The Dixie Chicks new song is a brutally honest open letter to gaslighters. We discuss the band's comeback and the importance of the song
I am a big fan of the Dixie Chicks.
If you know me and have come in contact with me on a night out, you will more than likely have caught a virus. No, not the Coronavirus – the Travelin' Soldier virus. A song so contagious, no vaccine can protect you.
The song is my party piece and forever will be. Written and originally sang by Bruce Robison, the Dixie Chicks covered it in 2003 and it became an integral part of life.
During the late nineties and early noughties, the Dixie Chicks were power players on the country music scene. Like Shania Twain, their style brought country music to the mainstream and it seemed that the group were unstoppable.
However, they hit an obstacle much bigger than them and the music. This hurdle was politics. Country music icon Dolly Parton made it a rule to never get involved with that world. On the podcast, Dolly Parton’s America, she said: "I don’t do politics... I have too many fans on both sides of the fence. Of course, I have my opinion about everything, but I learned years ago to keep your mouth shut about things.”
Country music and politics is a precarious mix. One which was to be a downfall for the Dixie Chicks in March 2003. During a concert at London's Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, the band criticised the then US President George Bush saying, "Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.”
This created a severe backlash from grassroots Republicans who called for a boycott on the music of the Dixie Chicks. They could never fully recover the success and popularity they had prior, even though their last album was Grammy Award-winning.
Fourteen years later, they are back with new music in the form of the single 'Gaslighter', a fiery and honest portrayal of an issue women all over have faced. The song is allegedly inspired by the end of band member Natalie Maines' marriage to Heroes actor Adrian Pasdar in 2017. The former couple had two kids and embarked on a lengthy divorce battle over spousal support. Pasdar reportedly asked for access to all of Maines' unreleased music, claiming some of the lyrical content could violate a confidentiality clause in their prenup.
Lyrically, the song does not hold back with lines like "Gaslighter, you broke me, You're sorry, but where's my apology?/Cause, boy, you know exactly what you did on my boat/Tried to say I'm crazy, babe, we know I'm not crazy, that's you Gaslighting."
Gaslighter is defined as "a psychological manipulator who seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a group, making them question their own memory, perception or sanity."
For those who have not experienced it, gaslighting is a draining life force. You question everything. You backtrack on moments and incidences, speculating whether or not they happened – whether or not you are indeed insane.
The patterns repeat and you learn to appease the other. For so many women, they take the treatment as normality. Love is blinding, and the more you adore someone the more you take and accept whatever they throw at you. Someone shouting that you are crazy or have lost your mind soon becomes a term of endearment. Days, months and years are wasted before you come to the undeniable conclusion that this treatment is not acceptable.
If you have been at the receiving end of this behaviour, you become alert to the signs in others. Women believing, trusting and affirming the abuse. It is everywhere and happening to many more women than we think.
The Dixie Chicks writing a song on this subject matter is a step in the right direction and a sign women have no intentions of holding back. The song is brutally forthright on the often hidden elements of a relationship, ones which should never be ignored. It's a power anthem of sorts, with feminist undertones and a 'don't need no man' attitude, but most importantly, it's a no-holds-barred letter to the gaslighters of the world.
They can keep trying, but they can't win.
They won't silence us.
Plus, the tune is catchy. One play and it is stuck on repeat in your head for the day.
Welcome back, Dixie Chicks.
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