The Dixie Chicks may have been under the radar for over a decade, but no one has forgotten about them. And of course, no fan could ever forget the band’s biggest pop hit in the US to date, “Not Ready To Make Nice.”
Released in 2006 off the band’s studio album, Taking the Long Way, “Not Ready To Make Nice” was Dixie Chicks’ only song to be certified Double Platinum. Though it only peaked at No. 36 on US Hot Country Songs, it was a crossover success as it reached No. 4 on US Billboard Hot 100.
The song also won big during the 2007 Grammy Awards, bringing home Song of the Year, including Record of the Year, and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
The Controversial Story Behind The Song
Written by the Dixie Chicks’ band members and Dan Wilson of the group Semisonic, “Not Ready To Make Nice” finds Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, and Martie Maguire standing up for themselves and refusing to back down from their statements.
This was after Maines made a critical comment about American President George W. Bush in 2003 during a performance in a concert in London, United Kingdom. In connection with the impending invasion of Iraq, lead vocalist Maines said, “…we don’t want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”
Controversy has since erupted after such a remark, and the Dixie Chicks were dropped from playlists at several radio stations. They were then subjected to attacks on their character, even death threats.
Taking the Long Way was the band’s first studio album released following the controversy. The band’s reaction then became a central theme of some of the songs in the album. Most notable among them is “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
“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,” the song goes.
Wilson had to drive from Los Angeles to Santa Monica to make this collaboration possible. While on his way, he was thinking up an idea for the song called “Undivided,” which would lead the trio singing about the things that could perhaps unite Americans. When Wilson finally shared his idea during the first songwriting session, Maines asked, “Does that mean that in the song, we would have to forgive all the people that screwed us?” – to which Wilson replied, “For the song, maybe,”
He got a big “nope” from Maines.
“We tried to write about the incident a few times, but you get nervous that you’re being too preachy or too victimized or too nonchalant,” Maines recalled. “Dan came in with an idea that was some kind of concession, more ‘can’t we all just get along?’ and I said, nope, I can’t say that, can’t do it. And we talked about it, and he said, what about ‘I’m not ready to make nice?'”
Maines added, “This album was therapy. To write these songs allowed me to find peace with everything and move on.”
“The stakes were definitely higher on that song. We knew it was special because it was so autobiographical, and we had to get it right. We’ve all gone through so many emotions about the incident. And once we had this song done, it freed us up to do the rest of the album without that burden,” Robison also said.
Now that more than a decade has passed and the dust has finally settled, perhaps the Dixie Chicks will be able to take back their spot in country music. You can watch their performance of “Not Ready To Make Nice.”