The first time I heard "I Can Love You Better". I was riding home with a friend when it came on the radio and I asked who it was.
The Dixie Chicks.
The name. The sound. The unapologetic fun.
I went to Walmart the next day and bought Wide Open Spaces... on cassette tape.
I knew the words to every song within a week and can still sing them in my sleep. I sang the title track all the way to college.
She needs wide open spaces ... room to make her big mistakes.
It was my anthem - probably always will be - along with every other Southern girl who graduated from high school in the late 90s.
Fly was no different and quickly becoming the soundtrack of my life. I still remember my high school boyfriend yelling for me to "come listen to this song!" the first time we played Goodbye Earl. I also remember my college rebound from aforementioned high school boyfriend declaring Cowboy Take Me Away as "our song."
I've seen The Dixie Chicks in concert four times and on every tour. The Fly Tour by myself my freshman year because I didn't have a lot of friends yet. The Top of the World Tour (post-controversy) my senior year with a group of now lifelong friends.
The controversy was still fresh and I remember girls younger than me holding neon pink signs that declared "Natalie for president." I had written an editorial for my college paper arguing that no one should care about the group's political beliefs because they were "just" musicians.
Looking back it wasn't how I really felt, but I thought it was my strongest argument and I wanted everyone to just leave. my chicks. alone.
I was young and I wanted everything to go back to the way it was. When the Chicks were triumphant and the world was full of promise.
I got married. I went to law school. My life got more complex, but things change and things stay the same - when Taking the Long Way came out I loved it without reservation.
My husband and I bought tickets to see the Chicks in Philly. When Natalie performed Not Ready to make Nice, I thought my skin was going to jump off my body her emotion was so electric. I had not and have not experienced anything at a concert like that performance.
When the documentary Shut Up and Sing came out, I felt validated in the love I had devoted to these three women from the beginning.
They were brave and funny and smart and they loved each other unconditionally.
I would be lying if I said I didn't want more Dixie Chicks music. I do.
I bought the Courtyard Hounds album and loved it. Mother is insanely good.
Still, those three voices only tug a certain string in my heart when they join together in harmony.
And - sweet baby Jesus - it looks like that harmony is hitting the states next summer.
Welcome back, girls. My life has changed ALOT in the past ten years, but my devotion to you hasn't.
I cannot WAIT.