As I'm getting out I laugh to myself
'Cause this is the only place
Where as you're getting on the plane
You see Buddy Holly's face
Read full Lyrics
The story of "Lubbock Or Leave It" can't be told without telling the broader story of the album the song is contained in, Taking The Long Way
In 2003, The Chicks (formerly known as the Dixie Chicks) singer, Natalie Maines, said onstage in London that she was against the United States invading Iraq and that she was ashamed that President George W. Bush was from her home state of Texas.
Maines' words set off a media firestorm. The Chicks albums were publicly destroyed by protest groups all over the United States, country music stations boycotted the group, and the band received insults and threats. It was the kind of nightmarish public-relations scenario that just about any other celebrity would have rushed to apologize their way out of, and Natalie Maines was no different. She issued at least two public apologies following the incident.
Maines veered from the ordinary, however, when she then retracted her apology. "I don't feel that way anymore," Maines said. "I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever... If people are going to ask me to apologize based on who I am... I don't know what to do about that. I can't change who I am."
The introspection, defiance, and anger of Maines' retraction can be heard throughout Taking the Long Way
, acutely on "Lubbock Or Leave It."
Maines was born in Lubbock, Texas, and it was there she first experienced her problems with polite society. "I always rebelled against that," Maines said. "As a teenager I always loved not thinking in the way I knew the majority of people thought."
A chapel at Texas Tech in Lubbock
Photo: Paul Funk, Dreamstime
Maines, whose father is none other than the celebrated country musician, songwriter, and producer Lloyd Wayne Maines, always had a stride of confidence. She reportedly told her second-grade teacher she didn't need to worry about grades because she was going to be a music star. "Lubbock Or Leave It" describes those early years.
Lubbock is nicknamed "Hub City" because it's the economic hub of the region commonly called the South Plains. It produces a great deal of the world's cotton and has the 11th highest population in the state.
In "Lubbock Or Leave It," Maines paints the city as a place with "more churches than trees." Throughout the song, she rails against attempts to force ideas of salvation upon her. She talks about a place full of fake people "throwing stones from the top of [their rocks]," an obvious allusion to the Biblical admonition that in the crowd of hypocrites let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
The "Loop 289" in the song references US Route 281, which runs from the Mexico/US border up to the Canada/US border.
The song makes for a nice landmark in the album because it traces Maines' history of rebellion all the way back to the beginning. These were the years before she set off to take the "long way around" and become a big star who would manage to anger a huge portion of the nation.
When Maines says she can't change who she is, it appears she's not just reaching for poetic effect. Maines didn't love Lubbock, so she decided to leave it. The Chicks fans are forever grateful that she did.Jeff Suwak
September 7, 2020
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