Listen to This: Dixie Chicks

I’m from Austin, Texas, and if I were to recommend the Dixie Chicks to someone at home I’d get an eye-roll in response; whether fans of the music or not, everyone already knows who they are. But I honestly have no clue if my fellow Seattleites are aware of the greatness that is this country trio.

The Dixie Chicks were my first concert ever. I was seven years old, I knew the words to all their songs and it was—excuse the cliché—a truly magical experience. This performance was just after the band’s lead singer, Natalie Maines, made headlines for saying she was ashamed former president George W. Bush is from Texas.

Though they released another fantastic album after that incident, Maines’ comment sent the band’s reputation into a downward spiral. Sadly, because there is such a significant overlap of the Republican Party (and George W. supporters) with country music’s fanbase, the Chicks were essentially blacklisted by their own community. CDs were burned, radio stations refused to give them airtime and Maines even received a death threat.

So it was an unexpected—but lovely—surprise for me when I saw the announcement this week that the girls are getting back together for a 2016 reunion tour. Though it’s not a promise of new music, it’s enough.

I realize that country music probably receives more hate from people of my generation than any other genre, and I understand why. The huge talents of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and so on have slowly been replaced with artists who infuse their “country” songs with too many pop embellishments and write lyrics solely about drinking beer and degrading women. It’s kind of a mess. But a few bad names are no reason to dismiss the genre as a whole. Honestly, your iPod is not complete without a couple of early 2000s country music ballads, and the Chicks have countless gems to choose from.

Favorite songs: “Cowboy Take Me Away,” “Truth No. 2,” “A Home.” They also have a great cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”