This song is of the "I've been there" variety. The story is of a man who meets the woman he believes is the love of his life in the lobby of the Commodore Hotel, and immediately makes a lifelong commitment to her, promising her the storied house on the edge of town with the white picket fence, but in the end she leaves him crying in his beer. The narrator is telling his story to a bartender, about how much he loved her and how badly he misses her. Then, one at a time, other guys in the bar start adding to his story, until he realizes they'd all been scammed by the same girl. In the end, they're all singing in harmony about the "Dixie Chicken" and having a wistful but hearty laugh about all being part of this well-populated men's club.
S.D. - Denver, CO
"Dixie Chicken" was the title track to the band's third album, which sported a new lineup, with Kenny Gradney replacing Roy Estrada on bass, and conga player Sam Clayton and guitarist Paul Barrere added. Their new sound was less blues rock and more New Orleans-style Dixieland, making the title apropos.
Little Feat frontman Lowell George wrote this song with Martin Kibbee, who is credited as "Fred Martin." The pair were in a band together before Little Feat formed. Kibbee wrote the lyric, which were sparked when he drove past a sign in Los Angeles that said "Dixie Chicken" (apparently advertising a restaurant). He says that by the time he drove home, he had the lyric written in his head.
Bonnie Bramlett of the duo Delaney & Bonnie sang lead on this with Lowell George. New Little Feat members Kenny Gradney and Sam Clayton had both been in Delaney & Bonnie's band.
To promote this song, the band delivered fried chicken to radio stations with Lowell George in a chicken suit. The boxes read: "Finger Pickin' Good" - a play on the Kentucky Fried Chicken "Finger Lickin' Good" slogan - and had the girl from the album cover in place of Colonel Sanders.
Like their first two albums, Dixie Chicken sold quite poorly at first, but the group was signed to Warner Bros., which tended to sign bands they believed in and give them time to find an audience. When Little Feat hit the road, they picked up momentum and found a following. Their next album, Feats Don't Fail Me Now, sold 500,000 copies and their 1978 album, Waiting For Columbus, sold a million. The song "Dixie Chicken," little heard when it was first released, became a favorite on Album Oriented Rock radio, and later, on Classic Rock.
Despite their success, it was a rough ride for Little Feat. Lowell George produced Dixie Chicken himself and dominated the album. His bandmates took more control of subsequent releases, but there was always a lot of tension. In 1979, the group broke up, and two months later George died while touring as a solo artist. Little Feat re-formed in 1987.
The popular all-female country group The Dixie Chicks, which formed in 1989, took their name from this song. In 2020, they dropped the Dixie and became "The Chicks" in response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement (two weeks earlier, Lady Antebellum rebranded as Lady A). The word "Dixie" refers to the Confederate-era South, which was a time of slavery.