Music

Story Behind the Song: How a Mother's Encouragement Inspired the Dixie Chicks' 'Wide Open Spaces'

When you think of the Dixie Chicks does "Wide Open Spaces" immediately come to mind? It's one of the trio's signature songs and is widely considered one of the greatest '90s country songs of all time. It's incredibly catchy, fun to sing along to and the lyrics can resonate with anyone. But did you know that the song actually got its start back in 1993, five years before it appeared as the title track of their country album Wide Open Spaces?

Susan Gibson actually started writing the song after coming back home for a visit from the University of Montana. Gibson grew up making frequent trips from Amarillo, Texas to Missoula, Montana with her family and those trips served as inspiration for the future hit song.

She wrote the beginnings of the lyrics in a notebook, which she left at home. Her mother mailed the pages to her at school, encouraging her to finish. Gibson performed the song around her university town where it became a popular request.

Fast forward a few years and Gibson is now the lead singer of the alt-country band The Groobees. They decided to include "Wide Open Spaces" on their album and guess who their producer was? Lloyd Maines. That's right, the father of Dixie Chicks lead singer, Natalie Maines. He thought the song would be perfect for the trio and they agreed. After testing it on a couple of audiences, they made it the title track for their major-label debut.

Read More: The Story Behind the Dixie Chicks' Controversial Hit 'Goodbye Earl'

Gibson and her strong lyrics about a girl leaving home have resonated as an example of West Texas's influence on country music songwriting. She was named BMI's Writer of the Year in 1999

The Chicks' version was an immediate hit in Nashville and around the country. It was an American number one hit and even hit the top of the charts in Canada. Maines and bandmates Emily Robison (then Emily Erwin) and Martie Maguire (then Martie Seidel) won the CMA Single of the Year as well as the CMA Music Video of the Year. The song itself wasn't nominated for a Grammy, but the album won the Grammy for Best Country Album and "There's Your Trouble" won Best Performance by a Duo or Group.

'Wide Open Spaces' Lyrics:

Who doesn't know what I'm talking about?

Who's never left home, who's never struck out

To find a dream and a life of their own

A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

Many precede and many will follow

A young girl's dreams no longer hollow

It takes the shape of a place out west

But what it holds for her, she hasn't yet guessed

She needs wide open spaces

Room to make her big mistakes

She needs new faces

She knows the high stakes

She traveled this road as a child

Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired

But now she won't be coming back with the rest

If these are life's lessons, she'll take this test

She needs wide open spaces

Room to make her big mistakes

She needs new faces

She knows the high stakes

She knows the high stakes

As her folks drive away, her dad yells, "Check the oil!"

Mom stares out the window and says, "I'm leaving my girl"

She said, "It didn't seem like that long ago"

When she stood there and let her own folks know

She needed wide open spaces

Room to make her big mistakes

She needs new faces

She knows the high stakes

She knows the high stakes

She knows the highest stakes

She knows the highest stakes

She knows the highest stakes

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Story Behind the Song: How a Mother's Encouragement Inspired the Dixie Chicks' 'Wide Open Spaces'