The Dixie Chicks and The Eagles? Yes, please!
Ask anyone who knew me in college and they will tell you my favorite band was without a doubt The Dixie Chicks. I had all their albums, knew all their songs, learned them on guitar and sang them at karaoke. I had seen them on every tour they had. Safe to say, I was a huge fan. Still am, of course, but the fact that they haven’t released in album in five years makes it a little difficult to keep them fresh in my mind. But they’re always there and their music is always with me. So as an avid, semi-obsessed fan, when I found out I had a chance to interview Natalie Maines, I immediately jumped at the opportunity, regardless of the fact that I have never had an official sit-down interview with anyone before. A minor detail I would work out later. This was Natalie friggin’ Maines! And to add to it, I was going to interview her side by side with Glenn Frey from the Eagles. Yup, little ol’ me was going to be in the presence of musical greatness. The reason for this interviewed taylor-made for me? The Dixie Chicks and The Eagles are going out on tour together this summer. Man, that’s gonna be one killer show.
So, truth be told, I walked into the interview absolutely terrified. Butterflies and all that. Since this was my very first sit-down interview, I had no idea what to expect. But after walking into the room, I introduce myself, took my seat directly across from them and immediately felt right at home. It ended up being more of a conversation amongst three music lovers than an ‘interview.’ Before the interview started, I told Natalie how I’d never missed a Dixie Chicks concert whenever they were in LA or Orange County. After that, I informed Glenn that the first song I ever learned to play on the guitar was “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles. He said that means I “started out with true greatness.” And then I blushed, feeling a “h’yuck, aw shucks” moment coming on.
I started off the interview asking what brought these two powerhouse acts together and who contacted who. Glenn responded saying that they first reached out to the Chicks and were fans of theirs.
“I’m just glad that it’s THEIR tour. They handle all the decision making and the pre-production sort of stuff. That’s the stuff that can be very taxing. So I love when we get invited on someone else’s tour,” said Natalie.
After asking how the Eagles have influenced her musically, Natalie told me that she grew up listening to the Eagles and that there were very few bands that bridged the gap between kids and adults. The Eagles was one of those bands.
After asking Natalie if she was nervous about returning to the stage after a four-year break from touring, she said she was more excited then anything and not nervous at all. When I asked her about Martie and Emily’s side project, Court Yard Hounds, she replied, “I’ve heard it few times and I think it’s great.” Adding that it was very brave of them to go off on their own, saying that they are the brave ones. “I’m not brave. I’m the big mouth,” she said with a laugh. “Martie and Emily were ready to start recording again and I was just happy to be in sunny California. Crafting and gardening,” she added with another chuckle.
Regarding the Chicks’ return to touring, Glenn stated, “It’s not hard being a Dixie Chick. You guys have done it for so long. Even if you haven’t played for a couple years…it’s just a matter of showing up and doing a little bit of calisthenics with you partners.”
He then went on to talk about what he calls “the circle of fear,” which is where they gather to practice and make sure that everyone is on the same page music-wise. “You just sit there with a couple of acoustic guitars and make sure everyone’s singing the right parts…”
“Kind of like the anti-Grateful Dead,” I interjected.
“Exactly,” he responded.
Though Natalie called that a “scary circle,” I sure would love to be in the middle of it, just taking it all in.
So, the interview continues and I’m kind of surprised at the fact that my voice managed to refrain from cracking.
“Can you tell us what lies in the future for the Dixie Chicks? Are you guys planning on getting back into the recording studio?”
“No plans for that yet. I don’t force anything. I just like things to feel right and let them come together,” replied Natalie.
“So this is more of a comeback tour, right? It isn’t a farewell tour, is it?”
At that, Natalie emphatically assure me, “Oh no, no. Not at all…We have not broken up. We’ve always wanted longevity. We’ve worked really, really, really hard. People think that because you haven’t toured, you’re broken up. But we’ll always be the Dixie Chicks. Right now, there’s no new album, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
Good answer, Natalie. Good answer.
On the subject of bands taking long breaks, Glenn said “You know there may be a little bit of anxiety of ‘are our fans still there? Are they still gonna show up?’ And then they do. And then a really nice sort of reunion between you and your fans.”
So I’m running out of time and running out of tape and I didn’t get to all the questions I wanted to ask, but I quickly inquired what Glenn’s favorite Dixie Chicks song is, to which he replied “Wide Open Spaces.” (The song that started it all for the lovely, harmonizing trio.) When I asked Natalie what her favorite Eagles song was, Glenn interjected with “Oh God, please don’t say ‘Desperado.’ I’m so tired of playing that.”
For those of you who plan on checking out this tour, you might be in for a treat because the idea of the two bands performing something together on stage is definitely not off the table. “We’re talking about it,” says Frey.
Okay, so this interview has gone by way to fast and sadly, had to end. But before I was scooted out the door, I asked Natalie one quick personal question that I simply wanted to know for myself: when the Chicks first started out, they decided to get matching chicken feet tattoos on their feet for every big milestone they reached as a band. So I asked her:
“How many chicken feet tattoos do you have on your foot now?”
“Oh gosh,” she laughed. Well, we’re supposed to have, like, nineteen now, but for now we’ve stopped at six. Man, it hurts. And every time we get a new one, the older ones are faded so we have to get them touched up and it’s kind of painful. Yeah, that was my bright idea.”
Natalie and Glenn couldn’t have been nicer and I couldn’t have asked for a better first interview experience. Finally, after all this time, I got to meet Natalie. This is a woman whose voice would just echo through my mind every time I heard one of their songs. I absolutely love this woman. She’s talented, brassy, and unapologetic yet humble at the same time. And Glenn Frey? He’s nothing short of a legend. I interviewed one of my idols and a legend. I am awesome.