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the long way

Taking the Long Way

Taking the Long Way is the multiple Grammy Award-winning seventh studio album by the American country/rock female band Dixie Chicks. It was released on May 23, 2006 in the U.S. and on June 12, 2006 worldwide. The album debuted at #1 on both the United World Chart and the Billboard 200. It sold over 2 million copies in the U.S., being certified 2x platinum by the RIAA as of July 11, 2007. It won 5 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year in February 2007.

History

The first song released from the album was the charity single "I Hope" on September 2005. The song received its debut performance on the Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast telethon on September 9, 2005 and was later made available as a digital download single with proceeds to benefit the Hurricane Katrina relief.

The first physical single from the album, "Not Ready to Make Nice", was released in March 2006. On May 18, 2006, the whole album was leaked onto various file sharing mediums.

Taking the Long Way was the first studio album the band released since the controversy that erupted over them in 2003 following Natalie Maines' remarks critical of United States President George W. Bush. The controversy and the Chicks' reaction to it is the major theme at the first tracks of the album.

The first track is "The Long Way Around" which is a manifesto to non-conformity, presented with allusions to The Byrds' "Wasn't Born to Follow" as well as the Chicks' own "Long Time Gone" and "Top of the World". The second track is "Easy Silence", a testimonial to the protagonist's husband, who affords her an island of quiet companionship and love in the midst of turmoil. The third track, and first single, "Not Ready to Make Nice", offers an angry statement of purpose and resolve. The fourth track "Everybody Knows" is a return to the classic Chicks sound, but enmeshed in an aura of vulnerabilities and ambivalences.

Track 9 "Favorite Year" was written with the collaboration of Sheryl Crow, while track ten "Voice Inside My Head" was written with the collaboration of Linda Perry.

Closing track "I Hope", is a song written with Keb' Mo' for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and it was first performed on the Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast telethon in 2005. The song features a guitar solo from John Mayer.

The song "Lubbock or Leave It" roused the answer song "Trouble in the Henhouse" from fellow Lubbockite Billy Briggs.

Selections from the album were prominently featured in the Chicks' subsequent Accidents & Accusations Tour, which included an unprecedented number of Canadian dates. A lot of the album tracks are featured in the Dixie Chicks rockumentary, Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, alongside 3 non-album cuts; "The Neighbor", "Baby Love" and "Whatever It Takes".

The Neighbor was later released as a stand-alone single single, in support of the rockumentary Shut up and Sing.

Reception

Public reception

On May 31, 2006, the album took three number two spots of the Billboard magazine. It was number one on the Hot Country Albums, Top Digital Albums, and on the Billboard 200 chart, going Gold in its first week with 526,000 units sold. The second week, the album stayed in the top spot while taking a 48% decline, selling 271,000 units and bringing the album sales total to 797,000 units. In its third and fourth weeks, the album dropped to number two on the chart. During weeks five, six, and seven, the album remained as one of the top five albums in the country. During its eighth week, due to several high-profile new releases, the album was pushed out of the top ten to number eleven. However, on week nine, the album bounced back into the top ten. The album has sold 2,290,489 copies in the US as of July 11, 2007.

In Canada, the album was a huge success, staying on the top of the album charts for 4 weeks and 18 weeks on the country album charts. It has sold 292,639 copies there, making it 2x platinum. At the year end charts, Taking The Long Way was the second best selling album of the year in Canada.

The album has also done well in Australia becoming their highest charting album peaking at #2 and has since gone double platinum (140,000), the album has also spent thirty non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the Australian Country Chart and is yet to peak lower than the top 10 more than 40 weeks after its release. Taking the Long Way came in at #20 on the Australian End Of Year Album Charts for 2006. It also finished at #1 on the Australian End Of Year Country Charts for 2006, the lead single "Not Ready To Make Nice", finished at #96 on the End Of Year Single Charts.

As of January 2007, Taking the Long Way is certified 2x platinum by the RIAA in the U.S. Many people say that the drop in album sales is due to radio airplay, or lack thereof, which is partly correct. However, a decline in album sales across the board makes up for much of the difference.

Right after the Dixie Chicks won five Grammy Awards and performed "Not Ready to Make Nice" at the 49th ceremony, the album and the single reached the #1 spot on the U.S. iTunes Music Store. On February 21, it was announced by Billboard that the album sales increased 714% (rocketing from position #72 to #8) with sales of 103,000 copies, compared with only 12,700 copies sold on the week before. On the Canadian charts, the post-Grammy Awards week saw the album rocket up from position #27 to #5, with 9,000 copies sold.

Taking The Long Way was very successful in Europe, which is never been an easy market for country music, reaching the top position in Sweden and entering in the top ten in Germany(#5), Austria (#7), Switzerland (#6), Ireland (#7), Norway (#6) and in the UK (#10), becoming their most successfull album in Europe to date.

Critical reception

The website Metacritic gave the album a score of 72 out of 100 based on 18 reviews, certifing it with a green label ("generally favorable reviews"). The users gave the album a score of 8.1 out of 10 based on 121 votes. According to the website, it is behind Home as the second most well-rated album of the band by the critics (the users gave Home a poor 5.8 score).

On December 11, Taking the Long Way appeared at #19 on the Rolling Stone list of the top 50 albums of the year. It was declared on the magazine that:

"The Dixie Chicks respond to their rough past few years with brass balls: This disc shows they didn't regret speaking out against the Iraq War, and Natalie Maines sounds almost punk at times. There is also a whole lot of craft -- (Taking the) Long Way is a widescreen pop record with gorgeous country rock, killer power ballads and fierce honky-tonk."

On December 17, Time elected Taking the Long Way the fifth best album released in 2006 according to the magazine's music critics. It was declared on the magazine that:

"The incident, as they call it, took a commercial toll, but musically the Chicks have never been stronger. The instrumentation on their fourth album keeps a toe in country, yet the songs are the best kind of pop--smart, instantly memorable and fussed over until they sound effortless. "Not Ready to Make Nice" broadcasts their grievances, but "Bitter End" and "So Hard" (a sing-along about infertility) prove that complicated songwriting for the masses still flourishes."

On December 25, USA Today elected Taking the Long Way the best album of the year according to the publication's music experts. It was declared on the newspaper that:

"It was a calculated risk that paid off. Having alienated much of their country constituency with an ill-timed jibe at President Bush, the Chicks declined to beg for forgiveness, defiantly forging ahead with a forthright description of their situation and attitude, "Not Ready to Make Nice", and releasing it as the album's lead-off single. That alienated even more of the country base, but throngs of new fans — and the majority of USA Today's critics — were enthralled by the stance and, more important, the rich, textured, genre-transcendent music the trio and producer Rick Rubin cooked up."

Billboard magazine chose Taking the Long Way as one of 2006's fifteen best albums. On a poll conducted by the magazine, it ranked as the third best (tied with Gwen Stefani's The Sweet Escape) by visitors of Billboard.com . It was declared in the magazine that:

"Once the darlings of country, the Chicks lost many fans — and the support of country radio — after a 2003 incident in which Natalie Maines made a relatively innocuous comment about President Bush from a London stage. The group has finally re-emerged stronger, more defiant and more creatively ambitious than ever. The first-time pairing with Rubin has resulted in a surprisingly cohesive mix of country and rock tunes, including co-writes with Sheryl Crow and Neil Finn. While many former fans remain critical of the group for its outspoken political views — an apparent no-no in country music — tracks like "The Long Way Around", "Everybody Knows", "I Hope" (highlighted by a John Mayer guitar solo) and the chillingly sad "Voice Inside My Head" are sure to earn the group at least some of its fans back."

Awards and nominations

On December 6, 2005, the first single released from the album, "I Hope", was nominated for the 48th Grammy Awards in two categories (Best Country Song and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal). On February 8 2006, it lost both awards to the Rascal Flatts and Alison Krauss and Union Station, respectively.

On December 7, 2006, Taking the Long Way was nominated for the 49th Grammy Awards in two categories (Album of the Year, Best Country Album), and the single "Not Ready to Make Nice" was nominated in three categories (Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal). On February 11, 2007, the band won the awards in all of the five categories. Producer Rick Rubin was awarded Producer of the Year for his work with this and other albums.

On April 1, 2007, the album won the Juno Award for International Album of the Year.

Track listing

All songs were written by Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Dan Wilson, except where noted.

  1. "The Long Way Around" – 4:33
  2. "Easy Silence" – 4:02
  3. "Not Ready to Make Nice" – 3:58
  4. "Everybody Knows" (Gary Louris, Maguire, Maines, Robison) – 4:18
  5. "Bitter End" (Louris, Maguire, Maines, Robison) – 4:38
  6. "Lullaby" – 5:51
  7. "Lubbock or Leave It" (Mike Campbell, Maguire, Maines, Robison) – 3:54
  8. "Silent House" (Neil Finn, Maguire, Maines, Robison) – 5:23
  9. "Favorite Year" (Sheryl Crow, Maguire, Maines) – 4:29
  10. "Voice Inside My Head" (Maguire, Maines, Linda Perry, Robison, Wilson) – 5:52
  11. "I Like It" (Louris, Maguire, Maines, Robison) – 4:34
  12. "Baby Hold On" (Louris, Maguire, Maines, Robison, Pete Yorn) – 5:04
  13. "So Hard" – 4:27
  14. "I Hope" (Maguire, Maines, Kevin Moore, Robison) – 5:25

Bonus Tracks

  • "Live Wire" (Available with iTunes pre-order) – 3:57
  • "Thin Line" (Available as Best Buy exclusive) – 4:52

Singles

Personnel

Charts

Album

Chart (2006) Peak
position
Australia ARIA Top 50 Albums 2
Australia ARIA Top 50 Country Albums 1 (35 weeks)
Austrian Album Charts 7
Canada Jam! Top 100 Albums 1 (4 weeks)
Canada Jam! Top 50 Country Albums 1 (18 weeks)
Danish Albums Charts 13
Dutch Album Charts 41
Finland Top 40 Albums 12
German Media Control Top 100 Albums 5
New Zealand RIANZ Top 40 Albums 5
Norwegian Album Charts 6
Swedish Album Charts 1 (1 week)
Swiss Album Charts 6
UK OCC Top 75 Albums 10
U.S. Billboard 200 1 (2 weeks)
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 1 (9 weeks)
U.S. Billboard Top Digital Albums 1
U.S. Billboard Top Comprehensive Albums 1
United World Chart 1 (1 week)

Singles

Year Single Chart Peak
position
2005 "I Hope" U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs 54
U.S. Billboard Pop 100 92
2006 "Not Ready To Make Nice"
Australia ARIA Singles Chart 18
Canada Jam! Hits 100 3
Canada Jam! Country Songs 1 (11 weeks)
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 32
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs 36
"Lullaby" U.S. Billboard Pop 100 76
"Everybody Knows" U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs 45
Canadian Jam! Hits 100 71
Canadian Jam! Country Songs 10
"The Long Way Around" U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs 48
Canadian Jam! Hits 100 21
Canadian Jam! Country Songs 1 (3 weeks)
2007 "Not Ready To Make Nice" U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs 2 (re-entry)
U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Tracks 2 (re-entry)
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 4 (re-entry)
U.S. Billboard Pop 100 6 (re-entry)

References

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