1998, Music

Wide Open Spaces (1998) by Dixie Chicks

I understand why this was a hit: it finds a middle ground between the slick sound of Nashville and a rootsier sound of bluegrass that was, I assume, mostly completely out of favour with the Nashville sound due to Garth Brooks, Shania, et al. And Maines is a compelling, alluring lead singer. Though I literally have no idea whether or not the band was successful before she joined, it’s easy to imagine that, if it wasn’t, she had a lot to do with taking their sound to a large audience.

Alas, this is not the kind of country I like.

The bluegrass vibe feels like a tease to me. As a fan of actual bluegrass, I’d much rather listen to actual bluegrass than bluegrass-tinged country pop. The fiddles and dobros just remind me of what I’m missing.

The selection of songs isn’t great, either. The originals don’t really distinguish themselves and the covers…well, I don’t know any of them but I doubt any of them are definitive. The one exception is the final cover where the Chicks finally subvert something and play around with a dumb male singer trope about getting in a woman’s pants. Sung by women, it’s funny and revealing. But it’s literally the only time my brain turned on. (Turns out, it’s a Bonnie Raitt song, so they’re just piggybacking on her subversion. Ah well.)

Everything is very professional and it’s hard to deny they aren’t talented. I just prefer a different kind of country.


  1. “I Can Love You Better” (Pamela Brown Hayes, Kostas) – 3:53
  2. “Wide Open Spaces” (Susan Gibson) – 3:44
  3. “Loving Arms” (Tom Jans) – 3:37
  4. “There’s Your Trouble” (Mark Selby, Tia Sillers) – 3:10
  5. “You Were Mine” (Emily Erwin, Martie Seidel) – 3:37
  6. “Never Say Die” (George Ducas, Radney Foster) – 3:56
  7. “Tonight the Heartache’s on Me” (Mary W. Francis, Johnny MacRae, Bob Morrison) – 3:25
  8. “Let ‘Er Rip” (Billy Crain, Sandy Ramos) – 2:49
  9. “Once You’ve Loved Somebody” (Thom McHugh, Bruce Miller) – 3:28
  10. “I’ll Take Care of You” (J. D. Souther) – 3:40
  11. “Am I the Only One (Who’s Ever Felt This Way)” (Maria McKee) – 3:25
  12. “Give It Up or Let Me Go” (Bonnie Raitt) – 4:55
  • Natalie Maines – vocals
  • Emily Erwin – acoustic guitar, banjo, Dobro, vocals
  • Martie Seidel – fiddle, mandolin, vocals

Additional personnel

  • Mark Casstevens – acoustic guitar
  • Bobby Charles, Jr. – bass guitar
  • Joe Chemay – bass guitar
  • Billy Crain – acoustic guitar
  • Lloyd Maines – steel guitar
  • George Marinelli – electric guitar
  • Greg Morrow – drums
  • Tommy Nash – electric guitar on “Give It Up or Let Me Go”
  • Tony Paoletta – steel guitar on “Give It Up or Let Me Go”
  • Michael Rhodes – bass guitar
  • Tom Roady – shaker, congas, tambourine
  • Matt Rollings – piano, Hammond organ
  • Billy Joe Walker, Jr. – acoustic guitar, electric guitar
  • Paul Worley – acoustic guitar, electric guitar

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