On Landslides: Stevie Nicks & The Dixie Chicks

I’ve been obsessively listening to every cover of landslide I can find. Watching every music video and messing up my spotify algorithm. Driving home from a great trip with Brittany she put on the Dixie Chicks version and we blared it driving towards Austin exhausted from a day of hiking, then eating, and then eating some more.

The song has this sad tired quality that I can’t fully understand. A quiet resilience and movement that for some reason always makes me think of my mother and get terribly sad. It’s funny that every woman i’ve dated has said they like this song, and we’ve spent some part of our relationship blaring this with the windows down. In each case it takes on such a different context. And each song that plays in the playlist has such a specific quality to the sadness and grief that drapes on every word. But yet each interaction feels the same. Each interaction feels connected through some uniquely feminine experience I couldn’t begin to understand.

I think about Stevie Nicks performing this song in the late 70’s. 1975 I believe. The Vietnam war would end a few months later. In a few years the Equal Right Amendment would be attacked relentlessly as a danger to the women's movement. The argument was that the ERA would give up part of the power women naturally had over the opposite sex. With the slow defeat of the ERA it could be argued the women’s movement began to die under the pressure of a society demanding they never change, never realize their own strength for fear of being personally affected.

I wonder what it must mean to get older like my mom, to see her beauty and youth fade in a way very different from men. My mother is a beautiful woman, her mother was a fierce and elegant woman. To see pictures and videos of my grandmother, in full white jumpsuit and glasses hanging around her neck. Short hair and a cigarette. A look that I’ve secretly admired and wish I my body could conform to, handled with such grace and severity. And my mother is her mother's child, that same stern and graceful age takes over. Every time i come back home i’m reminded of how her strength has seeped through to every ounce of my being. Seamlessly able to be the strongest, smartest, kindest, and sometimes most ignored woman in the room.

I wonder what it must be like, to birth 3 people into the world, to watch them grow up in front of your eyes and then realize their growth coincides directly with your growth. Every time you see them it must be a reminder of how far you’ve come in your life from the beginning. Yet every time you look in the mirror surely you are reminded of the times, driving around in your thunderbird blaring whatever song it was you were into at the time. I wonder if my mom thinks of this, if she understands the parallels that me and her do every day. I wonder again if she understands the sure amount of love and compassion that it takes to put continually into the world nothing but strength and direction. And I wonder if her mom, like her, and like me think of this.

I wonder if Brittany, sitting next to me in the car, is thinking of the same thing, if 30 years down the line she’ll look into the mirror and think of the time driving down the freeway blaring this song. She describes to me, how the song feels timeless and relevant. I wonder for how long it will remain relevant, is the crucial understanding of the song that it’s a timeless question based in the sheer quality of being a human? Or will the song being crushed under the ever coming landslide that is the future?

Everyday now for the last few months we have woken up to a collection of men being stripped of their power, men who used their positions and their control to manipulate dozens of women, to strip them of their agency and power, to deprive the world of hundreds and hundreds of wonderful thoughts and creations by the ever thriving and ever expanding world of powerful women hell bent on changing the world around them.

My grandmother worked at Texas Instruments , one of the first people to come over when it became Compaq. I never really knew how much she made. I heard stories of her buying her own car, sticking it to the dealership when they asked for her husband. I went to her house all the time as a kid, to me it was a palace filled with a wonderful garden and beautiful things. It never seemed to me that she was in a bad place financially, but I wonder how hard her work life was. How much she dealt with the same harassment.

My mother has always been to me someone with a very powerful and important job. When we would go to her office in the Chase building in Houston and look out the windows over the city I would imagine that she was one of the most powerful people in the world. Her keycard access and coming in on the weekends, the way everyone seemed to know her, made me think surely she was someone important. Surely this is what I should aspire to.  She put 3 boys through college, she paid for everything we could ever want, she seemed to manage existence in a way that I can’t imagine now that the reality of adulthood is setting in.

I keep thinking about this song, how in 2002 the Dixie Chicks performed this to wild success. How three women had risen to a seat of power in country music, singing a song of a woman who climbed to the top only to turn around. How in one short year they were shunned from the community for daring to attack the president. For questioning what has now become an endless war. How yet again a powerful voice had been stripped from popular culture at the hands of a chorus of angry men voices.

Maybe the truth is that it was always inevitable, the avalanche that we find ourselves in now. A male culture that refused at every step of the way to criticize itself. Too look in the mirror and reflect on the aging of our ideas and thoughts. Our inability to return from the summit.     

I wonder if we’ve moved past that. There seems a real fear now that the steam will run out, that the landslide that promised to take out all of those standing in the way of true equality might never happen. The final glass ceiling wasn’t shattered, but it took the help of a foreign government and one of the most hellfire elections to make it happen.

I wondered when Brittany was upset that night, when my friends left In silence, when my mom called me upset and angry, if they all thought the same. I wondered if they desperately wanted to scale that mountain, tired of turning around just to keep the peace from the various voices in their life.

I’ve been thinking about this song a lot, thinking about the trajectory of things in the country. Wondering if we are turning around when we are so close to changing things for the better. Is that the eternal struggle, afraid of making the change necessary simply because we built our lives around what we know now?

I don’t really have an end to these thoughts but i’ll leave it with this.

Last night a Trumpian politician in the deepest of red states, who was accused of sexually assaulting multiple women, and multiple children. A man who said that he had god on his side, that his success was the success of a righteous god who he represented. Last night he was beaten by a Democrat, ushered into office for the first time in 25 years on the backs of African American women who turned out to vote in record numbers.  

There’s something in that that we don't fully understand yet.