Shut Up and Sing
The Dixie Chicks, comprising of Emily Robison, Martie Maguire and Natalie Maines, were the largest selling female group in America and in 2003 were riding high on a wave of success. This success was all the more amazing as they were firmly rooted in the Country Music genre.
Things were about to change for the Dixie Chicks however.
On March 10, 2003, at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire theatre in London, in a break between songs, Natalie Maines connected with the audience with the following statement:
‘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 that the President of the United States is from Texas.’
The crowd loved it, and thus the first concert of their British tour was a huge success.
Then the Guardian printed the quote in their review of the concert, shortly afterwards the American media picked up on it and over night the Dixie Chicks lost most of their loyal fans and all support form the Country Music industry, including radio, evaporated.
Shut Up & Sing follows the Dixie Chicks from just before that infamous concert, right through years of backlash and essentially career failure, right up to the point where they decide to release a new album, this time not so much a Country album and one with some very personal lyrics that showcased how strong these Chicks were.
It’ a compelling documentary, that really highlights the ugly side of politics, with some one eyed American’s coming up with statements that give Shut Up & Sing a definite Michael Moore feel, with one guy expressing; ‘Freedom of speech is fine, as long as you don’t do it in public’ ‘and certainly not overseas’.
Another thing that the documentary shows is how much work was done by the Dixie Chicks manager – he is portrayed as an amazing guy, who helped keep the Chicks focused, together and sane.
It is a pity however, that Shut Up & Sing seems to run out of steam, rather than end on a strong note. No real mention is made of where the Chicks are, apart from initially low-ticket sales of their Accidents & Accusations Tour.
If the documentary could have waited another year, then it could have been concluded on a strong note with the Chicks clean sweep of the Grammys.
Food for thought
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better
Shut up and sing or my life will be over
-Dixie Chicks, Not Ready to Make Nice
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: M – Contains Offensive Language & Sexual References.
Duration: 87 mins.
Genre: Music, Documentary, Music Documentary, Culture & Society.
Director: Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck.
Release Date: Available Now.