Wide Open Spaces – The Dixie Chicks

THIS DAY IN MUSIC………………………………………on November 7th of 1998 The Dixie Chicks begin a four-week stay at #1 on Billboard’s Country Chart with “Wide Open Spaces”. This song was written by Susan Gibson, who was lead singer of a Texas-based band called The Groobees. She wrote the tune back in 1993 in a spirit of rebellion during her first return home from the University of Montana for Christmas break. The lyrics were so specific to Gibson’s own experience, including lines about her dad warning her to check the oil in her car, she was hesitant about giving away such a personal song. Then she heard the Dixie Chicks’ version: “It made me bawl my eyes out. It was so beautiful—it had this stunning musicianship and very professional production. I could still see my handwriting on the page, and here was this gorgeous recording of it.” Lloyd Maines, father of Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines, worked with The Groobees, and brought the song to the Chicks. The Groobees recorded their version in 1999. Thom Oliphant helmed the music video, which intercuts touring footage with the girls singing in open fields of wildflowers as well as performing at Winter Park, Colorado’s annual West Fest.The video was named the Country Music Association’s Video of the Year in 1999. The Groobees broke up a couple of years after this became a hit, partly because they couldn’t agree on how to handle the success. Gibson has since carved a career for herself as a solo artist, but still delights in hearing fans talk about the song: “Because the Dixie Chicks made that song so huge, I have enjoyed the look on people’s faces when they hear that I wrote that song. About 80 percent of the time, somebody has a cool story attached to it about leaving home, getting married, getting divorced, and breaking down in Moab, Utah. 19 percent of the time it’s like, ‘Oh! My mom loooooves that song!’ And there’s 1 percent out there that are like, ‘I don’t really listen to music.’ That’s OK. It’s the stories that I hear back from people that put a face to the huge numbers associated with that song.”