Friday, June 02, 2006

Who's backing down now, Dixie Chickies?

I was flipping through the radio dial and paused on my favorite country music station when the refrain of the Dixie Chicks' latest single, "Not Ready to Make Nice," came through the speakers. I didn't think much about it, but I soon learned it was just a snippet of a song as part of a commercial for Chicks' concert tickets going on sale.

It struck me as odd because of all the reported bad blood between the Chicks and country radio (I wrote about the controversy in this post, if you haven't been following it). I don't know if KWJJ, The Wolf-FM, has been playing anything off the Dixie Chicks new album, but station executives apparently didn't have any qualms about taking money for a commercial promoting the concert.

I really like the station, but I just haven't been in much of a country phase, so I haven't had The Wolf tuned in much of late. Thus I have no clue if they've been playing the new Chicks album or not. The station does have a survey on their Web site asking if they should play the new CD, which leads me to believe they haven't been playing it, but are thinking about it. Maybe the fact that the album, "Taking the Long Way," is No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and Billboard Country Album charts after its first week of release has the station ready to reconsider. If you're curious, response to the poll is leaning 53 percent to 47 percent in favor of playing the CD. The station does list the Dixie Chicks on its artist list on its Web site.

Anyway, like I said, I've been listening to this other station lately, KYCH Charlie FM. (By the way, what's the deal with all these cutesy radio stations names that barely have any relation whatsoever to their station call letters? How do you get The Wolf out of KWJJ or Charlie out of KYCH?) The station plays an interesting mix of music. They call it random. And it's sort of like listening to an iPod, liberally loaded with music from from a wide range of popular styles and time periods, but not stuff you hear much on radio these days. Sort of like mix to the max. A sample from the stations playlist this evening includes: "The Sweetest Thing" by U2, "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright, "I Hate Myself for Loving" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, "Wanna be Startin' Somethin'" by Michael Jackson and "I Want to Know" by Foreigner.

But lately I've been getting bored with that too, so I've been flipping around the dial.

This afternoon, on my way home from work, I was flipping around the dial again and landed on The Wolf again, and the afternoon drivetime DJ Scot Simon had a call-in contest where the winner could choice between Dixie Chicks concert tickets or movie tickets to see "The Break-Up," the new Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Anniston flick and tickets to the Woodburn Dragstrip. Ah, the drag races, now that's some redneck heaven for ya! Simon said since he didn't know how people were feeling about this whole Dixie Chick thing, he wanted to offer callers a choice of prizes.

You win the contest and you take the concert tickets, right? I tried calling in, because I knew the answer to his little trivia question, but couldn't get through. The woman who did and won the contest -- you guessed it -- took the movie tickets.

Tickets for the Dixie Chicks concert go on sale tomorrow morning. Why they are going on sale June 3 for a November 9 concert? Who knows. Maybe the group, and or their concert promoter, want to know early whether this tour is even gonna fly. Who the hell knows what might come up on my personal agenda between now and November? And if I buy tickets now, do I set up a date now for that concert? Hell, I could be three for four women down the relationship road by November (never mind the fact that I haven't dated in two years. Well, I did take one woman to another concert last fall, and we did end up in bed together, but that's a whole 'nother story).

I still haven't made up my mind if I'll buy tickets for the Dixie Chicks concert. Not because of the whole who-do-I-ask debate, but finances are a little tight right now. So, I might have to pass. And I think if I don't buy now it will be too late. I bet the show sells out.

Country radio and the larger country music industry machine may not have made up its mind yet whether to allow the Dixie Chicks back into the fold. And the Dixie Chicks are sure making noises like they don't really want back. But the fact of the matter is, the group has a country-based sound. It is what it is and they are what they are, whether industry execs wearing ties, or radio programmers wearing whatever the fuck they wear, or hicks with W bumper stickers on the bumper of the pickup trucks choose to accept it. In the great tradition of the U.S. economy, the market will decide who buys what. That's free enterprise at work. And that's a concept any self-respecting Republican has got to love.

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