Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shut Up and Sing!

Shut Up and Sing!
I missed this movie while it was in the theatres due to my traveling schedule, and have been pining to see it ever since. For those of you who don’t know the story, it is the story of what happened to the Dixie Chicks after their lead singer, Natalie Maines, stated in front of a sold-out London audience, that they were ashamed that the President of the United States was from Texas. And then…. the fire started. And it burned… and burned….

Thank God for Netflix, because this documentary was one of the first things I ordered. As I write this, it is 4am and I am so motivated and inspired by what I just watched that I cannot sleep. I feel like I could write an entire album right now. I am so proud to be both a woman and a musician that I am not even sure I can accurately express it into words, but I am going to try.

First off, I would like to state that these 3 women, (Natalie Maines, Marty Maguire, & Emily Robison) are strong-slated heroes of mine. They are beautiful, articulate, smart and amazing musician/songwriters. After a mere 10 second comment, they were served death threats, hate mail, were banned from many radio stations and slandered all over the news, yet they stuck together with their heads held high with their instruments in the air and continued to write and perform. I have had the opportunity to go overseas many times since Clinton left office, and I will tell you that as soon as people find out you are American, you have a lot to answer for. Most countries think we are all self-seeking assholes and that Bush was and is a completely ignorant, intellectually-challenged, power-hungry idiot. That is a fact, not my opinion, from my many visits overseas, and the day that the Dixie Chicks played London, London was having the biggest war protest against American involvement the country had ever seen. (You are allowed to pass judgement on the appropriate way to handle such an uncomfortable situation when you have experienced it yourself.) When the band returned to The States,they were shown a death threat stating that Natalie would be shot in Dallas the day of their Dallas performance and they did not cancel the show. They took all security precautions, and took the stage scared as hell. You could tell from the pre-performance footage that Natalie had little to no blood in her face. You could see it in her eyes that she was scared and didn’t know if she would survive the entire set. Now, let me explain something to you. If you are brave enough to take the stage and sing your truth after someone told you that they would kill you for doing so…? You are a hero. You are a warrior and a visionary. This is music. Music is meant to be expressive and celebratory. These women never planned on being involved in politics, yet they were hurled straight into the lion’s den. On some plane though, I have always considered our musicians to be the young people’s politicians, because they have a public voice and openly express their opinions, allowing many to live vicariously through them. This also partially explains the strong bond between fans and their favorite bands. Try and censor or take away someone’s favorite band, and it is like you are trying to take away their voice. Fox, Cumulus and several right-wing organizations tried to take away the Dixie Chicks’ voice.

Now, let’s talk about the first amendment of The Constitution of The United States of America. It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Marty Maguire - “It’s easy for people to feel a sense of anonymity behind their computer and write ugly things and hateful things and you know, a lot of that stuff you don’t take seriously, but when somebody hates you so much for what you say that they want to kill you…..”

I cannot express how vitally important it is for us to take every measure necessary to protect our Constitutional rights, ESPECIALLY the first amendment. I don’t care what your political affiliation is, just educate yourself, keep an open mind and don’t believe everything you see or hear on tv. I have friends of all political affiliations, and my political views are a mish-mash of a little bit of everything. I consider myself to be incredibly open-minded, while not being afraid to call ‘bullshit’, and I have a Ron Paul sticker on the back of my van. I believe Voltaire said it best when he said, “I may not agree with that which you say,…but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I consider someone to be civilized when they are emotionally and mentally mature enough to agree to disagree. I, personally, do not associate myself with individuals that I consider to be intolerant or uncivilized. I have fans that come from all political backgrounds and I do not judge their views, I just want to bring more light into their lives. I have been given a gift and it is my job to share it. I have received hate mail and threats for the name of my band being Devil Doll, my explicit lyrics, and even opinions I have expressed in interviews. The show goes on. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The people I have helped far outweigh the people who are somehow offended. I truly believe that the reason we are here is to express ourselves, follow our bliss and make known the unknown, and that looks different for everyone. I am not your God, and it is none of my business what excites you, moves you to tears or motivates you to get up in the morning. As long as you have something. Music plays a role in here somewhere for many people. Music has gotten me through times that I thought I could not survive. There are songs that inspire me that you may not be able to stand, and vice versa, but THAT is what makes the world go ‘round. How boring would this place be if everyone all liked the exact same things and dressed the exact same way? No thank you. Let’s defend our right to be different and enjoy this big tossed salad that we live in.

I want to have more faith in people. If we all stand together to protect our Constitutional rights, we will not fall. We can say no to intolerance and ignorance and demand our questions to be answered. We MUST see the bigger picture and protect eachother. How can we stand by and allow a man like Bill O’Reilly to say, live on television, “I think they are the Dixie Twits. These are the dumbest, dumbest bimbos, with due respect, that I have seen, they are foolish women that deserve to be slapped around.” What the fuck?? Seriously?? What kind of fallout happened to him for saying that? Did he get suspended for encouraging physical violence against women? Oh sure, let’s just start teaching everyone to threaten physical violence against anyone who expresses opinions different from our own. Better yet, let’s burn them at the stake. I call BULLSHIT, as well as openly stating that I am embarrassed that Bill O’Reilly is Irish. Toby Keith created and displayed images of Saddam Hussein with his arm around Natalie as a fake cd cover called “The Dixie Duo – Songs of Peace and Love”, while he sang a song about shoving his boot up her ass. Really? Sure, freedom of speech, but it’s aggressive, threatening and no one banned him for saying whatever he wanted. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXPRESSING AN OPINION AND MAKING A THREAT. Are people really that afraid of people who think differently than them? Natalie responded by wearing a shirt onstage that said “FUTK.” Perfect.
Let’s evolve and agree to disagree whenever the occasion arises. Can we perhaps enjoy a good debate, ask why the person feels that way while being open to learning a thing or two, and end it in a handshake? Can we? Can we learn to enjoy and celebrate our differences? Try it and then teach someone else how to do it. Let’s support free-thinking instead of punishing it.We can all learn something from the Dixie Chicks whether you like their music or not. I just bought more of their songs off iTunes, this one being one of them – “Not Ready to Make Nice”
"...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…..
I’m not ready to make nice I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right, I probably wouldn’t if I could
Cause I’m mad as hell, can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should..”

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