Songs for Sound Minds are our picks of the best music that uplifts, inspires and boosts mental health. Songs written as an anthem to overcoming the storms of life. The songs that give hope in those times when we are struggling. Our latest pick could have been entitled ‘the hard way around’. The Long Way Around is a soulful, honest piece of country-pop that lays bare what it means to have the world crash down around you and still come out the other side.
The Long Way Around (aka the hard way around)
The inspiration for this Dixie Chicks track might be familiar. In London, during the band’s 2003 world tour, military action by the USA and its allies against Iraq seemed inevitable. Unhappy at the path being taken, lead singer Natalie Maines made a comment on stage that drew praise and approval from the audience:
“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”
A ferocious backlash
The comment, however, caused a ferocious backlash against the band at home. Their albums were destroyed in public, protests ensued, radio stations in their country-music heartlands pulled them from their playlists and death threats were made. The fallout brought what promised to be a very successful jump from country music to mainstream pop stardom to a grinding halt.
Shunned by their traditional audiences, the future of the band was in serious doubt. Maines had gone from hero to zero simply by standing up for what she believed. The band – together since 1995 – were, to a great extent, right back where they started.
The long way back to the top (aka The Long Way Around)
In spite of it all, the Dixie Chicks remained committed to each other and to Maines’ statement (a hastily released PR statement apologising to the President was later recanted). They dusted themselves off and started to rebuild by recording this song.
The Long Way Around focuses on what the band went through in the time after the ill-fated comment:
It’s been two long years now
Since the top of the world came crashing down
And I’m getting’ it back on the road now
But I’m taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Since the top of the world came crashing down is a clever dual reference to how their world fell in and the root cause: the infamous comment was made during their ‘Top of the World’ tour. Despite reflecting on the trials and tribulations they faced, the song still retains both positivity and a greater sense of wisdom and perspective.
Stand up for what you believe in
The Long Way Around is a brilliant track that offers great encouragement. First off, it asserts that it is still worth standing up for what you believe in.
I opened my mouth, and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself
But I, I could never follow
No, I, I could never follow
Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I’m gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me, I can still be found
Taking the long way
As Winston Churchill said: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
The second piece of inspiration is this: when it seems like the world is crashing down around you and the future seems bleak, keep going. As the Dixie Chicks discovered, despite the ‘haters’ life went on and the people that cared about them most stood by them. And they did so in droves.
Fans remained loyal to the band and the US leg of the tour was a huge success, despite initial fears fans would stay away in protest. The Long Way Around album went straight to number 1 in the USA upon its release and it won the Dixie Chicks five Grammys (every one they were nominated for).
To quote Winston Churchill again: “If you are going through hell, keep going.” As the Chicks found out, a road back is possible, it might just take a little bit longer.