By Abigail Covington, Contributing Writer
In case you didn’t hear, the Dixie Chicks go by The Chicks now. The name change was the iconic country music trio’s way of “meeting the moment” and came alongside the arrival of their latest single “March, March” and the accompanying music video.
As far as protest songs go, “March, March” packs a helluva punch. The Chicks cover expansive ground, namechecking token progressive causes such as gun violence, global warming, and reproductive justice against the backdrop of Martie Maguire’s acidic fiddle solo, Emily Strayer’s taut banjo playing and super-producer Jack Antonoff’s sparse electronic drum beat. Those elements combined with the tart timbre of Maine’s iconic voice deftly reflect our nation’s brittle cultural climate.
But the real history-making moment belongs to the song’s video, which features archival footage of protests throughout the past century along with more recent cell phone-shot videos from the Black Lives Matter movement. There’s a moving image of a waving rainbow flag that gives way to a still photograph of Black women at the “Headquarters for Colored Women Voters,” followed by a scene composed of photographs of individuals with signs and masks that proudly state “Black Trans Lives Matter.”
It may not be the first time a country act has ceded the spotlight to a social justice cause, but it’s still an explosive statement from a major group — one that is adamant about its support of the many marginalized communities that are so often ignored by the popular country music complex. This is The Chicks in 2020 — uncompromising and determined to be on the right side of history despite their industry’s insistence on preserving an exclusive and whitewashed version of the past. And while it’s unlikely that a single song or video will change the prevailing politics of country music, we can hope that with The Chicks’ popularity providing the horsepower, “March, March” reaches new audiences and let’s them know from the jump that all are welcome in their corner of country music.