“XXXs and OOOs” Writer vs. Gone With the Wind

Alice Randall, who co-wrote Trisha Yearwood’s 1994 hit, “XXXs and OOOs (An American Girl),” is embroiled in a legal battle over her forthcoming novel, The Wind Done Gone. The book tells the story of Gone With the Wind from the slaves’ point of view.

Representatives of the estate of Margaret Mitchell, who wrote Gone With the Wind, are asking the U. S. District Court in Atlanta to issue a restraining order blocking publication of the new book. A hearing on the matter will be held today (March 29).

Randall, who is black, is a 1981 graduate of Harvard. She moved to Nashville in the 1980s to establish herself as a country songwriter and, after a series of odd jobs, scored several minor successes. In 1987, Judy Rodman had a No. 7 single with “Girls Ride Horses Too,” which Randall co-wrote with Mark Sanders. Randall, Sanders and Carol Ann Etheridge wrote Moe Bandy’s 1989 single, “Many Mansions.” It is probably the only song in the entirety of country music to open with a line from Emily Dickinson (“Hope is the thing with feathers”).

Randall has shown an affinity in her songwriting for both literature and social justice. “Small Towns (Are Smaller for Girls),” which Holly Dunn recorded as an album track, has a distinct feminist tilt. Randall’s co-writers on this one were Mark Sanders and Verlon Thompson. “The Ballad of Sally Anne,” recorded by Mark O’Connor, alludes to the lynching of a black man. O’Connor and Harry
Stinson shared writing credits here with Randall.

On the literary side, Randall made her bow to novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez with a song called “A Hundred Years of Solitude.” She co-wrote it with Michael Woody and the Woodys recorded it.

Randall’s biggest country song to date, however, has been “XXXs and OOOs,” a co-write with Matraca Berg. It gave Yearwood her second No. 1 hit and provided the theme for a made-for-TV movie.

The Wind Done Gone is published by Houghton Mifflin and is due out next month.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.