Fiddlin’ With “The Rose”

Sydney Morning Herald
By Bernard Zuel

There are weird gigs and there are weird gigs. Then there’s the gig the young Dixie Chicks were booked to play in small-town Texas 13 years ago.

It paid $100 – nothing to be sneezed at for the teenage Erwin sisters Emily and Martie who weren’t afraid of the odd bit of busking. All they had to do was sing The Rose, the Bette Midler tearjerker they knew back to front.

It’s just that one of the audience was dead. In fact, he was the guest of honour. The gig was a funeral, an open-casket funeral at that.

“Yes,” says the now Emily Robison after marrying musician Charlie Robison. “I had never been to a funeral before – and I was 16 or 17 – much less an open casket. And the man had died of cancer and so he was not, well, he should not have had an open casket.

“So we were standing behind the curtains, still not having seen anything. We were announced and walked out and I just started bawling and I couldn’t sing. It was humiliating and distressing at the same time.”

I’m guessing that was the first and last funeral they played.

“Oh, yes. Dixie Chicks and funerals, let’s just keep those things apart,” says Robison.

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