Here’s everything we’ve learned about Chicks singer Natalie Maines’ ugly divorce
Fourteen years since their last record, the Chicks dropped the “Dixie” from their name and made a triumphant return with their eighth studio album, “Gaslighter.”
The band — Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer — was exiled from the country music scene in 2003 after Maines criticized George W. Bush during a London concert, and it doesn’t shy away from politics on its latest effort, firing shots at the incompetence of America’s political leaders and calling for gun control. But the most prominent lyrical throughline in “Gaslighter” concerns Maines’ marriage and divorce from actor Adrian Pasdar, which she chronicles with unsparing specificity, scorn and fury.
They’ve removed ‘Dixie’ from their name and are set to release their first album in 14 years, one that might be the best of the Chicks’ tumultuous career.
According to People, Maines met Pasdar at band member Emily Strayer’s wedding to her first husband, Charlie Robison, in May 1999. On June 24, 2000, the couple had their nuptials at A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. Maines and Pasdar were married for 17 years, and they resided mainly in Los Angeles, with homes in Austin and New York City. The couple have two sons, Jackson Slade, 19, and Beckett Finn, 16.
In 2017, Maines filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.” She requested joint custody of their children, and the couple had a prenup for their finances. But Pasdar, who had starring roles on network TV dramas “Judging Amy” and “Heroes,” questioned the validity of their prenup and fought her on spousal support, claiming “poverty” and ultimately requesting that Maines pay him $60,000 a month. (He also alleged Maines owed him $450,000 for retroactive child support.) He told the court that Maines was the primary “breadwinner” and that he had sacrificed his career to care for their kids. Maines, however, claimed that their prenup stipulated that her money from the Dixie Chicks was, well, just hers.
During their legal battle, Pasdar also attempted to bar Maines (and the Chicks) from releasing new music, alleging there was something in their songs that broke the confidentiality clause in their prenup. But by October, they seemed to come to an agreement about their finances, though the settlement details have remained private. And after being embroiled in a two-year legal battle, their divorce was finalized on Dec. 19.
In March, the (now Dixie-less) Chicks released the lead single and title track from “Gaslighter,” a scathing tale in which the subject of Maines’ scorn — maybe Donald Trump, maybe Pasdar, maybe both — is called a “liar,” “denier” and someone who “broke” her. “Give you all my money, you’ll gladly walk away,” Maines sings (that rings more ex than Trump). One line in particular, about a mysterious event that happened on a boat — “ ‘Cause, boy, you know exactly what you did on my boat / And, boy, that’s exactly why you ain’t comin’ home” — sparked a frenzied internet investigation. Theories were plentiful: Was Maines thrown overboard, or did she find out her ex was a pirate? Online sleuths discovered in the midaughts, while they were married, Pasdar had purchased a boat that he named after Maines: the “Nautalee.”
In April, the band did its first official interview for “Gaslighter,” promoting the album with a cover story for Allure. Maines however, wouldn’t specifically address her lyrics “due to ongoing legal disputes.” When Howard Stern later went fishing for divorce gossip, she danced around his questions. “As far as relationship songs go, in our minds, the way we laid it out on the record, it kind of takes you through a journey,” she coyly told the radio show host.
When the full album finally dropped Friday, fans were quick to note that much of the album’s lyrics charted the choppy waters of a failed relationship. The aforementioned boat mystery floats to the surface again on the playful kiss-off “Tights on My Boat”: “Yeah, you can tell the girl who left her tights on my boat / That she can have you now,” Maines sings. (She did tell Stern the “tights” part was fiction.) The song also seemingly alludes to Pasdar’s entitlement (“Hey, will your dad pay your taxes now that I’m done?”) and wishes him nothing but the worst (“I hope you die peacefully in your sleep / Just kidding, I hope it hurts like you hurt me”).
“Sleep at Night” paints Pasdar (presumably) as a cheater: “My husband’s girlfriend’s husband just called me up / How messed up is that? / It’s so insane that I have to laugh.” Maines repeatedly asks during the chorus “How do you sleep at night?” while pointing out her ex’s “double life” and “lies.” On “Sleep at Night,” Maines also tackles the idea of parenting after her split. She doesn’t want her sons to take on the worst qualities of their father: “But then I think about our two boys trying to become men / There’s nothing funny about that.”
On the ballad “Everybody Loves You,” Maines grapples with how she should feel about her ex: “Why does everybody love you? They don’t know the things that I do,” she asks. “It’s my body, and I’m trying to / Forgive you, I don’t want to / It’s my body, and it hates you.”
On “My Best Friend’s Weddings,” Maines jabs an ex about his age: “In 20 years, 20 years, 20 years, yeah / I’ll still be younger than you.” (Maines is 45, Pasdar 55). On “Hope It’s Something Good,” she looks on the bright side of divorce: “Highs and lows, we fought our wars with silence / I’d have called you out, but baby, I knew you’d deny it / After so long, I learned to hold my tongue / And now that you’re done, I get to write this song.” Still, she sarcastically adds that she hopes his new lover is “really worth it.”
And on the gut-wrenching closer “Set Me Free,” Maines’ presents a final request for a simple kindness from the ex who caused so much pain: “If you ever loved me / Then will you do this one last thing? / Set me free, set me free,” she pleads.
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