How people reacted to me being a Dixie Chicks fan before March 2003:

“You listen to them? What kind of a backwoods, redneck, hillbilly, sleep with your sister, right-wing nutjob are you?”

From March 2003-present:

“You listen to them? What kind of a left-wing, tree-hugging, America-hating, liberal commie nutjob are you?”

Life has to be easier for fans of soft rock.

Anyway, the journalist who has followed them for the past year has written a fascinating recount of their Grammy night: The Chicks Have Arrived. Hilarious at some points, poignant at others, it’s wonderful to see the humanity of these three talented Texas gals, particularly Ms. Natalie Maines, who lost it backstage after winning their fifth and final Grammy.

when Natalie finally walks into the dressing room to our thunderous applause, a very dark weight evaporates from her shoulders.

Natalie is crying. Bawling, really. The kind of outpouring built up for years but that has been forever blocked by an internal wall. After giving us grateful hugs, she takes a call from her mother who further reduces her to tears. She clearly absorbs the reality of this all as each minute goes by. When asked how she feels, she shares, in the most honest manner possible, that she is “emotional, sentimental, and really happy.”
Despite months of observing her, I have never heard Natalie Maines declare that she is “really happy” until this moment. I have waited for this ever since I first met the Chicks a year ago. Her family has been waiting for it. Martie and Emily have been waiting for it. Since 2003, Natalie has undoubtedly internalized and been haunted by all the drama of the last few years. She’s needed this cry, the kind of catharsis that finally allows a human being to truly move on.

I still remember my furious anger at the backlash the Chicks received, and how unjust it was that Home, my favorite album so far this decade, got lost in the shuffle of the madness that followed. Four years later, with their Grammy wins behind them, I think it was all worth it in the end. The awards don’t mend the rift – one co-worker of mine said it was a disgrace that those Bush-bashers won anything – but it does provide a reasonable bit of closure, as close to a happy ending as I could’ve hoped for.