diary of a mad

25 february 2000


 dixie chicks

My initial impression, based on the Blonde Bare Belly-Button Bimbo marketing campaign, was that the Dixie Chicks were another manufactured-for-money, Spice Girls-type media creation. I was mildly offended at what I considered to be the profanation of the name: The Little Feat song "Dixie Chicken" is high on my all-time favorites list.

Seeing a couple of videos did little to dispel those doubts. As a steel guitarist, my nostrils naturally flare when I see another one, and in the videos one of the Dixie Chicks was holding a dobro (an acoustic steel guitar). Yeah, but Can You Play? Videos are all lip-synced; the question was still open.

Then, I saw them on Austin City Limits. Over 20+ years, I've come to trust the judgment of the show's producer, Bill Arhos, as better than my own. There wouldn't be any faking here...

Within 20 minutes, the secret was out: Emily Robison's and Martie Seidel's too-small butts got that way because those women play their asses off.

Freed of the limitations imposed in the studio, Emily was able to stretch out on dobro and banjo, and Martie on fiddle and viola, enough to dispel any doubts: Yes, They Can Play. My doubts were blown away; my conversion was complete; the Dixie Chicks, like my (and their) fellow Texan George Jones, are The Real Deal.

Then Natalie Maines (the lead singer, who doesn't play an instrument onstage, and who shows signs that she may, in time, develop a Proper Womanly Butt) brought her dad on stage.


I'm queer for intergenerational family musical acts anyway-- possibly because my daughter Ellen and son Joel are much more talented than I, and I rarely get to play with either of them. Joel came to visit right after Christmas, figuring it was the best present he could give me. We jammed all night. (He was right.)

On Austin City Limits years ago, Michelle Shocked declared, "Music is much too important to be left to the professionals," and brought her dad and brother on stage to play and sing with her. I cried, of course. (She was right.)

I cried again when I saw Meat Loaf on VH1, with his daughter singing backup.

But I absolutely lost it when, again on VH1, I first heard CPR, the band formed by David Crosby with his natural son James Raymond, whom he met for the first time literally on the eve of his liver transplant. I do not want to think about how close that music came to never happening-- but, of course, I can't help it.


Now, at this point, I still didn't know any of the Dixie Chicks' names, so completely had I dissed, dismissed, and disregarded them. So I was completely unprepared when the lead singer said, "Please welcome my dad, Lloyd Maines."

I literally couldn't breathe for a while, from laughing and crying at the same time. Steel guitar players are generally regarded as pieces of furniture by everyone except musicians. But among musicians, Lloyd Maines is regarded as one whom they don't get no better than. He had been a hero to me since about the time his daughter was in fifth grade, but I'd never seen him in person until a few months ago (but that's for another Diary entry). He's probably been on Austin City Limits a dozen or more times-- but he had to be one proud papa, to be introduced by his own daughter headlining the best damn music show on the planet.

So I closed my eyes, to avoid being distracted by the bare belly buttons and too-skinny butts (and the promising one), and tried to stop laughing and crying enough to concentrate on listening to music which it don't get much better than. I wasn't too successful...

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