Rick Rubin: My Life in 21 Songs

From LL Cool J to Kanye West, Slayer to Tom Petty, Johnny Cash to Dixie Chicks, producer reflects on more than three decades of challenging music's status quo

Load Previous

The Dixie Chicks, "Not Ready to Make Nice" (2006)

We did this at a very emotional time for them. They had gone from being the biggest female group in the world, in history actually, to being completely, in one fell swoop, blacklisted [after Natalie Maines said she was "ashamed" President Bush was from Texas]. All country radio stations just turned them off. In one day, they went from being everywhere to being nowhere. People were burning their records, making death threats. It really shook them up.

They didn't write much of their previous records; they used songs by songwriters. When we got together to make the album, the premise was they were going to write all the songs. They would work with songwriters to help make them as good as they could be, but the content had to be rooted in their real experience. So "Not ready to make nice/Not ready to back down … I'm mad as hell" was really how they were feeling. And it was a very bold of Natalie in particular to want to say those words in such a heated environment. It was a very inflammatory song. They were sticking to their guns, like, "We didn't do anything wrong. We believe in what we say, and we're free to say what we believe."

So it was a very empowering moment, creating that song. The way it starts, "Forgive, sounds good/Forget, I don't think I could," and it's somber, then builds this grand statement, I love the way the song works.

Back to Top