Review: Shut Up and Sing

“Shut Up and Sing”
Run time: 1:33

During a concert in London in 2003, Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines made her infamous remark about the President. “Shut Up and Sing” shows what happens when the Chicks walked off stage all the way through the recording of their latest EP “Taking the Long Way” with mercurial producer Rick Rubin.

It’s amazing to see things transform as the Chicks go from singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl in 2003 and announcing their tour, seeing the remark made in it’s full context in London, and the subsequent fall from grace of the most successful female band of all time (the had the #1 single “Travelin’ Soldier” at the time and it was completely off the charts the week after the remark). What I was truly amazed about was the footage shown after the London concert and how “the remark” was not a big deal. It was an unrehearsed remark made in the spur of the moment, and met favorably from the London audience, that was picked up by the American media and a whirlwind followed. From record burnings (9 year olds stomping CD’s and looking to mommy and daddy for approval), concert protests (a mother holding her 3 year old yelling “Screw ‘Em!” then asking her child to repeat her), and talk show rants (Bill O’Reilly recommends physical violence against them) the reaction is polarizing and somewhat unfair.

The irony of all of this, to me, is that one of the things that our armed services fight to protect is our freedom of speech – the 1st Amendment. However, the majority of the public seemed to turn on the Chicks even after she apologized to the President for her remark and explained that she supports the troops and that the remark was not intended to incite such responses. I was horrified to see red stater after red stater echo the movie’s title as they walked into Chicks shows in 2005. As if to say “I don’t like your politics or opinions, but hey sing that song about the battered wife again (“Goodbye Earl”).”

When a death threat is mailed in stating Maines would be shot at the Chicks concert in Dallas, the sisters are there behind Maines. That moment in the movie is very incomfrtable since all the Chicks have their children traveling with them, but Maines tries to shake it off after seeing a picture of the accuser she comments how cute he is, but you can see it in her eyes that she is terrified. The show goes off without a hitch, but the Chicks have to prepare in San Antonio, fly in a private jet and travel to the American Airlines Center with a heavy police escort and presence at the show.

The Chicks story is compelling and emotional. Sisters Martie McGuire and Emily Robison stand by Maines and refuse to flinch. They refuse to buckle or blame Maines for the devasting blow to the Chicks. It’s not until with about 10 minutes remaining in the movie that mcGuire breaks down when saying she would give her career up tomorrow if that’s what had to happen to support the other two.

The movie does show the family side of the Chicks even taking us into Robison’s hospital room as she delivers twins with Maines and McGuire chatting up US Weekly mags right before the big moment.

I like the Chicks. I believe in the 1st Amendment and I think it’s time to move on.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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