Travelin' Soldier

Bruce Robison, 1999

The soldier in the song is fighting in the Vietnam War. Why was this story relevant when the Dixie Chicks released the song in 2002?

In what wars was the United States involved in 2002?

When it is announced that the soldier has died, the lyrics state that "nobody really cared." Why do you think nobody cared?

"Travelin' Soldier" performed by the Dixie Chicks on Home. Columbia Nashville, © 2002. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

For more information about the Chicks, visit their official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult the following online resource for lyrics:

"Travelin' Soldier" is an antiwar song by songwriter Bruce Robison. It became popular in 2002 when the Dixie Chicks—a bluegrass and country band from Texas—included it on their third album, Home. The song tells the story of a soldier who falls in love with a young woman shortly before setting off to fight in the Vietnam War. Their relationship deepens as they write to each other while he is overseas, but one night she hears his name read in a list of those who were killed.

In the Dixie Chicks' studio version of "Travelin' Soldier," the song begins intimately, with only gently picked guitar and vocals by lead singer Natalie Maines. The song's emotional content is effectively conveyed through the changing texture. As the story develops in each successive verse, intensity builds with the addition of musical layers, first mandolin, then steel guitar, and then fiddle. The texture again becomes sparse when the list of the deceased is announced in verse three ("One Friday night …"), and then builds to the final, highly emotional iterations of the chorus. The following outro introduces a snare drum, evoking the military, or perhaps a military funeral.

Dixie Chicks cover
Entertainment Weekly cover feature the Chicks after the controversy in 2003.

The Dixie Chicks were one of the most popular country groups of the late 1990s and early 2000s, and "Travelin' Soldier" reached number one on the country charts. But the group paid a price for airing their political views. While playing a concert in London in March 2003, Maines announced from the stage that the group was opposed to military escalation in Iraq and said, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." Country radio stations stopped airing the group's music, fans held CD-bashing events, and "Travelin' Soldier" plummeted in the charts. By 2006, however, their popularity had recovered. Their album of that year, Taking the Long Way, earned double-platinum status and won five Grammy Awards.

On June 25, 2020, the band changed their name to the Chicks, dropping the word "Dixie." The name change was in response to criticism that the word evoked America's dark legacy of enslavement and continuing inquities toward people of color.

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