Springsteen backs Dixie Chicks

By Joe Kovacs

Rock legend Bruce Springsteen is coming to the defense of the Dixie Chicks, saying the country trio is getting a “raw deal” in the wake of a wartime comment critical of President Bush.


Bruce Springsteen

Perhaps best known for his “Born in the USA” anthem, the singer/guitarist nicknamed “the Boss” has posted a message on his website unequivocally expressing support for the group:

The Dixie Chicks have taken a big hit lately for exercising their basic right to express themselves. To me, they’re terrific American artists expressing American values by using their American right to free speech. For them to be banished wholesale from radio stations, and even entire radio networks, for speaking out is un-American.

The pressure coming from the government and big business to enforce conformity of thought concerning the war and politics goes against everything that this country is about – namely freedom. Right now, we are supposedly fighting to create freedom in Iraq, at the same time that some are trying to intimidate and punish people for using that same freedom here at home.

I don’t know what happens next, but I do want to add my voice to those who think that the Dixie Chicks are getting a raw deal, and an un-American one to boot. I send them my support.

For his part, Springsteen has made his own anti-war statements during several concerts this year, often performing the late Motown singer Edwin Starr’s protest hit “War.” He’s also lamented what he feels is the loss of civil liberties in America.

The Dixie Chicks became embroiled in controversy after singer Natalie Maines – a Texan – told a crowd of London concertgoers last month, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”

Sales of their No. 1 album “Home” have since dropped, and some radio stations have yanked the group from playlists.

Though ticket sales for the group’s upcoming concerts have remained strong with many venues selling out, MSNBC reported this week that Lipton would not confirm whether the iced tea brand is still the title sponsor of the tour.

During a nationally broadcast interview on ABC, Maines said she spoke against President Bush and the invasion of Iraq out of frustration. She said she regrets her choice of words but makes no apologies for thinking critically.

“It was the wrong wording with genuine emotion and questions and concern behind it. Am I sorry that I asked questions and that I just don’t follow? No,” Maines said.

Fellow country artists Faith Hill and Vince Gill have also expressed support for the beleaguered band, and President Bush himself told NBC’s Tom Brokaw that the Dixie Chicks were “free to speak their mind.”

The group is raising eyebrows again in the latest edition of Entertainment Weekly, posing nude on the strategically positioned cover.


Dixie Chicks on Entertainment Weekly cover

Maines told the magazine said she went through a range of emotions once the backlash started.

“It sort of felt like how people say it is when someone dies, how you go through every stage – angry, disappointed, confused. Some days I just feel proud,” she said.

The provocative cover is already being spoofed on the Internet, with a mock version of the magazine entitled Airbrush Quarterly.


Spoof cover mocks Natalie Maines’ weight (StrangeCosmos.com)

Meanwhile, a poll this weekend by America Online indicates at least four out of ten users of the Internet service would boycott an artist over their views.

With over two million responses, 41 percent say they’d boycott, 38 percent say they would not, and 19 percent answered “maybe.”


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