Last night, during the middle of a five-show residency at L.A.’s Staple Center, Swift brought Natalie Maines onstage for a surprise duet of “Goodbye Earl.” The pair swapped verses and traded harmonies throughout the Dixie Chicks’ revenge anthem, with Maines — who headlined the Staples Center three times during the Dixie Chicks’ commercial reign — sounding as formidable as she did on the song’s 1999 studio recording. Meanwhile, Swift mimed the worlds like a participant in the world’s largest game of charades, even faux-punching herself in the face during the first mention of spousal abuse. (Thanks for the clarification, Taylor.)
Her acting may have been outsized, but Swift’s respect for Maines — another country queen who, like her, sat on the throne for years before giving up the crown — was genuine.
“If not for this woman and her band, I would not have known that you could be quirky, be fun, be yourself, be outspoken and brave and real,” she said by way of introduction. “I wouldn’t have, when I was nine years old, gotten my first CD. I wouldn’t have dreamed the things that I dreamed, and I wouldn’t be standing on this stage today.”
With the exception of Maines and Sam Hunt, most of Swift’s duet partners during the 1989 World Tour have been pop artists. Lorde, Nick Jonas, Jason Derulo, the Weeknd and Walk the Moon were among last month’s guest artists, with Mary J. Blige, Fifth Harmony and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder sharing the stage with her earlier this month. Adding an alt-rock edge to the mix is Alanis Morissette, Swift’s second guest from last night’s show in Los Angeles, who performed 1995’s Grammy-winning “You Oughta Know” with help from Swift and nearly 20,000 fans.
After wrapping up its Los Angeles residency tomorrow night, the 1989 World Tour will roll its way across the country throughout September and October, then head overseas for the rest of the year.