Behind The Song: Dixie Chicks, “There’s Your Trouble”

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Written by Mark Selby and Tia Sillers

Songs take a while to marinate, and they often can’t be forced onto paper. Such is the way for “There’s Your Trouble,” recored by country juggernauts Dixie Chicks in 1998. Prolific songwriters Mark Shelby and Tia Sillers were used to writing together; in fact, they penciled in weekly sessions to concoct country music’s next smash.

Coming off a trio of singles recorded by Kenny Wayne Shepherd in 1997 (“Slow Ride,” “Somewhere, Somehow, Someway,” “Blue on Black”), Selby hadn’t quite struck a goldmine in the mainstream country market. In his creative collaboration with Sillers, who had penned Shepherd’s American Music Awards-winning “Blue on Black,” he found their songwriting perspectives fit like a glove.

“We had kind of banged our head against the wall, and typically we would get a song pretty easily. We were writing so well together at that point that we had a standard we met. We met every Tuesday to write,” Selby told The Tennessean in 2016. “And this was a rare day where we just couldn’t get something going. So we were just sitting around talking, about ready to call it quits. And as we were talking, as I usually do, I was noodling around on the guitar.”

There was a specific “little descending pattern,” as he remembered it, he was using as a foundation for a “sweet ballad.” But things weren’t quite working with that song either. He continued, “As we were talking, I was just kind of doing it like this [plays melody faster]. So, it was [there] and then we were off and running. Words just came tumbling out.”

Nearly everyone who heard the completed song believed it to be a hit 一 even their publisher. “I remember them exactly saying these words: ‘We’re gonna put on our sneakers and run with it.’ And we were like, ‘Okay!,’” said Sillers. “And this was back when all songs were on cassettes. So, you carried around like 200 seven-minute minute long cassettes so you were ready at any moment to hand them out to people. And so they ran and ran and ran and all these other artists recorded it, developing artists and established artists.”

Those artists included Reba McEntire and Wynonna. At the time, producer Brent Mayer (Kathy Mattea, Shelby Lynne, Kenny Rogers) was working on the new Wynonna record and tried valiantly to convince the country star to officially record the song. “He always felt like this was a hit since the first time he heard it,” said Selby. “He really wanted Wynonna to cut it and sent it out to her. She thought it was just too many words for her to spit out.”

“There’s Your Trouble” continued making the rounds and eventually landed with the Dixie Chicks. “Should have been different but / It wasn’t different, was it / Same old story, dear John, and so long,” laments Natalie Maines. “Should have fit like a glove / Should have fit like a ring / Like a diamond ring / A token of true love.”

The push and pull continues on the undeniable hook. “You keep seeing double with the wrong one / You can’t see I love you, you can’t see she doesn’t / But you just keep holding on / There’s your trouble.”

“There’s Your Trouble” served as the band’s second single off 1998’s major label debut, Wide Open Spaces, and it went on to become their very first No. 1 single on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks (dated August 1998). The following year, the song earned the band a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

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