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Listen to the Chicks Turn the National Anthem Into the Harmony Olympics

The (formerly Dixie) Chicks first became associated with the anthem at a triumphant 2003 Super Bowl performance.

dixie chicks natalie maines national anthem
Democratic National Convention

Although it soon got eclipsed in some people’s memories by subsequent events, the Dixie Chicks experienced a peak moment of near-universal love when they sang the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003, a rendition that still shows up on lists of the greatest “Star Spangled Banners” in television history.

The trio now known simply as the Chicks was ready to make nice again with the anthem Thursday in kicking off the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, and while their thoughts about what constitutes patriotism have no doubt deepened in the last 17 years, their harmonies soared as high as ever. Hear their new version — achieved with three-part social distancing, of course — in the video below.

 

At a Democratic convention, of course, the Chicks represent a lot more than blood or near-blood harmony. They’re the original “nasty women” of the early 21st century, when it comes to becoming pariahs for expressing thoughts about a Republican president, as lead singer Natalie Maines did later in 2003, taking a jab at George W. Bush — causing one of the biggest superstar acts in the history of country music to become immediately banished from corporate radio, amid public record-smashings and widespread heartland scorn.

Ultimately the group arose from the flames with a Grammy sweep, more sold-out tours and newfound admiration from fans who might otherwise never have followed the trio. But, needless to say, they remained deeply polarizing enough that a return invitation from the NFL (or any other major sports league) was out of the question. It took the DNC for the Chicks to find another mass audience that would greet their version of the anthem as deeply stirring — and recognize these battle-anthem singers as combat veterans themselves.

The Chicks’ first album in 14 years, “Gaslighter,” produced by Jack Antonoff, was released in July.

Compare the Chicks’ new version with its 2003 predecessor: