Review #224: Fly, Dixie Chicks

Karla Clifton
3 min readJan 12, 2022

#224: Fly, Dixie Chicks

I first encountered the Dixie Chicks on an episode of The Simpsons, when they make a brief but delightful appearance in Season 19. “I’m gonna buy me a clock radio!”

Nowadays, they go by the Chicks, which I fully respect. That said, they were the D. Chicks when Fly came out, so that’s how I’ll refer to them here.

Anyway. I’m testing out a new approach (see Review #222 for details) where I listen to each album I review several times over. (You may say, “Karla, that was obviously what you should have done.” To which I say, “Graduate school.”) I think the genre that’s going to benefit the most from this methodology is country music, which I have yet to overcome my deep resistance to. Case in point: The Dixie Chicks.

What surprised me the most was how 2000s they sound. This was released in 1999, right on the cusp of the new millennium, and I believe that it’s the natural bridge between Shania Twain’s Come On Over (1993, #300 on the list) and Avril Lavigne’s Let Go (2002, NOWHERE on the list.). I mean, “Some Days You Gotta Dance” is basically the Chicks’ answer to Shania’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman.”

Fiddles open up into an extremely 2000s-style guitar (I’m searching for a better term but there just is none) on “Ready to Run.” The criminally catchy “If I Fall You’re Going Down With Me” is country-crossed-with-Michelle-Branch.

But it wasn’t until the amazing vignette “Goodbye Earl” that I became truly won over, where two woman murder someone and end up selling Tennessee ham and strawberry jam together. If that song was written in 2022, they would have gotten married, too.

Natalie Maines’ snarls on that one and on “Sin Wagon,” where they interpolate “I’ll Fly Away” by The Humbard Family and “Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition” by Frank Loesser. (Which, by the way, were both released in the 1940s.) (I know I said I wasn’t going to go out of my way to do research, but I fell into a Dixie Chicks hole this weekend. They’re really cool!)

Some songs I only started to appreciate once I’d listened a few times — “Hello Mr. Heartache” is really twangy, and “Don’t Waste Your Heart” is firmly in the realm of barnyard dances. But eventually I appreciated the contrast between the pop/rock songs and the down-home country ballads. And I’m obsessed with Natalie Maines’ voice. The delicate closer “Let Him Fly” is just sparse acoustic guitar and nail-on-the-head harmonies.

(Another brief digression: Did you know she wasn’t the original lead singer?? Look up pictures of the original Dixie Chicks and be amazed.)

One last thing I found notable: My boyfriend prefers the Dixie Chicks to Madonna. Would love to hear others’ thoughts on this.

Other Highlights: “Hole in My Head” crosses NIN with a 12-bar blues. I keep catching myself singing “Cold Day In July” to myself. “Without You” and “Heartbreak Town” are also fun.

Honorable Mentions: “Cowboy Take Me Away” was a hit that I just don’t like very much. Maybe I just don’t like cowboys.


Review #223: Imagine, John Lennon

Review #225: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco