Dixie Chicks, “The Long Way Around”

“The Long Way Around” opens and is, in some ways, the title trackdixiechicks of The Dixie Chicks beloved, multi-Grammy award winning, Rick-Rubin produced Taking The Long Way record. Or it would be a title track, except that the title is different – and, in fact, better. I hate gerund title like Taking The Long Way. “The Long Way Around” is more fearsome, robust, confident, wise. It also is a statement and a melody that Taking The Long Way doesn’t match, even for a minute, though many minutes on Taking The Long Way are truly fantastic. I don’t quite want to talk about why I find it so beautiful, so much more honest and direct than the Chicks’ songs that were specified for Country radio (although, it is much more beautiful and much more honest than, say, “You Were Mine” or “Goodbye Earl”). I want to talk about the times that come to mind when I hear it now and begin smiling. I think back to a house I lived 3 ½ years ago in Boulder with several friends, though they would probably not recognize the song when its signature, simple guitar strum begins. I used to walk everywhere with my iPod then, across town, which isn’t large exactly, but I lived in South Boulder and would walk for quite a bit. Then, because I played “The Long Way Around” so much, it would occasionally hit me that I was a 24 year old man who walked around town listening to Dixie Chicks, and how this probably didn’t entitle me to any special thoughts about myself. Regardless, the song is about engendering special thoughts to your experience, your peculiarity, to the notion of never following. Natalie Maines makes a broad swipe at her own fan base, truly, lumping her “friends from high school” who “married their high school boyfriends” and “moved into houses/ in the same zip codes where their parents live.” She could never follow. I too am nowhere near my parents zip code, but I haven’t done what the Dixie Chicks have done career wise. So be it. A line that sticks out to me, still, forever, is the line in the bridge in which Maines, who had dealt with igniting a country firestorm for blandly criticizing President Bush, says simply “It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself/ Guess I could have made it easier on myself/ But I could never follow.” Then, followed up with the a vocal tic that places her vocals amongst Country’s greats – the Patsys

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