.