A student just played me the new Dixie Chicks song, their first in 12 years. It’s blown my head apart. So inspirational. I appreciate that the song (‘Gaslighter’) may well be about Natalie Maines’ ex-husband but I am certain I am not the only one who will take it in a much broader context to refer to America’s Gaslighter-In-Chief, Donald Trump.
First, people who gaslight tell obvious lies. You know that they are lying. The issue is how they are lying with such ease. The gaslighter is setting up an abusive pattern. You begin to question everything and become uncertain of the simplest matters. This self-doubt is exactly what the gaslighter wants.
Again, you know they said what they said. However, they completely deny ever saying it. The gaslighter may push the point and ask you to ‘prove it,’ knowing that you only have your memory of the conversation that they are denying happened. It starts to make you question your memory and your reality. You begin to wonder if the gaslighter is right, maybe they didn’t really ever say what you remember. Consequently, more and more often, you question your reality and accept theirs.
Notably, a person who gaslights talks and talks. However, their words mean nothing. Therefore, it is important to look at what they are doing. The issues lie in their abusive actions towards the victim.
I mean I’d mention the gorgeous harmonies – and man, they are gorgeous – and the driving beat, but that’s kind of beside the point, isn’t it?
P.S. The volume is best pushed as loud as you can go.
What ruined Dixie Chicks?
On March 10, 2003, during a London concert, nine days before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, lead vocalist Maines told the audience: “We don’t want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States (George W. Bush) is from Texas”, which garnered a positive reaction from the British audience but led to a contrasting negative reaction and ensuing boycotts in the United States, where talk shows denounced the band, their albums were discarded in public protest and corporate broadcasting networks blacklisted them for the remainder of the Bush years.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic in which a person, to gain power and control, plants seeds of uncertainty in the victim. The self-doubt and constant scepticism slowly and meticulously cause the individual to question their reality.
Perhaps the best way to examine this inherently abusive behaviour is to go straight to the source, the 1944 film Gaslight. The film tells a story of a husband systematically brainwashing his wife to the point that she legitimately thinks she is going insane. The wife fights to protect her identity all while her husband viciously tries to take it away.
While it never disappeared, over seven decades later, gaslighting has fully resurfaced in the dating world. Additionally, the term has resurfaced recently in some online publications to describe President Trump.
The last time the Dixie Chicks reinvented themselves, it was hard to know what would come next. On their most recent album, 2006’s Taking the Long Way, the country trio wrote about being spurned by their industry, faced with uncertainty at the point when most bands on their level are finding career equilibrium. “They say time heals everything,” Natalie Maines sang in the mammoth single ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’, “but I’m still waiting.” They would continue waiting: After the tour for that album, they took a decade-plus hiatus from releasing new music together, during which their influence loomed larger than ever and their fight against a misogynist industry was echoed by a new generation of singer-songwriters.
Best New Track, Pitchfork
Sixteen Years Later, Country Radio Is Still Mad at the Dixie Chicks
Their appearance on Taylor Swift’s “Soon You’ll Get Better” is prompting angry comments and calls from radio listeners still upset about their anti-Iraq-War stance.
Considering all the ground that the Dixie Chicks broke, it’s almost fitting that they also pioneered getting cancelled in the digital age. But their refusal to back down didn’t just impact their legacy; it impacted how we see cancellation itself. Through their actions, the Dixie Chicks asserted that fandom isn’t ownership and that you can’t control someone’s thoughts just because you buy their albums or see their movies (or refuse to buy their albums or see their movies). They asserted their rights to be complex human beings and not live up to whatever image their fans projected. It was an incredibly risky statement to make. But in the end, it paid off, for them, and for everyone else who refuses to shut up and sing.
The Dixie Chicks Were Cancelled For Criticizing The President. Now, They’re Heroes.
‘Gaslighter’ conjures Dixie Chicks standbys like ‘Not Ready To Make Nice’ and ‘The Long Way Around’, songs that turn the group’s own personal turmoils into layered pop texts. The trio’s ‘Gaslighter’ video, with its unsubtle political and historical imagery, uses Maines’ travails as a template for decades of personal and collective national pain.
You Definitely Need to Hear This New Dixie Chicks Song
Little known fact: the producer on the new Dixie Chicks album Jack Antonoff is a huge Daniel Johnston fan. (He also produced Taylor Swift’s seismic ‘Out Of The Woods’ and Lorde. Respect.)