Dixie Chicks’ new ‘Gaslighter’ video and lyrics have a gaslighting issue of their own

Still shot from Dixie Chicks' Gaslighter video/YouTube
Still shot from Dixie Chick’s ‘Gaslighter’ video. (via YouTube)

The Dixie Chicks have finally released a single from their new album due out in May, and after a couple listens, I concluded the song lyrics coupled with the video,  have a gaslighting issue of their own.

I’m still scratching my head over lead singer Natalie Maines’ hipster angst, and it isn’t because she dissed then-president George W. Bush when she took the stage in London all those years ago.  When Maines criticized Bush for going to war, I understood her passion. What I didn’t understand was something she shared with most media, namely amnesia over who declared intent for regime change in Iraq to begin with. That would be former president Bill Clinton who signed the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998. I figure if you are going to hold one accountable, you should apply the same standard to other presidents.

You can look at the lyrics to the “Gaslighter” single posted online, and on the surface, it seems like Maines is going for her inner Taylor Swift back in the day when Swift was writing teen fury songs over failed romances.

Thing is, with the Dixie Chicks’ video, the visuals do little to support the narrative in the song lyrics. Video from a Rockwellian period in America interspersed with political footage from decades in the past, evokes pure politics. That’s fine by me, but it just feels as though they’re continuing to exploit controversy, possibly in the interest of album sales. I like honesty, and if you’re going to be political, just come right out and admit it.

The new song—the album itself is titled Gaslighter—lacks the roots country feel of the band’s past music, music I enjoyed even after Ms. Maines bashed the US president as she stood on the stage in London. It’s so ironic, if you think about the history of the United Kingdom. There’s plenty of fodder for criticism there, and the UK isn’t alone. There is no country on the face of this planet where a purity test for righteousness could pass muster.

The human condition is what it is, dating to antiquity, and it is an equal opportunity entity shared across all races and creeds.

I didn’t hold Maines’ political statements against her or her bandmates. I still like a lot of their music. The new single “Gaslighter”, however, does nothing for me, although I did perceive one passage as a perfect metaphor for how I feel every April when my husband and I turn over sizable amounts of money to the federal government:

“You thought I wouldn’t see it if you put it in my face
Give you all my money you’ll gladly walk away
You think it’s justifiable I think it’s pretty cruel”

Maines said the song was inspired by the breakup of her second marriage, but I disagree with a critic I often agree with at Saving Country Music. Trigger, the blogger who reviewed the song, said this:

“But the song “Gaslighter” does not have a political heart to it really at all, except possibly in subtle undertones which are forgivable, if not beneficial by allowing the song’s meaning and message to connect with more people.”

The song indeed has a political heart illustrated richly with video images.

There’s another issue with the SCM review. The writer notes Ms. Maines’ First Amendment rights. Of course we all hold those rights, but it’s the government that the First Amendment limits. There are no limits on speech except those limits imposed by society and culture, and right now, the outlook on that is very grim in my opinion, considering the rampant “cancel culture” attacking anyone who goes against the status quo established by a very powerful legacy media working in tandem with an entrenched political apparatchik.

I don’t see “Gaslighter” as country. It sounds like pop and it comes off as bad Taylor Swift. Ironically, I love the Dixie Chicks’ voices so much, I really wish I could like what I heard. But to claim this isn’t political is—well, just to be honest—pretty solid gaslighting.

I don’t write much politics here, but when you have a work of art that’s political, there’s no way to dodge the bullet.

(Kay B. Day/March 10, 2020)

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