By Nikole Dugger
If the melodic sound of a Dixie Chicks song fills the air at a stop light, chances are the car next to you is not listening to the radio.
Regardless, the Texas-trio’s latest release “Taking the Long Way” has been perched atop Billboard charts since its May 23 release, and local retailers say shopping habits around the Scenic City mirror the group’s national success.
“It’s been tough keeping it on the shelf,” said Paul Banze, electronics manager at the Target store on Gunbarrel Road. “Even though they’re not playing on the radio, people have been playing them in their cars.”
Having previously purchased each of the group’s major releases, Rebecca Baty said she was sure to pick up a copy of their latest work after watching the Chicks on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
“I love it,” said Ms. Baty about the disc. “The tone of the message has changed —; it’s a little less country, but it still speaks from the heart as much as it always did.”
More than two weeks since the purchase, the Ms. Baty says the CD remains an integral part of her daily commute, and the volume surges on Track 4 —; “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
Released as the first single, “Not Ready” serves as an uninterrupted, four-minute statement on the controversy that arose after Natalie Maines’ referenced President Bush while introducing “Travelin’ Soldier” on an English stage.
“I don’t agree with what everyone is doing to them just because they used their First Amendment rights,” Ms. Baty said.
A long-time listener of WUSY-FM 100.7, Ms. Baty said she has even stopped listening to the local country station because of it isn’t playing the Chicks.
Though the station played the group’s first single once shortly after it came out, operations manager Kris Van Dyke recently told the Times Free Press it had not been played since.
“We polled listeners online, and 67 percent said they still did not want to hear them, and that was before they started running down country fans,” he said.
Though absent on airwaves, store manager Jerry Howard said the disc is the best-selling country CD Cat’s Music has had in quite some time.
“They’ve outsold Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and some other really big country stars,” he said.
Because of the store’s urban setting, Mr. Howard said rhythm and blues and rap are primarily sold, but the Chicks ranked no. 6 among its top 10 sellers last week.
“For a country release in our location, that’s very good,” he said.
The manager said the three-year-old controversy is still fresh on the minds of the store’s patrons.
“Probably almost half of the customers I’ve seen have said they’re buying it to make a statement,” Mr. Howard said.
Such emotion, particularly in the red states has not parlayed into corresponding ticket sales for the Chicks’ pending Accidents & Accusations tour.
Tour promotor AEG declined comment on actual figures, but as of Thursday afternoon a handful of stops in the Midwest and the South, including a Sept. 27 date in Memphis, have been postponed.
Billboard magazine reported ticket sales’ averaging between 5,000 to 6,000 for venues with capacities of at least 15,000.
E-mail Nikole Dugger at email@example.com
Staff Photo by Nikole Dugger
Paul Banze restocks the Dixie Chicks' "Taking the Long Way"
at the Target store on Gunbarrel Road Tuesday afternoon.