Friday, July 12, 2013

Do the right thing LUBBOCK

Welcome Natalie Maines back to Lubbock

Honor her in the Buddy Holly plaza as one of Lubbock's great musicians

OK, OK, let me start out by saying, I'm relatively new here; I have been here only eleven months, not even a year. So I don't know the whole story; I don't know Natalie Maines; I've never met her family. So you can take what I'm saying with that in mind.

I realize that she said some very hurtful things. Some people stopped listening after she slammed George W. Bush in London, and criticized the war. From then on, they didn't care for her, or they assumed that whatever reason people were mad at her, it was probably due to that.

But there was more. Some guy threatened her, in a Texas kind of way I suppose, and she wrote a couple of songs that were very personal, against Lubbock (Lubbock or Leave It), against everyone (Not Ready to Make Nice), etc. And, she won international acclaim for this album, which was excellent musically. I should mention here that I'm not sure how much her fellow Dixie Chicks had to do with it; I'm sure they co-wrote the songs, and they supported her, but the fire in the album came from her.

My point is, that helped in making the feud personal. She insulted the people of the town, the guy who threatened her, even her mother (as far as we can tell), and people took her family's side. They were offended, and they still are, many years later.

But I would like everyone to step back and see the big picture. When an artist makes a strong statement, should they be glued to that statement for their entire career? What if she changes her mind and decides that there were good things about growing up in Lubbock; would we even listen to a song like that? When a teenager says to her mother, "I hate you, you're the worst mother anyone ever had..." - should that mother hold it against her for the rest of her life?

She should remember it, I think, but she should forgive it also. And I'm pretty sure that Natalie's family has forgiven her, and I think the people of Lubbock can do it too.

Now here's another point: I don't really know all the people of Lubbock, and I certainly can't speak for all of them. I can't say for sure that all of them, or even most of them, are still mad at her. It's just a strong guess, based on what I've heard, and based on the fact that there are plenty of people who still don't even want to talk about it. Now that's a hoppin' feud!

One time I was in a small writer's bar in Iowa City feeling sorry for myself, and I put a quarter in the jukebox and played "Don't Be Cruel" by Elvis. Some guy lit into me, saying that Elvis was a mean old bigot, and a drunk and drug addict to boot, and I shouldn't support him even with a quarter. I was shocked, and it might have been that I'd already drunk a few, but I listened to him with my jaw open and didn't even argue. Eventually, though, I came to disagree with him totally. First of all, Elvis was a great singer, and though he didn't sing anything political, or even controversial, that's enough for me. I don't have to agree with his lifestyle or his politics to love his music or appreciate what he did for the direction of American music in general.

Second, a song is only part words, and I for one, as a musician, have always heard the words last. That's why I knew how great the Dixie Chicks were, and what a good singer Natalie was, for a long time before I realized that any of her songs were about Lubbock. She's a great singer. If you separate that from what she said, you'll get my point, which is, it doesn't matter what she said, she should be honored in the Buddy Holly plaza anyway. She's one of the best. Period. Recognize that and get over the other stuff.

Actually, you don't ever have to forget it. It was an interesting period in the history of Lubbock and its musicians, and if the story is told a few times, that's not especially bad for either her or Lubbock. Lubbock can handle it. This is a city with great music, and great musicians, and it has a lot to be proud of. It should be proud of Natalie Maines, again.