It's certainly no secret that pop star Taylor Swift regards country icons The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks) as major influences in her life. For years, the artists have nurtured a strong friendship and extolled the virtues of each other's music. Swift, however, recently articulated exactly how The Chicks modeled the kind of spirit and career Swift aspired to — even pinpointing the exact lyric that changed her life (and maybe yours) forever.
In The Chicks' recent cover story for Billboard, which comes after the release of their newest album in 14 years, Gaslighter, Swift spoke about how growing up watching the trio — singer Natalie Maines and multi-instrumentalist sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer — and seeing the way they spoke their minds and channeled their anger and frustrations into their music.
“Early in my life, these three women showed me that female artists can play their own instruments while also putting on a flamboyant spectacle of a live show,” Swift told Billboard. “They taught me that creativity, eccentricity, unapologetic boldness and kitsch can all go together authentically. Most importantly, they showed an entire generation of girls that female rage can be a bonding experience between us all the very second we first heard Natalie Maines bellow ‘that Earl had to DIE.’”
Traces of these same qualities can be found in Swift's work, from an embrace of female rage in 2009's "Picture To Burn," all the way to the flamboyance of 2019's "ME!" In fact, at one of Swift's shows at Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2015, the singer invited Maines onstage to sing "Goodbye Earl" together.
Later the piece, Maguire describes taking her children to a Swift concert and being overcome with emotion when the singer said that The Chicks' song "Cowboy, Take Me Away" was the first song she learned to play on guitar, and the crowd proceeded to sing along as she played it for the audience.
"I was 40 and feeling over the hill, like, 'Are we ever going to have a career again?' Everybody starts singing not only the chorus but the verses, and I just started [sobbing],'" said Maguire. "It was the most amazing moment probably in my entire life. It felt like passing the torch in a way. But the fact that she's continued to give us kudos? It's really important to keep you going and feeling important."
The "kudos" she's referring to in particular is The Chicks' feature on Swift's 2019 album, Lover, on the song "Soon You'll Get Better," an emotional ballad about Swift's mother's battle with cancer.
But perhaps most notably, Swift has recently channeled The Chicks' fervor in terms of being upfront about her politics. The Chicks famously faced incredible backlash in 2003, when right before the Iraq War began, the Maines said the group was "ashamed" that President George W. Bush was from their home state of Texas. After keeping quiet about her political beliefs for many years, Swift spoke up against Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, calling her "Trump in a wig," and most recently tweeted in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"The power she has right now to change things is way beyond any power we ever had. She’s in a different position than we ever were," Strayer said of Swift.