Dixie Chicks' 'Wide Open Spaces' Turns 20: Ranking All the Songs
The major label debut of the Dixie Chicks came in the form of Wide Open Spaces, a powerhouse country album that was released 20 years ago today on Jan. 27, 1998. Not only did the album -- which introduced the masses to Natalie Maines, Martie Seidel, and Emily Erwin -- reach No. 1 on the Top Country Albums charts, it earned them the coveted Best Country Album Grammy.
Like most albums of this era, Wide Open Spaces now feels like something of a time capsule, especially because this is pre-political Chicks. But Wide Open Spaces is still near-perfect and serves as a reminder why fans fell so hard for them in the first place.
As we listen back to the album that started it all, here’s our ranking of the songs on Wide Open Spaces.
12. “Never Say Die”: Sadly, not a tribute to The Goonies, rather a heartfelt ode to all the couples out there who stick it out in the face of adversity.
11. “Loving Arms”: A showcase for all of the Chicks’ impressive vocal work on this album and beyond, it’s got a molasses slow pace you’ve simply got to be in the mood for.
10. “Once You’ve Loved Somebody”: Perhaps now an example of just how far the Chicks have come, this stinging tribute to the resignation of heartache is a far cry from the take-no-shit attitude the band has since become known for.
9. “I’ll Take Care of You”: Twenty years later, the opening line “Times are hard and rents are high” still strikes one hell of a familiar chord, doesn’t it?
8. “I Can Love You Better”: The album-opener allows the Chicks’ vocals to soar from the get-go with the “do-do-do” harmonies, but let’s be honest, the song tends to get skipped over to get to the main event: “Wide Open Spaces.”
7. “Let ‘Er Rip”: Practically custom-made for those boot-scootin’ dance halls, this short and sweet ditty is two-and-a-half-minutes of old-fashioned country music fun.
6. “Am I the Only One (Who’s Ever Felt This Way)”: If frustration about the perils of loneliness had a country anthem, it would by this ditty, which practically comes and goes with no warning, just like the fella who broke your heart.
5. “There’s Your Trouble”: If there’s a recurring theme on Wide Open Spaces, it’s assuring a certain man that he’s with the wrong lady and that the Chicks are, in fact, the right woman. (Who would ever argue otherwise, honestly?) In the end, however, “There’s Your Trouble” gets the edge over “I Can Love You Better.”
4. “Give It Up or Let Me Go”: Wide Open Spaces’ closer is the perfect album finale, sending things off on a high note thanks in huge part to the fiery lyrics from Bonnie Raitt and the inclusion of the steel and electric guitar work, respectively, of Tony Paoletta and Tommy Nash.
3. “Tonight the Heartache’s on Me”: Taking Joy Lynn White’s barroom ballad and making it their very own twangy toe-tapper, this single demonstrated how Maines’ lead vocals were perfectly complemented by the band’s instrumentals. In the Dixie Chicks, no one is second fiddle -- not even the fiddle, especially here.
2. “You Were Mine”: Penned by Erwin and Seidel, this heartbreaker of a ballad about the harrowing end of a marriage hits the country music sweet spot of crooning about love lost, and no one does that better here (or pretty much anywhere else for that matter) than Maines.
1. “Wide Open Spaces”: It’s the single that defines not only this album (both literally and figuratively), but it’s the one that biggest struck the chord with fans in 1998. Not only is the empowerment anthem the best song on the album, it remains one of the band’s most beloved songs. Twenty years later and you’d better believe we’re still singing that chorus at the top of our lungs with the windows rolled down.