14. Dixie Chicks – ‘Top Of The World’ (2002)

“Everyone’s singing, we just wanna be heard
Disappearing every day without so much as a word, somehow
I think I broke the wings of that little songbird
She’s never gonna fly to the top of the world”

Written by Patty Griffin

Produced by Dixie Chicks/Lloyd Maines

Taken from the album Home

Also released on Top Of The World Tour: Live

‘Top Of The World’ shows us that silence can be just as important as music when creating a world through sound. The pauses and moments of reflection in the song are almost as harrowing as the soaring vocals, the lyrics that are full of regret, the almost unbelievable amount of pure emotion. You rarely hear a performance this powerful. Home is by far the best Dixie Chicks album, and it closes with their greatest song, written by Patty Griffin but truly brought to life by this incredible group.

The lyrics tell the story of a man looking back on the world from his afterlife, thinking of everything he could have done to let the people in his life know how he felt about them. ‘Top Of The World’ slowly rises and rises, beginning with the sound we’ve become used to on the rest of Home: acoustic instruments, traditional country sensibility, and no frills. As the song slowly progresses over the next six minutes, all those elements become stronger, as Natalie’s voice intensifies.

The incredible climax comes after an extended instrumental section. Natalie begins to sing wordlessly, and then repeat “to the top of the world, to the top of the world”. Her vocals here are just gorgeous, but in such a way that you never forget that this is a sad, depressing song. There is beauty to be found within the pain of the lyrics and the regret in her performance. The crowning achievement of modern country.

Music video:

Live at An Evening With The Dixie Chicks:

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