NEW YORK, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Legacy Recordings -- Nearly a decade ago, 13-time Grammy Award® and 10-time CMA Award winners the Dixie Chicks became the first (and to date, only) female group in music history to earn two consecutive diamond album certifications by the RIAA, for U.S. sales in excess of 10 million copies each of Wide Open Spaces (released 1998) and Fly (1999). Joel Whitburn ranks the Dixie Chicks – singers, prolific songwriters, and multi-instrumentalists Martie Maguire, Emily Robison and Natalie Maines – among the Top 20 country acts of the '90s and '00s. But the bigger story is their broad populist following across the U.S. and Canada, the UK and Australia, every point on the global compass where country music is played.
This widespread appeal resounds on THE ESSENTIAL DIXIE CHICKS, their first double-CD anthology, covering all four of their studio albums at SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT. In addition to a dozen album tracks and concert favorites, the 30-song set rounds up 18 of their two dozen-plus Billboard country chart hits. Fourteen of these reached the Top 10, a blazing chart record over the course of just five years. This collection includes all six of their #1 country hits: "There's Your Trouble," "Wide Open Spaces," "You Were Mine," "Cowboy Take Me Away," "Without You," and "Travelin' Soldier." It arrives at all physical and digital retail outlets on October 26, 2010, through Open Wide/Columbia/Legacy, a division of Sony Music Entertainment.
"THE ESSENTIAL DIXIE CHICKS gave us the opportunity to put together a collection that spans our career so far," says Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks. "It not only brings together our hit singles to date, but it also represents some of our favorite album tracks, which we still perform in concert. As we move into our second decade with Sony Music, this package is dedicated to all our fans and supporters."
Putting the Dixie Chicks' life and times into historical perspective is a detailed 1,300 word liner notes essay written by Bob Mehr, music editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, and contributing editor for the UK's MOJO magazine. "Exploding into the collective consciousness in the late-'90s, the group shook country music from its pre-millennial doldrums with the force of a gale," he writes. "A veritable revolution wrapped in feather boas and fiddle, colorful camisoles and clawhammer banjo, the Dixie Chicks became an artistic, commercial, and cultural juggernaut of singular importance – first in country, and eventually far beyond."
After three independently released albums in the early '90s with other members, the familiar line-up of the Dixie Chicks (named for Little Feat's song, "Dixie Chicken") – Martie, Emily and Natalie – emerged in the fall of 1997 on the venerable Monument Records, via Columbia Nashville. Their debut single "I Can Love You Better" hit the Top 10 and set the scene for their first major label album in January 1998, Wide Open Spaces, one of the most auspicious new-artist releases in country music history.
Three consecutive #1 hits each held the top spot for multiple weeks (another rarity) – "There's Your Trouble," "Wide Open Spaces," and "You Were Mine." They spent a cumulative 14 months on the singles chart during 1998-99, and it seemed like every two months brought another level of RIAA platinum for Wide Open Spaces. The album spent seven weeks at #1 and 134 weeks overall on the chart. In addition to the latter four titles, THE ESSENTIAL DIXIE CHICKS contains "Tonight The Heartache's On Me" and their cover of Bonnie Raitt's "Give It Up Or Let Me Go."
At the Grammys, the Dixie Chicks took home the Best Country Album award, while "There's Your Trouble" won Best Country Performance, Duo/Group. Embraced by the Nashville music establishment, they received the CMA's Horizon Award for 1998, and were named Vocal Group of the Year for 1998 and '99, with "Wide Open Spaces" winning both Single of the Year and Music Video of the Year for '99. This reception was echoed by the 1999 Billboard Music Awards (Country Album of the Year, Country Duo/Group of the Year, Country Artist of the Year); and topped off by Dick Clark's American Music Awards, who named them Favorite New Country Artist.
They came back strong that summer of '99 with the #2 single "Ready To Run," from Julia Roberts' Runaway Bride movie soundtrack on Columbia. In a bold move, the late-August release of their long-awaited new album (after 19 months), Fly – which debuted at #1 – was accompanied by five single releases the same week in September. "Cowboy Take Me Away" took its time and reached #1 five months later in February 2000, during the course of its record-setting 41-week chart run. "Without You" hit #1 in January 2001 (32 weeks on the chart). "Goodbye Earl" (written by the late Dennis Linde, also 32 weeks on the chart) gave the Dixie Chicks their first RIAA gold single.
"Sin Wagon," "Heartbreak Town" (written by Darrell Scott), and "Some Days You Gotta Dance" kept the string of hit singles going until well into the spring of 2002. They contributed to the phenomenal 36 weeks that Fly spent at #1 during 1999-2000, one of the Top 4 longest-running #1 albums in the history of the Country Albums chart, which Billboard began compiling in 1964. THE ESSENTIAL DIXIE CHICKS adds Fly's evocative closing track, "Let Him Fly," (described by Mehr as "an emotionally complex blues that found strength in the act of moving on"), the first of the Dixie Chicks' several cuts by Texas songwriter Patti Griffin.
Fly spent 131 weeks (two and half years!) on the chart, as did its roster of singles. At the 2000 Grammys, Fly walked away with Best Country Album (for the second consecutive year) and "Ready To Run" won Best Country Performance, Duo/Group (for a second consecutive year). The CMA's were even more generous – as Album of the Year went to the Dixie Chicks, along with Vocal Group of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. Music Video of the Year went to "Goodbye Earl," whose homage to B-movies featured the high-profile cast of Dennis Franz (as the abusive Earl, who gets his come-uppance but good), Jane Krakowski, Lauren Holly, Adrian Pasdar (who wed Natalie in 2000), Michael DeLuise, and a cameo by director Evan Bernard.
In anticipation of the next album, a new single arrived in January 2002, the #1 "Travelin' Soldier," written by Texas songwriter Bruce Robison (whose brother Charlie was married to Emily from 1999 to 2008). The next single came in May, "Long Time Gone" (another Darrell Scott cut), which hit #2 country and became the Dixie Chicks' first Top 10 entry on the Hot 100. The same numbers – #2 country/ #7 pop – greeted the next single, their cover of Stevie Nicks' Fleetwood Mac classic, "Landslide."
The long-delayed album finally made it out of the gate in August, simply titled Home, on the group's new Open Wide imprint via Columbia. In addition to the advance singles and "White Trash Wedding," the album also contained two by Patti Griffin ("Top Of the World," "Truth No. 2"), and "I Believe In Love" (co-written with Marty Stuart). To no one's surprise, Home debuted at #1 and stayed right there (with a few interruptions) for 19 weeks, until the fateful month of April 2003, when "a seemingly innocuous anti-war comment by Maines on a London stage in 2003 [turned] into a tempest," as Mehr writes. Introducing "Travelin' Soldier" on the first night of their Top Of the World Tour, 10 days before the March 20th invasion of Iraq, Natalie's criticism of President Bush sent shock waves 'round the world.
But despite a written apology to Mr. Bush, the country music establishment and others in the media virtually blacklisted the Dixie Chicks. Still, the group stood their ground and Home garnered an impressive 6x-platinum sales in the U.S. Recording Academy voters showed their support as the album generated four Grammy Awards®: Best Country Album (shared with producer Lloyd Maines, Natalie's father and a legendary Texas musician and songwriter in his own right), Best Country Performance by a Duo/Group ("Long Time Gone"), Best Country Instrumental Performance ("Lil' Jack Slade"), and (in 2005) Best Country Performance by a Duo/Group again for "Top of the World." The Dixie Chicks went on to win American Music Awards for Favorite Country Band and Favorite Country Album.
After the pre-Christmas '03 release of the interim Top Of the World Tour Live album, it was two and a half years before the world saw a new Dixie Chicks album. They went to the West Coast to work with renowned producer Rick Rubin on the aptly-titled Taking The Long Way, finally released in May 2006. In the intervening years, the Dixie Chicks had acquired new collaborators on the order of the Jayhawks' Gary Louis ("Bitter End," "Everybody Knows"), Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowded House ("Silent House"), and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ("Lubbock Or Leave It"), among others. THE ESSENTIAL DIXIE CHICKS includes those tracks, plus "Not Ready To Make Nice," "The Long Way Round," "Easy Silence," and "Lullaby," all original compositions by Maguire, Maines and Robison.
Taking The Long Way spent 83 weeks on the chart (including 9 weeks at #1), and vindication was sweetly served up at the 2007 Grammy Awards ceremony. Joan Baez, who was being honored with the Grammy's Lifetime Achievement Award that night, and who knew a thing or two about political backlash during the course of her career, was chosen to introduce the Dixie Chicks' performance. It was a bittersweet happy ending, as they came out the night's big winners and Taking The Long Way generated five Grammy Awards®, for Album of the Year and Best Country Album, with "Not Ready To Make Nice" taking Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and (for the fifth time in nine years) Best Country Performance by a Duo/Group.
As Mehr concludes, "The Grammy triumph served as a marker, a closing flourish to the first part of the band's career. Certainly, there are more chapters to be written in the Dixie Chicks' remarkable tale. And the music that will soundtrack the rest of the journey will undoubtedly be, as this compilation's title notes, Essential."
THE ESSENTIAL DIXIE CHICKS
(Open Wide/Columbia/Legacy 88697 75986 2)
Disc One – Selections: 1. Not Ready To Make Nice (D, Country #36) * 2. The Long Way Round (D) * 3. Easy Silence (D) * 4. Lubbock Or Leave It (D) * 5. Bitter End (D) * 6. Silent House (D) * 7. Lullaby (D) * 8. Everybody Knows (D, Country #45) * 9. Long Time Gone (C, Country #2, Hot 100 #7) * 10. Travelin' Soldier (C, Country #1) * 11. Landslide (C, Country #2, Hot 100 #7) * 12. Lil' Jack Slade (C) * 13. Truth No. 2 (C) * 14. White Trash Wedding (C, Country #56) * 15. Top Of The World (C).
Disc Two – Selections: 1. Ready To Run (B, Country #2) * 2. Cowboy Take Me Away (B, Country #1) * 3. Goodbye Earl (B, Country #13) * 4. Some Days You Gotta Dance (B, Country #7) * 5. Heartbreak Town (B, Country #23) * 6. Sin Wagon (B, Country #52) * 7. Without You (B, Country #1) * 8. Let Him Fly (B) * 9. Wide Open Spaces (A, Country #1) * 10. There's Your Trouble (A, Country #1) * 11. You Were Mine (A, Country #1) * 12. I Can Love You Better (A, Country #7) * 13. Tonight The Heartache's On Me (A, Country #6) * 14. Give It Up Or Let Me Go (A) * 15. I Believe In Love (C).
Note: Country indicates Billboard Top Country Songs chart peak number.
Index to albums:
A – from Wide Open Spaces (originally released January 1998, as Monument 68195)
B – from Fly (originally released August 1999, as Monument 69678)
C – from Home (originally released August 2002, as Monument 86840)
D – from Taking The Long Way (originally released May 2006, as Columbia 80739)
SOURCE Legacy Recordings