The Chicks Paved The Way For Olivia Rodrigo And Phoebe Bridgers To Get Political

The Chicks Paved The Way For Olivia Rodrigo And Phoebe Bridgers To Get Political

Maines was winking at what has unfairly become the Chicks’ legacy: when their career was disrupted at extraordinary heights. In 2003, The Chicks — then the Dixie Chicks; they changed their name during the 2020 protests, dropping the “Dixie” because of its association with the South during the Civil War — were also on foreign soil. They were performing in the UK at the outset of the Iraq War when Maines made the statement that would forever alter the band’s trajectory. She told the audience the Chicks were ashamed to be from the same state as George W. Bush.

The maelstrom was swift. Almost immediately, the Chicks were blacklisted from country radio. People held album-burning rallies. Country singer Toby Keith performed to audiences in front of an altered photo that showed Maines hugging Saddam Hussein. In the span of weeks, the Chicks went from one of the most successful acts in America to one of the most pilloried.

In the aftermath, Maines first raged against an industry that abandoned the Chicks. Then she raged against the threats directed at her band, especially the one that came with a detailed plan, saying in a letter that “you will be shot dead at your show in Dallas.” And when the Chicks took a hiatus and returned in 2020 with Gaslighter, their first album in 14 years that was built around Maines’ divorce, that too had moments that glow incandescent with rage directed at an ex-husband who tried to prevent the band from releasing music about the breakup. The fucking nerve.

Nineteen years later, here is the house that Maines’ rage built: at the Glastonbury music festival, Bridgers wasn’t the only one to speak out; the same night, Billie Eilish told the crowd that “today is a really, really dark day for women in the US.” Olivia Rodrigo brought out Lily Allen and dedicated “Fuck You” to the five Supreme Court justices who voted to bring Roe down. Lorde spoke out. Country star Maren Morris vowed to “fight.” Meanwhile, Taylor Swift, who for a stretch was criticized for avoiding politics and who once revealed in a Netflix documentary that “throughout my whole career, label executives and publishers would say, ‘Don’t be like the Dixie Chicks,’” shared her thoughts on Twitter, saying she was “terrified.

The Chicks were ridiculed and threatened, told to “shut up and sing,” but now see themselves vindicated. This is how their legacy should be understood: They opened a door for women to be as angry as they need to be in an industry that has often discouraged such anger, and a whole new generation of artists walked through it. Perhaps Maines’ laugh was a recognition that they built the path for Bridgers and Eilish to say what they needed to say. Perhaps that’s why after she had her laugh, Maines straightened her posture and repeated the words with a serious face, this time without attributing them to Bridgers: “Fuck the Supreme Court.”