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Dixie Chicks - Travelin Soldier (Evening with the Dixie Chicks 2002)

Checking for Matches…

Chicks Hit by Hicks How the South lost Dixie

In the calamitous annals of country music, this song was the peak of the mountain of one career – before it revealed an even higher range beyond. Travelin’ Soldier was the #1 song across the land and sung by the biggest-selling female group of all-time. Melody, harmonies, and heart-strings – what more do you need for heavy rotation in war time?

Everything was going swimmingly for the Lipton Tea girls of country music until their lead singer happened to introduce this song with, “And just so you know … we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” And that was the end of the Chicks career on country airwaves. (see documentary “Shut Up and Sing” for details)  In one news flash they went from the #1 hit on country radio to persona non gratis on the plaid and pick-up circuit.

It led to the Chicks leaving the country world behind and penning their own Top 10, multi-Grammy-winning hit “Not Ready To Make Nice”, placing them firmly in the choir of the soon-to-be massive movement for Change in America.

This song is the BC/AD line in the Chicks career; the greatest country song they ever recorded was to be their last. Written by Texas songwriter Bruce Robison, it tells the wistful tale of a scared young man on his way to war with no one to write home to. Just as M*A*S*H was set in Korea but about Vietnam, this song’s soldier is going to Vietnam, yet it rings painfully true during George Bush’s wars.

But this is all about the chorus’s melody and harmonies . . .

“Never gonna hold the hand of another guy
Too young for him, they told her
Waitin' for the love of a travelin' soldier
Our love will never end
Waitin' for the soldier to come back again . . .

A beautiful, flowing hook sung by one of the strongest country voices, who turned out to be one of its most outspoken. Listen for the vocal blend with the two sisters, Martie and Emily, and their gorgeous and appropriate violin and steel guitar. And I'll leave it to you to discover to guiding mandelin.  That this sound and band was tossed aside by an entire genre of the music industry is a pretty clear window into where their – and their listeners' – mind is at.

The best of folk and wooden music has been embraced by artists from Robert Plant to Elvis Costello because it’s pure, straight-forward and honest. This could have been written for the Civil War, or Iraq. It could have been penned by Cole Porter or Randy Newman. This tune carries a giant arc, and should be sung at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, from every war, in every country.

Just not on country radio.

Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Travelin' Soldier on Wikipedia
"Travelin' Soldier"
Single by Dixie Chicks
from the album Home
ReleasedDecember 20, 2002
  • Country
  • acoustic
LabelColumbia Nashville
Writer(s)Bruce Robison
  • Dixie Chicks
  • Lloyd Maines
Dixie Chicks singles chronology

"Travelin' Soldier" is a song written and originally recorded by American country music artist Bruce Robison in 1996 and again, in rewritten form, in 1999. It was later recorded by Ty England on his 1999 album, Highways & Dance Halls. The first rendition to be issued as a single was by the Dixie Chicks in December 2002, from their album Home. It became the group's sixth and final single to reach No. 1 on Billboard "Hot Country Singles & Tracks" (now "Hot Country Songs"). A version of the song featuring Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, Bruce Robison and Robison's wife, Kelly Willis, appears on KGSR's Broadcasts Vol. 13 album.[1] Also rewritten by country singer Aaron Lewis in 2016 on album "Sinner"


  • 1 Content
  • 2 Reception
  • 3 Dixie Chicks controversy
  • 4 Charts
    • 4.1 Weekly charts
    • 4.2 Year-end charts
  • 5 Other versions
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References


The song is a tale about a shy, lonesome, young American soldier who strikes up a conversation and later a correspondence with a high school girl during the Vietnam War era. Americana details pervade the lyrics as the song details the correspondence as a relationship forms between the two, despite the insurmountable distance. The last letter from the soldier mentions that "it's gettin kinda rough over here" and he "won't be able to write for a while" before skipping ahead to a football game at the girl's high school. After the anthem and Lord's Prayer, the local Vietnam dead are announced. The soldier's name is on the list, but only the girl, who is there, recognizes his name, and she mourns for him as stated in the line "One name read and nobody really cared but a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair."


Kevin John Coyne, reviewing the song for Country Universe, rated the song No. 17 on his list of the 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade. He stated that "it's the story between the lines that drives home the tragedy, as both main characters have a palpable sense of loneliness that they finally find relief from in one another just before they are ripped permanently apart."[2]

Dixie Chicks controversy

The song was being promoted by the Dixie Chicks when on March 10, 2003, lead singer Natalie Maines told a London, England, audience the band was ashamed that then United States President George W. Bush was from Texas. Subsequent U.S. publication of Maines's comments caused some stations, including 42 owned by Cumulus Media, to drop the song from their playlists, causing it to fall from No. 1 on the country singles chart to No. 3 the following week, March 29, before disappearing from the charts entirely.[3]

"Travelin' Soldier" is the last single released by the Dixie Chicks to reach the top 20 on the country singles chart, although their 2007 single "Not Ready to Make Nice", peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 while reaching No. 36 on the country chart.


The song debut at No. 58 on Hot Country Songs on February 16, 2002, based on a live recording from the Country Music Association telecast in the previous November,[4] eventually peaking at No. 57. It was not officially released as a single until late 2002, peaking at No. 1 on the same chart in early 2003.

Other versions

Sheryl Crow released a cover in 2003, shortly after the Dixie Chicks' version fell from No. 1.[3]

Aaron Lewis covered the song with his daughter Zoe as the final track on his 2016 album, Sinner (Aaron Lewis album)

See also

  • List of anti-war songs


  1. ^ Moser, Margaret, "Texas Platters Record Review", The Austin Chronicle, November 25, 2005, Retrieved February 21, 1010
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Mansfield, Brian (2003-03-18). "Dixie Chicks' chart wings get clipped". USA Today. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Singles Minded". Billboard: 65. February 16, 2002. 
  5. ^ "Dixie Chicks – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Dixie Chicks.
  6. ^ "Dixie Chicks – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Dixie Chicks.
  7. ^ "Best of 2003: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2003. Retrieved July 13, 2012. 

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