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Dixie Chicks Hit No. 1:

Although some country stations refuse to play their music, the Dixie Chicks seem are doing okay. Their new album hit number one in sales on the Billboard charts this week, and also topped the country album charts. Either their fans don't care about the trio's politics -- or they do care, and the Chicks are more popular than President Bush.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Dixie Chicks Tour Problems:
  2. Dixie Chicks Hit No. 1:
  3. Sunday Song Lyric:
Cornellian (mail):
These days, "more popular than President Bush" isn't much of an achievement.

I've never purchased a song of theirs, or even heard one, but Natalie Maines is awfully cute.
6.1.2006 6:30pm
Hattio (mail):
Cornellian

I don't disagree with you about Natalie Maines, but the other two are even better looking. And BTW, I would bet you've at least heard one of their songs, even despite efforts not to.
6.1.2006 6:38pm
Cornellian (mail):
Hattio,

Gotta part company with you on the one with the dark brown hair. Natalie is definitely better looking than her. I'm not quite sure what the third one looks like so I'll reserve judgment there.
6.1.2006 6:44pm
Gary Imhoff (mail) (www):
I would postulate a third explanation: the Dixie Chicks have abandoned and insulted their original country music fans, and are now bidding for pop music stardom. The early sales of their album are not to country music fans, but to those who are buying it as a political statement, even though the album itself isn't particularly political. It's a gamble for the Chicks: will their new audience stay with them and listen to a kind of music that wouldn't normally be their first preference? Will the Chicks have to abandon any hint of country twang to please their new audience? Will they have to routinely issue political statements to maintain a fan base that is attracted to them primarily as political symbols, and will they become the pop music equivalents of Susan Sarandon?
6.1.2006 6:46pm
Cornellian (mail):
GI I'm skeptical about that theory. I think it's plausible that music fans might avoid music by bands who make political statments they find highly offensive, but it seems much less plausible that fans would buy music they don't really like because the band has made political statements they approve of, or even highly approve of.
6.1.2006 6:51pm
h0mi:
I'd surmise their success has a lot more to do with the recent media exposure of theirs; their first single peaked in the 30s in the various top 40 charts in march.
6.1.2006 7:04pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
Has anyone seen the tasteful and understated photo the Chicks posed for for Time Magazine? My only concern is that the photo, which shows the trio surrounded by arrows against a red-white-and-blue bullseye, might be a little too subtle for a mass audience. I think they should consider reshooting the photo, this time with each of them wearing a crown of thorns and "nailed" to a big cross.

- Alaska Jack
6.1.2006 7:04pm
Silicon Valley Jim:
the Dixie Chicks have abandoned and insulted their original country music fans, and are now bidding for pop music stardom

I'm not going to comment on whether they've insulted their original country music fans, but their latest release sounds a whole lot less country to me than previous releases. There's no banjo (at one point, one member of the band was a competent, if unexceptional, banjo picker; I don't know whether there's been a change in personnel), no steel guitar, and no fiddle on "I'm Not Ready to Make Nice". There is a 1960s/1970s rock-style organ sound on it. You don't have to be a purist of the "please, no George Strait" type to think that the latest release isn't country.
6.1.2006 7:09pm
Edward M. Graham (mail):
Alaska Jack: Too late. Kanye West already did the crown-of-thorns pose for Rolling Stone.
6.1.2006 7:13pm
Splunge (mail):
...it seems much less plausible that fans would buy music they don't really like because the band has made political statements they approve of, or even highly approve of.

What about Band Aid, Live Aid, and the Lilith Fair? Inasmuch as it's a luxury good and highly substitutable, I'd say demand for pop music is probably very elastic. Hence it's likely consumer behaviour at the margins is influenced by such inessentia as the "statement" one makes by buying or not buying it. If we were talking about gasoline or lumber I think you'd have a better case.
6.1.2006 7:14pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
If people are buying for political reasons rather than whether they like or dislike the music, then you have what statisticians call a "disturbed universe." Put it another way -- if flies are allowed to vote, how meaningful would a poll on what to have for dinner be, and what would be on the menu?
6.1.2006 7:42pm
Chris Lawrence (mail) (www):
From Amazon.com's review page:

I have never bought a dixie chicks cd before and i will admit to buying this one because the chicks have been so defiant in regards to idiots who dont like them for their political views or what they said about the president. Also, i have never bought a cd by a country group or artist but i wanted to support the chicks for standing up to the morons in this country. I am glad i bought it because its a very enjoyable cd. I absolutely LOVE I'm not ready to make nice!!!! All the songs have nice melodies and are very catchey.

Anecdotes, mind you, are not data...
6.1.2006 7:50pm
lawClerk (mail):
Used to own a Dixie Chick's album, being a Southerner and a fan of country. Won't buy another one. So, add that to your anecdotes.
6.1.2006 8:17pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Are they singers or something? I never heard of a football team by that name.
6.1.2006 8:32pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
There's no banjo (at one point, one member of the band was a competent, if unexceptional, banjo picker; I don't know whether there's been a change in personnel), no steel guitar, and no fiddle on "I'm Not Ready to Make Nice".

Emily Robison (married to Charlie Robison, so her Brother and sister-in-law are Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, which probably means nothing to most of you) is the banjo player, and she is much more than "competent, if unexceptional". They just can't cut a break, can they. First they are criticized because they won't drop the banjo and now there isn't enough banjo. Jonathon sneers at them for dissing their fans and then notes without comment that their album is number one--although I am kind of surprised that he posted the inconvenient fact after his last post.
6.1.2006 8:33pm
Silicon Valley Jim:
Freder -

I meant no insult by referring to her as "competent, if unexceptional". I meant simply that she couldn't be compared to, say, J.D. Crowe or Terry Baucom. Nor am I saying that there isn't enough banjo. I'm simply saying that the absence of the banjo is one indication that their newer sound isn't really country.

Best,

Jim
6.1.2006 8:46pm
guest (mail):
They're absolutely brilliant musicians. I won't buy this one. I'm not alone. So instead of being number one with a supersonic rocket, they're merely number one.
6.1.2006 8:59pm
ed:
Either their fans don't care about the trio's politics -- or they do care, and the Chicks are more popular than President Bush.

Yes, these are the only two possibilities. No chance that someone would care about (and even disagree with) their politics, but nevertheless consider that irrelevant to whether or not they like their music, is there?

It is, for most people, quite possible to appreciate art despite disagreeing with the politics of the artist. I realize that's becoming less true these days, where criticism of the president is regarded by some as lèse majesté, but there's still plenty of people for whom that holds.
6.1.2006 9:12pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Whenever I hear of the Dixie Chicks I think of that porno series "Chicks with Dicks". And Natalie Maines is a porker,the lead singer from the Bangles was much hotter and didn't push her leftwing islamofascistic political agenda on you,even thought she was arab.
6.1.2006 9:15pm
Jared K.:
How noble of you. I assume you also won't read a book, watch a movie, or buy your groceries from anyone who isn't part of the 29% of this country still chest-beatingly proud of Mr. Bush.
6.1.2006 9:17pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
I think Toby Keith's politics suck, but I still listen to some of his stuff. What's the fuss?
6.1.2006 9:37pm
Shangui (mail):
Whenever I hear of the Dixie Chicks I think of that porno series "Chicks with Dicks". And Natalie Maines is a porker,the lead singer from the Bangles was much hotter and didn't push her leftwing islamofascistic political agenda on you,even thought she was arab.

Most of this just speaks for itself.

But I will note that there's quite a bit of ground between saying one is embarrassed to be from the same state as President Bush and "push[ing] [a] leftwing Islamofascistic political agenda." I'm not sure what a "leftwing Islamofascistic political agenda" would be beyond an oxymoron.

But hey, enjoy your tranny vids while listening to "Walk Like an Egyptian," dude.
6.1.2006 9:44pm
Cornellian (mail):
And Natalie Maines is a porker,the lead singer from the Bangles was much hotter and didn't push her leftwing islamofascistic political agenda on you,even thought she was arab.

Natalie Maines isn't fat.

Speaking of 80's girl bands, I always had a thing for Belinda Carlisle.
6.1.2006 9:52pm
Johnny Hellhole:
For what it's worth, I'm thankful they are expressing their opinion in a public way, even if it is a calculated marketing move. I never would have bought a country album prior to this (other than classic stuff), but I will buy the new Chicks album. This controversy will be great for their careers.
6.1.2006 9:58pm
ArmedGeek (mail) (www):
I agree that the Dixie Chicks are chasing a pop style as opposed to country. That said, country music is not really the same in all parts of the country. I've listened (via internet) to country stations in other areas and compared to my local stations (houston), they ain't country. They seem more .. pop-lite.

For real country music dial in KILT in houston (available on the internet) especially on Sunday nights when they play only Texas artists.
6.1.2006 9:59pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
The Bangles had more top 40 hits than the Chicks so far. Natalie Maines IS fat,so is Belinda Carlisle. Liz Phair is hot though, she could sing Kum Bah Jah and Happy Days are Here again and I'll still watch.
6.1.2006 10:06pm
Tennessean (mail):
I wonder how much their Howard Stern interview is helping sales? I'm sure the middle-of-America fans would be very impressed; here is one of the tamest portions:
Howard: Ever have sex with a woman?

Chicks: No (through lots of giggles).

Howard: Any of you ever have a threesome?

Brief silence and then some laughter.

Martie: I did.
(More detailshere.)
6.1.2006 10:07pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
The Bangles had more top 40 hits than the Chicks so far.

The Chicks are infinitely more talented than the Bangles and are the best selling "Girl Group" (for lack of a better term) of all time.
6.1.2006 10:20pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
My brother bought the CD -- I'm a fan. I think Cornellian underestimates the good publicity here. It won't get me to listen to music I don't like, but if a lot of people check this CD out, I think they'll like it. All this publicity could well be getting northern liberals like me to check it out, and then to realize that this "country" stuff isn't as weird as we thought.

If it were a concerted political/musical effort to escape the world of country, it might not be a bad one.
6.1.2006 10:24pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I'm sure the middle-of-America fans would be very impressed

Oh grow up. It's the twenty-first century. Maybe those of us in the middle-of-America aren't so shocked about sex talk anymore.
6.1.2006 10:30pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
It takes skill to make "Walk like an Egyptian" go platinum. And ever see the video? why didn't the &*&*&*&* protest that one? I know it wasn't realistic, I've been to Egypt and they don't really walk that way.

[POST EDITED BY MODERATOR]
6.1.2006 10:31pm
Ubertrout (mail) (www):
I'm a little confused to read this post. I was under the apprehension that sales of this album were substantially lower than those for the previous two.
6.1.2006 10:47pm
Tennessean (mail):
Freder - Thanks for the glib insult. Since we are going to be a bit less than generous in our readings, I wonder where you are in Middle America and how good your grasp of the locals is.

Here in the self-asserted capital of country music (where there was considerable discomfort with a nude statue on Music Row), I doubt the fans of country music are would be that pleased with:
* apparently drug-induced casual sex with multiple partners;
* public conversations regarding the time "[Marty] asked Natalie to check her dress and she had a stain because she got kind of moist from the interviewer who was there";
* public conversations regarding "which of the girls give the best head";
* "stories [which] start off 'So, I was giving this guy a blow job...'";
* a public review of which girls "swallow it"; and
* a public review of pubic shaving preferences.

There is a big difference between "sex talk," as you put it, and very detailed discussions of often liberal sexual practices (including sex outside of marriage) in a public interview by a group that already, in the minds of many, have a big, big strike against them.

This interview supports Mr. Imhoff's suggestion that the Chicks have decided to look to the pop market, where talk like this may well help sales, rather than the country market, where at best this sort of talk will have no negative effect.
6.1.2006 10:48pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Country songs don't include "sex talk"? ever heard "Why don't we just get drunk and Screw?"?
6.1.2006 10:56pm
Tennessean (mail):
Frank: I presume you are responding to me. Of course there are country songs which have "sex talk" -- which Southerner hasn't been introduced to David Allen Coe at some point.

However, "[t]here is a big difference between 'sex talk' and very detailed discussions of often liberal sexual practices (including sex outside of marriage) in a public interview by a group that already, in the minds of many, have a big, big strike against them."
6.1.2006 10:58pm
billyg03038 (mail):
Again... Why must it be ONLY about what they said about President Bush.

In the lead up to this album, the Dixie Chicks have said -

1. They don't consider themselves "Country" anymore.
2. They don't want fans like Toby and Reba have...
3. They think Country fans are nothing but stereotypical...

That sounds like enough reasons for me. But, NOOOOO, we can't discus these things, it MUST ONLY BE about what was said about the president. Face it, they can't stop alienating country fans, and then, it must be the fans fault, as they are "just expressing their opinions".

If I was in a sales type situation, I wouldn't be telling my customers that they are stereotypical, I don't want to make their kind of product, and don't really want people like them to buy the product, and expect them to want it.

I believe that they have made the business decision that they aren't going to get the country fans back, and are striving for fans that look down on country to pick up the slack. Sounds like they may have made the right decision, but people should stop just looking at the "President" thing, and listen to what they've been saying, recently.
6.1.2006 11:19pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
This is just a gentle reminder about the VC comment policy. Please try and keep posts substantive and civil. I would think it possible to discuss the substance of the post without restort to epithets, invective, or anything else that might detract from teh discussion.

Thanks.

JHA
6.1.2006 11:45pm
Adam (www):
There are only three states where the President has a positive net approval rating. Two-thirds of the state have his "disapprove" at 60% or higher.

So don't underestimate the popularity of their views.
6.1.2006 11:47pm
Peter Wimsey:
Country fans aren't a monolith any more than rock fans are, so I think this discussion about what "country fans" are going to do is silly. Britney Spears and Bruce Springsteen are both "rock musicians" (at least on some albums), but I don't think you can generalize concerning their fans. Even pre-Natalie's Bush comment, the Dixie Chicks certainly appealed to a different demographic than Toby Keith does, for example. In much the same way that Kenny Rogers and Lyle Lovette seemed to have different fans.

And while all genres are somewhat artificial, I've listened to a couple of songs from the DC's latest album and, well, they're country. I don't know enough about all of their work to know whether they are *less* country than they used to be - but they are definitely country.
6.1.2006 11:52pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
What was Jesus's approval rating back in 33 or 34 AD? W is actually taking some tough positions. The popular thing would be to drop hydrogen bombs on Mexico City, Tehran, and Paris, declare martial law and shoot all unapproved border violators on site, and sieze the Iraqis oil on grounds of war reparations. I can imagine Howard Dean actually doing all these things.
6.1.2006 11:57pm
Truth Seeker:
Bush got over 59,000,000 votes. How many people bought the album to make it number one? A few hundred thousand? Record charts don't represent the country, just music buyers.
(Even if his popularity dropped to 29% of 117,000,000 voters it's a lot more than bought the album.)
6.2.2006 12:04am
Shangui (mail):
What was Jesus's approval rating back in 33 or 34 AD? W is actually taking some tough positions.

Is this some kind of reverse Goodwin's Law that comes into effect here? Does comparing W to Jesus automatically end the discussion? One hopes so.
6.2.2006 12:11am
Derrick (mail):
Random Thougts by Frank Drackmann
6.2.2006 12:15am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Its T-H-O-U-G-H-T-S, check out the National Spelling Bee thats on ESPN, you might learn something. Does anyone remember the home schooled girl who won in the early 90's? She had this strange memory technique that made it look like she had epilepsy. She made news because she didn't get the standard invite to the White House afterwards( in the Bush the elder administration)because of her home schooled status.
6.2.2006 12:26am
Ken Arromdee:
There are only three states where the President has a positive net approval rating. Two-thirds of the state have his "disapprove" at 60% or higher.

On the other hand, a chunk of that is because he seems to want illegal immigration. I'd imagine that someone who dislikes Bush on those grounds is unlikely to support a band that dislikes Bush from a left-wing perspective.
6.2.2006 12:38am
Shangui (mail):
Its T-H-O-U-G-H-T-S, check out the National Spelling Bee thats on ESPN, you might learn something.

Actually, it's "it's" not "its." Might want to be careful about such things when attacking people for their typos.
6.2.2006 12:47am
Stonebreaker:
For me it is as simple as this--I prefer to keep my entertainment separate from my politics. I don't need to know, nor do I care how any entertainer feels about the war in Iraq, President Bush or politics in general. This is the Tim Robbins-Susan Sarandon-George Clooney Syndrome run amok. Who cares what any of them think? Not I. Entertain me and leave your politics at home.

Maines seems to see herself as courageous by making her view concerning Bush known while performing on stage. I see her as clueless. It takes no courage to denounce Bush in Great Britain. She was preaching to the choir.
6.2.2006 2:15am
Just:
"The concept of "blind spot," in particular, means nothing to them."

See, that's what we've been trying to tell you regarding military strategy ...
6.2.2006 5:37am
Some Guy (mail):
Actually, their label is "puffing" them. Anyone can have a "Number 1" record. It;s when the record stores start shipping the thing back and Wal Mart's deep discounts start hurting that the boys are seperated from the men. Watch for the label to run out of marketing money sometime in the next few weeks and those slags drop down to low sales again.

By the way, no I would NOT hit it. Not attractive in the least, considering how they have a full-time makeup and hair person slathering those hags up to make them look presentable and what they look like now is the best he can do.
6.2.2006 8:10am
Andy Freeman (mail):
Does good sales mean that the criticism is wrong?
6.2.2006 9:30am
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Since when does the approval of the American public, or any public for that matter, mean anything - especially in the realm of entertainment? We live in a country where "Home Improvement" ran for something like 6 or 7 years. H-O-M-E, freaking, I-M-P-R-O-V-E-M-E-N-T.
6.2.2006 10:00am
Shangui (mail):
Since when does the approval of the American public, or any public for that matter, mean anything - especially in the realm of entertainment?

I couldn't agree more. But I think the responses in the comments here are due to Jonathan's earlier (a few days ago) post implying that they would not win back their fans because they were insufficiently contrite about the statement about Bush some years back. Since we don't seem to know who, exactly, is buying the record (though lots of people clearly are), I suppose that question is left unanswered.
6.2.2006 10:11am
@ndrew (mail):
Peter makes a very important point about the diversity of "country music" fans. I haven't heard their new album, but their prior album was a terrific full-fledged country album. Yet at the same time, it really was not an album that would appeal to fans of Toby Keith and other modern-day Nashville country radio fans. "Country" radio has shifted drastically away from the roots of country music in the past ~20 years (See Shania Twain, Toby Keith, Faith Hill, etc.) Even as country radio has gone more and more pop-friendly, there has been an ever-increasing community of fans of traditional country music (See the recent Johnny Cash craze) as well as fans of alternative-country (alt. country). In the past several years, the Dixie Chicks fanbase has shifted from the pop-country folks to the latter groups. The cause? I suspect it's a combination of the change in their sound, coupled with a newfound respect amongst "hipsters" for their political statements.
6.2.2006 11:03am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Freder - Thanks for the glib insult. Since we are going to be a bit less than generous in our readings, I wonder where you are in Middle America and how good your grasp of the locals is.

Well let's see, I grew up in Chicago suburbs, and after college spent most of my adult life in Atlanta, Alexandria, Virginia (where I lived 3/4 mile from the south), Kansas City, and now New Orleans. That middle-America enough for you?
6.2.2006 11:07am
aces:
Actually, their label is "puffing" them. Anyone can have a "Number 1" record. It;s when the record stores start shipping the thing back and Wal Mart's deep discounts start hurting that the boys are seperated from the men. Watch for the label to run out of marketing money sometime in the next few weeks and those slags drop down to low sales again.


I showed this to my girlfriend, who used to run an independent record store. She says that ain't so; nowadays, most sales are tracked as they occur in the stores or online. Although sales at the band's shows aren't tracked, the charts today are more accurate than they've ever been.
6.2.2006 11:32am
Freder Frederson (mail):
In the past several years, the Dixie Chicks fanbase has shifted from the pop-country folks to the latter groups. The cause? I suspect it's a combination of the change in their sound, coupled with a newfound respect amongst "hipsters" for their political statements.

The Dixie Chicks are certainly on the commercial edge of the alt country scene. As I noted above, Emily Robison is married to Charlie Robison, brother of Bruce Robison, who in turn is married to Kelly Willis, three of the biggest names on the alt-country scene (and the Robison brothers also are successful songwriters for more mainstream Country artists in their own right). And Emily and Martie Maguire's father is a well-known session musician in Texas.
6.2.2006 11:39am
h0mi:
I was under the apprehension that sales of this album were substantially lower than those for the previous two.

I think you meant 'impression'. This album sold ~550k albums its first week of release. Yes that was more than Tobey Keith's latest offering (~300k), but is still 200k less than their album in 2000 (I think was their last album before this one). I expect this album will reach platinum status shortly and might go as high as triple or quad platinum.
6.2.2006 11:58am
DeezRightWingNutz:
Actually, "apprehension" can be used as a synonym for impression or understanding. More often, I see its antonym "misapprehension" used.

This got me thinking...

What is the longest unbroken chain of posts criticizing grammar or word choice that also contain grammatical or diction errors? I frequently see up to two or three, but it's a big Internet, there must be much longer chains. If anyone has any humorous posts with links, I'd be interested in seeing them.
6.2.2006 3:47pm
Perry (mail):
The chicks sold a lot of albums prior to "the comment" and are selling and will continue to sell plenty of albums "post comment". What's the big deal all about?

I think that all that this case proves is that in the long run all but the most diehard (read - nutjob) of far right/left wingers would ever care about, let alone seriously influence their musical decision making on that artist's political views.

Also, i've seen them perform twice, and never heard any comments about politics one way or the other. I'm not sure about this but am included to believe that is in no way a regular part of their stage act. If everyone is to be crucified for publicly uttering disbelief at the policies of this administration, we've got a lot of people to demonize. Better start soon...
6.2.2006 4:32pm
WFU03:
FYI -- The Dixie Chicks are also #1 on Real Rhapsody right now (meaning most played among Rhapsody users).

I gave their album a listen and it's good...don't know if it's as good as their past work, but it's good music.
6.2.2006 4:40pm
Meryl Yourish (www):
Some Guy: If I'm not mistaken, Billboard uses POS stats as well as radio airplay. So the numbers more accurately reflect the album sales. Sorry, CD sales. Old habit.
6.2.2006 5:52pm
Left Of The Dial (mail) (www):
I wanted to thank "Tennessean" for linking my blog post about the Dixie Chicks appearance on the Howard Stern Show last week. I was wondering where the sudden flood of readers were coming from.

I've been reading these comments with interest. I work in country radio and have heard all sides of this so-called argument and have come to the conclusion that, in the end and politics aside, the music will always prevail (526,000 sold with little or no country radio airplay).

And before "middle America" gets its bloomers in a knot over the racy Stern Show interview the Chicks gave, they should know that that's the norm for a Howard Stern guest and as Stern interviews go, it was fairly tame.
6.2.2006 6:36pm
SP:
I can't believe anyone is actually defending the "talent" of the Dixie Chicks. If so talented, why did they maul a slam dunk song like "Landslide"?
6.2.2006 7:48pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Hilary Duffs got more talent in her little finger than Natalie has in her big mouth.
6.2.2006 8:09pm
Baseballhead (mail):
Hilary Duffs got more talent in her little finger than Natalie has in her big mouth.

Now THAT is funny. Any sentence that begins, "Hilary Duff's got more talent than
6.2.2006 10:50pm
Baseballhead (mail):
Hilary Duffs got more talent in her little finger than Natalie has in her big mouth.

Now THAT is funny. Any sentence that begins, "Hilary Duff's got more talent than ... insert person or group of people is funny. Incredibly wrong, but funny nevertheless. And I can't post.
6.2.2006 10:52pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
OH really?? well she's got more talent than Al Gore dammit,and she only polutes the ozone about 1/3 as much.
6.2.2006 11:49pm
Ed W.:
good for the Chicks if they can sell - but I think the issue isn't as simple as that.

see, in the world of music, there's this funny deal the labels have with the retailers of the world. they pre-sell the albums to the retailers based on how many numbers the retailers can push, then the labels base their gold, platinum, etc sales records based sales to retailers. the labels then use these numbers as pr to show how popular an album is.
6.4.2006 8:46pm