Long Time Gone

Thursday, 31 October 2013 | Tags: , , , ,

Most friendships have a shelf life. By that I mean they will have a period of intensity and then eventually fade into something different.

In general, friendships happen when people are brought together by sameness; kids in the same class, socio-economic status, break down of a marriage, similar interests or being at an otherwise similar place in life. Truly great friendships can – and do – change the world (or at least help you be successful!). Just look at Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the two friends who created Google. Or Gail and Oprah.  I am absolutely certain they have had some of the best times of their lives working together to create their empires.  But the reality is it the relationships will not stay the same forever.  

I was reminded of this last week when some girlfriends and I went to see The Dixie Chicks in Vancouver. Multiple songs from their 1999 album “Fly” got me through some tough times. And then later, “Taking the Long Way Around” became my life’s theme song. I’d like that to be played at my funeral.  Basically, I’m a super fan.

But whether it was Natalie Maines’ comment on stage in 2003 about then US President George W. Bush, or simply life behind the scenes, watching them on stage last week it’s obvious for The Dixie Chicks, something has changed.

My first clue came when the lights went up and the music started.  I was like, WOW!  Lead singer Maines has changed her look!  Gone are the blonde locks.  She’s now got a brown buzz cut with beiber-esq style mowhawk.  I’m all for trying something new, but given that the rest of the band looks the same as ever it seemed a disjointed departure.

Not once during the entire show did I see the three women interact with one another.  They didn’t seem to be playing together, but rather each doing a job independent of the other.  They smiled to the fans, but not each other.  

This tour is the first time the Chicks have toured Canada in seven years.  In that time both Maines and sisters Emily Robinson and Martie McGuire have put out their own albums.  And Maines is clearly moving toward more of a pop/rock sound (perhaps that explains the new do).  All being extremely talented musicians, I have high hopes for this next chapter in their musical lives.  I love a good second act (or third or fourth).  But for me the Chicks have lost their magic as a trio. 

I just hope they’re still great friends.  Keeping a friendship going when that sameness goes away and priorities change is almost always next to impossible (and sometimes, there is a right time to end it). That’s why, as we age, our circles tend to get smaller and smaller.  

Whether or not you have a friendship that creates great music, changes the world or just your own world, at a certain point you have to decide if you’re going to fight to take it past that thing that made it so easy, natural, inspiring and fun in the first place.  If you’re not sure if it’s worth it ask yourself two questions:  Do you trust this person?  (And I mean in every way; with your money, your spouse, your secrets and to give you the straight goods no matter what) and two, does your gut tell you they want the best for you?

I hope the answers for The Dixie Chicks is yes. 


[Top photo credit: Mark Runyon]

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  • Christina

    I was at the Kelowna concert and came away with the same feeling. During the encoure they played a Bob Dylan song, in which Maines rocked out. I mean head down, arms pumping at the chords, in her own world singing. It was exciting to see her so involved, but that energy was not there for their own music. All I hope is that everyone stays true to their hearts, including the chicks!

  • nunnyabiz86

    I also felt the same way leaving the Vancouver show…was great fun and loved the music but there was no chemistry…they seemed to be just getting threw a playlist.

  • bluegrass69

    As long as you and Anna remain friends together forever, the world will be OK.

  • samONT2011

    I too loved their early stuff. Fly had songs that happened around the beginning times of a fun relationship. But they’ve lost their luster.

  • Sandra Valdron

    I saw the ladies in Ottawa this Summer at Bluesfest and the event was similar for me (cried when I saw the distance physically and emotionally). Great musicians and Natalie’s strong vocals had a depth that no one can imitate. It is an end of an era, but I have hope they will find that pocket they were once in. If not, I am so thankful for what they did give – great writers, musician, artist and honest women. Like you Anna – Cheers

  • Susy

    I’m so sorry you felt that way. We were quite close to the stage and kept commenting how happy – even blissful – they looked. However, your larger point is no less thoughtful. Nicely written!

  • Noa peri

    Just saw them in Hamilton, and I loved every minute of it. I’ve never seen them live before, so I don’t have anything to compare this performance to, but it seemed like they were all very happy to be there on stage. My friend commented that since they don’t have a new album, and aren’t promoting anything, they must be doing this simply because they like it. They seemed to be having a good time 🙂