By: Alyssa Trybus

The song “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice” was released in 2006 in the height of George W. Bush’s presidency. Since the start of this semester I have been intrigued with this song in particular due to my exposure to it when it first came out. I specifically remember a time watching best video countdown on MTV with my mother and this song came on. I was a little too young to grasp the political and social context of this song at the time, but my mom had an informed opinion of her own. She made a comment about the Dixie Chicks starting political conversation against a president that my family supported, and I immediately had a negative feeling towards the group. I was young and very impressionable, and I sided with my mother without the knowledge to make a judgement of my own. Studying this song as a protest anthem, I hope to collect all of the background information that I didn’t have before, and make my own judgement about the song.

Some basic research has brought me to a greater understanding of the song. The Dixie Chicks lead singer, Natalie Maines , made a statement saying, Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” She was not apologetic for this comment, saying that it was very much intended to be an insult and that she has said much worse. With the release of the song’s music video came even more harsh criticism and pushback from Dixie Chicks’ fans.

I think this song will naturally lead me to study the conservative nature of country music, and push me to look for more liberal pieces in this genre. Country music stations were refusing to play Dixie Chicks, after Maines publicly spoke out about President Bush, and they were receiving very hateful feedback from fans. The negativity went so far as the group receiving death threats, leading to increased security at concerts and a constant level of fear. I think that a lot of this upheaval occurred because of the genre, and that if the song wasn’t a country song it would have been received better by its audience. When asked if she considered how it would affect the group’s fan base, Maines said, “We don’t make decisions based on that. We don’t go, ‘OK, our fans are in the red states, so I’m going to play a red, white and blue guitar and put on my I Love Bush T-shirt. We’re not like that because we’re not politicians. We’re musicians.”

This song means a lot to me as I get older and shape my own opinions rather than simply following what my parents think and do. I am at the age where I am forming my own beliefs that sometimes coincide with what I have grown up around, but sometimes do not. This song is an example of a time that I formed an opinion based primarily off of what I was told by someone else. Now that I am learning about the context and situation, I can come to a fuller understanding of where The Dixie Chicks were coming from. It does not matter to me whether I agree or disagree with Maines’ statement and what the song stands for , but I want to try to see it all from a different perspective than I had before.

I am willing to dissect this song and listen to it repeatedly in order for me to come to a full understanding of the context and intended message so that I can make a judgement for myself as to what it all means.I always shy away from the topic of politics, but I won’t be able to avoid it when analyzing “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice” and it’s message. This is my biggest concern for the project, but I am hoping to approach it from a very neutral standpoint to produce well-informed and unbiased work.