[CD Cover, 23k GIF, from austinlinks.com] Dixie Chicks: Little Ol' Cowgirl
Track-by-track Review


The Dixie Chicks' transition album Little Ol' Cowgirl sees the group evolving from straight Western and bluegrass into something tilted a little more towards the mainstream. The addition of electric instruments and a drummer may have been essential for commercial success -- but not everyone was happy with the changes. A March 1992 article in the Dallas Morning News detailed the stress of recording a new album... but nobody knew at the time just how bad the stress really was.

Not long after the album's release, founding Dixie Chick Robin Lynn Macy left the group, and it was rumored that the departure was less than congenial. But in public, both Robin and the Chicks handled the change with style and grace -- see the Autumn 1992 Chick Chat for Robin's farewell note. And that wouldn't be the last change the group would see before they hit the big time...

Side 1

    Laura Lynch: lead vocal, bass
    Emily Erwin: banjo and harmony vocal
    Robin Lynn Macy: guitar and harmony vocal
    Martie Erwin: fiddle
    Tom Van Schaik: drums and percussion
  1. Little Ol' Cowgirl (2:55)
    John Ims © 1989 Rites Of Passage
    This song shows off the original four Dixie Chicks' Western side with Laura Lynch performing lead vocal and Robin Macy and Emily Erwin singing harmony.


    Robin: lead vocal, guitar
    Emily: banjo, harmony vocal
    Laura: bass, harmony vocal
    Martie: fiddle
    Tom Van Schaik: drums

  2. A Road Is Just A Road (3:15)
    Mary Chapin Carpenter and John Jennings © 1987
    Robin takes the lead on this song, with Laura and Emily backing her up. It's a wonderful blend of Folk and Western co-written by Mary Chapin Carpenter. According to reports, the Chicks upstaged Carpenter when they got the nod to play on the 1999 Runaway Bride soundtrack. It seems that Mary Chapin was originally set to record the old Supremes standby, "You Can't Hurry Love".


    Laura: lead vocal, bass
    Emily: banjo, guitjo, harmony vocal
    Martie: fiddle, harmony vocal
    Robin: guitar, harmony vocal
    Tom Van Schaik: drums
    Lloyd Maines: steel guitar

  3. She'll Find Better Things To Do (3:01)
    Bob Millard © 1992 Eccentric Songs (BMI)
    The song that got airplay on Dallas' Young Country 105.3 with Laura on lead, and Robin, Emily, and Martie Erwin all on harmony. Also featured is Lloyd Maines -- yes, Natalie's dad -- on the steel guitar. Did legal wranglings surrounding Robin's departure prevent this from being released as a single nationwide, or was it their indie label's lack of resources?

    Sound Sample (0:00 - 0:29, 215K) *4
    She don't see no way around it,
    He shows every sign of leaving her behind.
    After three days staying out there,
    It don't look like he'll be coming home tonight.
    She wants to cry but pride won't let her --
    She'll find better things to do.


    Robin: rhythm guitar, vocal
    Laura: harmony vocal, bass
    Martie: fiddle
    Emily: banjo
    Matthew Benjamin: solo guitar intro
    Tom Van Schaik: percussion
    Bruce Singleton: penny whistle, bagpipes
    Johnathan David Brown: bagpipes
    Olga Arseniev: accordion

  4. Irish Medley (3:58)
    Traditional
    Four minutes of hardcore folk music, with Robin leading and Laura harmonizing. Fans of traditional Irish music should love this arrangement of "Handsome Molly," "Little Beggarman," and the instrumental "Mist On The Moor." Unfortunately, fans of Billy Ray Cyrus and company will be profoundly unimpressed and will tend to use the disc as a Frisbee. The fact that this is the only sample that was included on the Dixie Chicks' old web site may be an indication of Robin's dedication to pure Folk music and dissatisfaction with the Chicks' new direction -- long before they took the big leap into the Nashville mainstream.

    Sound Sample (1:33 - 2:01, 205K) *4
    We slept one night in a barn in Clairebon
    We went naked all night, then slept until the dawn.
    Holes in the roof and the rain a'pourin' through
    And the cats and the rats are a'playin' peek-a-boo...

    Compare the Irish fiddle in the above sound sample to the intro to the Chicks' 1999 Top 10 hit, "Ready To Run" (see the Treats page for details about this clip):

    Sound Sample (0:50, 196K) *2
    When the train rolls by, I'm going to be ready this time...


    Laura: lead vocal
    Emily: banjo, guitjo, harmony vocal
    Robin: guitar, harmony vocal
    Martie: bass, harmony vocal
    Tom Van Schaik: drums
    Lloyd Maines: steel guitar

  5. You Send Me (2:51)
    Sam Cooke © 1957
    Laura leads as the Chicks put a wonderful swing into this Sam Cooke song... and listen for Lloyd Maines again on steel. The ladies first recorded a snippet of this song at the end of the nostalgic tune The Flip Side (on the Christmas 1991 single, see the Discography page for details).


    Robin: lead vocal, guitar
    Emily: banjo, harmony vocal
    Laura: bass, harmony vocal
    Martie: fiddle, harmony vocal
    Dave Peters: mandolin
    Tom Van Schaik: drums, percussion

  6. Just A Bit Like Me (3:56)
    Robin Lynn Macy © 1992
    Robin's songwriting and vocal talents are showcased in a tune that seems to be prophetic -- one sister chooses to "stay at home with the baby," while "somewhere her sister is singing." At the end, the song asks, "If we could do it all over, would we still be satisfied?" That's a question I'd love to hear Robin and Laura answer... as well as Martie and Emily.

    Sound Sample (2:50 - 3:33, 308K) *4
    Well, it's a long way to Nashville,
    But then, the garden is dry.
    If we could do it all over,
    Would we still be satisfied?

    (Chorus)
    One's choosing, and one's cruising down the highway of her dreams...
    Where songs are sung, the dream's begun, and she thinks of what it means
    To live through her voice -- she made her choice -- but neither one is free...
    Am I a lot like her, or is she just a bit like me?

    Sound Sample (3:28 - end, 173K) *4
    (Big Finish, with harmony, banjo, mandolin, and fiddle)
    ... just a bit like me?
    Am I a lot like her, or is she
    Just a bit -- just a bit
    Just a bit like me?


    Laura: lead vocal, bass
    Emily: banjo, banjo-dobro, harmony vocal
    Martie: fiddle, harmony vocal
    Robin: harmony vocal
    Tom Van Schaik: drums, percussion
    Lloyd Maines: steel guitar
    Larry Seyer: rhythm guitar

  7. A Heart That Can (2:36)
    Patti Dixon © 1990
    This fast-paced tune is probably the most "commercial" sounding track on the album, yet it doesn't pull the listener in like She'll Find Better Things To Do. Laura leads, and Lloyd Maines plays steel on this track as well.

Side 2


    Robin: lead vocal, guitar
    Laura: harmony vocal, bass
    Emily: banjo, guitjo, harmony vocal
    Martie: fiddles, violas
    Tom Van Schaik: drums, percussion
    Olga Arseniev: accordion
  1. Past The Point Of Rescue (3:30)
    Mick Hauly © 1989 Beann Eadair Music (BMI)
    Why did I think that this song was released by Sawyer Brown? It's actually Hal Ketchum who released it in 1991, just a year before the Chicks released Little Ol' Cowgirl. The Chicks, though, replaced Ketchum's third verse with a stunning fiddle and banjo solo. I know which version I prefer... you can decide after listening to these clips! Robin sings lead, but there's hardly a trace of the folksy "twang" that you hear on Hallelujah, I Just Love Him So.


    Martie: fiddle
    Emily: banjo
    Laura: bass
    Matthew Benjamin: guitar
    Dave Peters: mandolin
    Tom Van Schaik: drums

  2. Beatin' Around The Bush (2:33)
    Martie Erwin and Matthew Benjamin © 1992
    This instrumental piece, co-written by Martie and non-chick Chick guitarist Matthew Benjamin, shows the Erwin sisters' talents to their fullest. With Martie on fiddle, Emily on banjo, Laura on bass, and the guys backing them up, it's essential listening for the true Chick-O-Phile. You don't get to hear this on Wide Open Spaces until the final cut, the "name the band" number Give It Up or Let Me Go. An early prototype for this playful cut may be the fiddle and banjo interlude in Christmas Spirit, on the Dixie Chicks' Christmas, 1991 single (see the Discography page for details).


    Laura: lead vocal, bass
    Emily: banjo, guitjo
    Robin: guitar
    Martie: fiddle
    Tom Van Schaik: percussion
    Dave Peters: mandolin
    Lloyd Maines: steel guitar

  3. Two Of A Kind (4:13)
    John Ims © 1991 Rites Of Passage
    Laura sings lead and Lloyd Maines plays steel on this "road song" that should resonate with truckers, struggling country artists, and anyone else who spends a lot of time "bedding down in a cheap motel."


    Laura: lead vocal
    Martie: fiddle, harmony vocal
    Robin: guitar, harmony vocal
    Emily: bass, harmony vocal
    Tom Van Schaik: drums
    Jeff Hellmer: piano

  4. Standin' By The Bedside (2:30)
    I. Tucker
    Laura sings lead on this gospel tune with a twist: "You may meet some boyfriends who may ask about me..."


    Robin: lead vocal, guitar
    Martie: fiddles, viola
    Laura: bass, harmony vocal
    Emily: guitjo, harmony vocal
    Dave Peters: mandolin
    Tom Van Schaik: percussion
    Larry Seyer: piano

  5. Aunt Mattie's Quilt (3:57)
    Lisa Brandenburg and Robin Lynn Macy © 1992
    Robin leads this beautiful song, which she co-wrote. The fiddle solo in this song bears a strong resemblance to the horn solo in The Flip Side (on the Christmas 1991 single, see the Discography page for details).


    Robin: lead vocal
    Emily: bass, harmony vocal
    Laura: harmony vocal
    Martie: harmony vocal
    Tom Van Schaik: percussion

  6. Hallelujah, I Just Love Him So (2:43)
    Ray Charles © 1956
    Robin leads on this Ray Charles standby.


    Laura: lead vocal
    Emily: bass, harmony vocal
    Martie: harmony vocal
    Robin: guitar, harmony vocal
    Tom Van Schaik: percussion
    Larry Spencer: trumpet
    Jeff Hellmer: piano

  7. Pink Toenails (3:24)
    Laura Lynch and Martie Erwin © 1992
    The differences between Laura Lynch and Natalie Maines are never more evident than they are in the treatment of this song. When Laura sings it, it's a sweet, flirtacious tune about what a woman is willing to do to give her man a smile. When Natalie belts this one out, though, the feel is completely different -- almost like a defiant whine against the trouble women put themselves through.

Players on this album

All four Chicks play and/or sing on each track except for Beatin' Around The Bush, and Tom Van Schaik (now playing with Robert Earl Keen) plays percussion and drums throughout.

Other artists are included as well on several tracks... see the notes above. They're transcribed as they appeared in the liner notes, and it's interesting to note the little things -- like the order the Chicks are listed in, and the fact that the Chicks are known by first name after track one while the guys are always listed by full name. There are also other little details, like the little-known fact that Emily and Martie both played bass (Laura's preferred instrument) on several tracks. And what's a "guitjo"?


Last update: 12/22/1999

 


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