Twenty years ago today, on Jan. 27, 1998, the Dixie Chicks released their major-label debut album, Wide Open Spaces.
Formed in 1989 by Laura Lynch, Robin Lynn Macy and sisters Martie and Emily Erwin (now Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer), the Dixie Chicks released three albums as an independent band, in 1990, 1992 and 1993. In the summer of 1995, the then-trio (Macy had departed in ’92) signed a developmental deal with Sony Music Nashville. Natalie Maines replaced Lynch as the Dixie Chicks’ lead singer, and Sony signed the revamped group as the first artists on their newly revived Monument Records imprint.
In October of 1997, the Chicks released “I Can Love You Better” as the first single from Wide Open Spaces; the song reached the Top 10 on the country charts (No. 7). The album’s following three singles — “There’s Your Trouble,” “Wide Open Spaces” and “You Were Mine” — all reached No. 1, while the disc’s fifth and final single, “Tonight the Heartache’s on Me,” also earned a Top 10 spot (No. 6).
Following its release as a single, Wide Open Spaces‘ title track became one of the Dixie Chicks’ signature songs, and one of the most successful tunes of their career. Written by Susan Gibson, the track was inspired by a conversation that Gibson had while home from college over Christmas.
“”My mom probably said something like, ‘What time did you get home last night, honey?'” Gibson recalls (quote via Songfacts.com). “Whatever it was rubbed me the wrong way. I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote furiously for 12 minutes, and then I went and did something else. I forgot all about it.”
Wide Open Spaces has sold more than 12 million copies, setting the record for the best-selling duo or group album in country music history (in 1998, the year of the album’s release, the Dixie Chicks sold more CDs than all other country music groups combined.) The project also earned the Chicks a Grammys trophy, for Best Country Album, while “There’s Your Trouble” took home the award for Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal.
Wide Open Spaces is available for download on iTunes.
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.
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