David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 158: Natalie Maines (Take It On Faith)

June 24, 2022

Now more than ever we need Natalie Maines. We need more Natalie Maines. We need her social consciousness, her courage, and her powerful voice, more than even.

If you don't believe me, fuck you. Take It On Faith.

"Take It On Faith" is the closing number from Maines' 2013 release, Mother. The song is no "Travelin' Soldier," which provided context for her public statement against George Bush on a 2003 Dixie Chicks' tour. It isn't even "Not Ready To Make Nice," the brilliant 2006 response to the political and public backlash to the Chicks. No, it is simply a love song. A love song that captures so perfectly that commitment two people must make to each other, through thick and through thin.

Co-written with famous slide guitarist, Ben Harper, and two other members of her band, "Take It On Faith" is classically constructed pop music, soft, understated opening, the voice the leading instrument as Maines seeks to comfort her lover (and herself):

"But the night is young/

Younger than we/

So let's burn right and wrong/

I'll forgive you/

And you'll forgive me."

Throughout the chorus, Maines' voice, which in all honesty I absolutely despise when channeled for true country ("Sin Wagon" or "There's Your Trouble"), is a thing of beauty.

"Take it on faith that I'll be there when the pain comes/

And I will take it on faith that you will try, try not to run/

When it's hard, so hard."

In the final bars of the song, everything amped up in intensity, with the cello providing chills for our spine, and Ben Harper's amazing manipulation of the slide guitar sounding like tears, Maines maintains the "take it onnnnnnnn faithhhhhhhhhhh, ohhhhhhh," and all I ask is, how can we not have faith in all that is beautiful in our world?

However, in the last week, with the assault on human bodies, through Supreme Court decisions about guns and abortion rights, Maines' second verse feels like the statement that reminds us commitments made between two people are all the more essential when we can't have faith in the commitments beyond those two people:

"I can be on fire, yeah, I can hold my own/

But inside I'm just a girl who's scared to be alone/

Today was hard but tomorrow's new/

And if you're there for me, I'll be there for you/

Yes, I will see us through"

Time may not heal everything, but love comes really close.

Normally I link to non-performance versions of songs, but in this case, I have to also use a live performance: Maines on Letterman.  The performance is spine-tingling, even if the song is shortened, and the reaction of Letterman, who was never reticent to show his appreciation for great live music on his show says it all. I have to assume Maines glided out of the studio that night. Take it on faith, Natalie, you can hold your own. Go out there and model that behavior for more little girls around the world. Maybe even a little boy will pick up on it too. That'll scare the far right!

Maines, Natalie. "Take It On Faith." Mother. Columbia, 2013. Album link here. Letterman live link here.

Day 157: Tim Booth "Monkey God."

Day 159: The Knack "Let Me Out."

See complete list here.