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The Band Formerly Known as the Dixie Chicks Has No More “F–ks” to Give. Finally

Seventeen years after they were vilified for criticizing a president, the bestsellling female band in history is back with a new name, new album, and a new attitude we applaud as being very NextTribe-like.

We’ve noticed a common thread among our NextTribe readers, an attitude that comes with age and confidence. We really stop caring what other people think. Most of us feel liberated from that cage—whether created by society or ourselves or both—and start to follow a path that feels most true to who we’ve always been. We’ve written about it again and again.

So it’s beyond gratifying when we see that metamorphosis writ large, the way the band formerly known as the Dixie Chicks is demonstrating now. Seventeen years after they were vilified for criticizing President George W. Bush for invading Iraq, they are back with a new album, Gaslighter, and a new, shall we say?, boldness that we applaud heartily.

“I used to care way too much what people thought,” Emily Strayer, 47, told the New York Times. “I really have a don’t-give-a-[expletive] part to me now, which I didn’t have before.”

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Speaking Out Again

They’ve gotten past the hurt of being essentially kicked out of country music even though they are the bestselling female band and bestselling country group in music history. They’ve gone 14 years without an album while they worked on solo projects, backed up other singers (such as Beyonce), and devoted themselves to family life. Lead singer Natalie Maines, 45, has two teenage sons. Martie Maguire, 50, has three daughters, and her younger sister, Strayer, has four children.

Today they are back with a vengeance and no apologies. They made news last month when they dropped the “Dixie” part of their name to become just The Chicks. “We want to meet this moment,” the band announced on its website. And what a moment it is: The whole country and any individuals with even a crack of an open mind have been re-examining racial equality and justice. The Chicks thought it was important to distance themselves from any trace of glorification for America’s racist past.

Read More: What Would Frida Do? Lessons on Living Boldly

Personal or Political…Or Both?

The songs on Gaslighter are raw, with anger pulsing beneath pop melodies. They were written as a cathartic response to Maines’s divorce, which became final this past December. But the lyrics can also be interpreted as political, as they surely will be. In the title track, for instance, the chorus includes the line, “Doing anything to get your ass farther,” and Maines repeats, “You liar.” Plus the album title itself reflects what many believe the Trump Administration has been doing to America for the past three-and-a-half years. Gaslighting is of course a form of psychological manipulation in which someone tries to make others question their own memory, perception, or judgment. Or, it should be said, facts.

This time, with their new fearlessness, they don’t care if listeners find political statements. As Maines unabashedly told the New York Times, “I criticize the president every single day!”

By Jeannie Ralston


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