Brooks & Dunn released their debut album BRAND NEW MAN back in 1991. COWBOY TOWN (2007, Arista Nashville) was their tenth non-holiday studio album, and their last. It debuted at #13 on the Billboard Albums chart and was produced by Tony Brown and the duo.
The title track, ‘Cowboy Town’ is first up. It’s a catchy and upbeat country and western song with these fun lyrics: “Some day when I die and my soul is called home/High on a white horse I’ll ride up on/At that golden chute will stand old St. Pete/He’ll tip his hat and welcome me to Cowboy Town, oh, Cowboy Town/’Son, come on in to Cowboy Town’/I’m gonna live and die in cowboy town”. The album’s lead single, ‘Proud of the House We Built’ is next. Ronnie Dunn, Marv Green, and Terry McBride wrote the song which hit #4 on the country charts and #57 on the Hot 100. It is a celebratory anthem to lasting love: “I’m proud of the house we built/It’s stronger than sticks, stones, and steel/It’s not a big place sitting up high on some hill/A lot of things will come and go/But love never will/Oh, I’m proud/I’m proud of the house we built”.
‘Johnny Cash Junkie (Buck Owens Freak)’ was penned by Ronnie Dunn, Paul Nelson, and Larry Boone. It is a fun, upbeat tip of the hat to the country and western lifestyle: “I throw back a beer, I pledge allegiance to Hank/I’ll take a little less pop, and a lot more twang/Three chords and some down-home soul/Some things never grow old/I still drive a pickup, I still wear boots/I grew up country, I’m proud of my roots/Red, white and blue are the colors I bleed/I’m a Johnny Cash junkie and a Buck Owens freak”. ‘Cowgirls Don’t Cry’ is a touching adult contemporary story song: “Phone rang early one mornin’/Her mama’s voice, she’d been cryin’/Said ‘It’s your daddy, you need to come home/This is it, I think he’s dyin’’/She laid the phone down by his head/Last words that he said were/’Cowgirl don’t cry/Ride baby ride/Lessons of life show us all in time/Too soon God’ll let you know why/If you fall get right back on/Good Lord calls everybody home/Cowgirl don’t cry’”.
‘Put a Girl in It’ is an awesome country/pop number that was a #3 hit for the duo. It praises females: “You can build you a house up high on a hill/With a pool and a pond and a view to kill/You can make all the money in sight/But you ain’t living the good life/’Til you put a girl in it, you ain’t got nothin’/What’s it all worth without a little lovin’?/Put a girl in it/Some huggin’ and some kissin’/If your world’s got somethin’ missin/Just put a girl in it”. ‘The Ballad of Jerry Jeff Walker’ features him. He’s best known for writing ‘Mr. Bojangles’, which appeared on his 1968 album of the same name. This Brooks & Dunn tribute song includes these words: “Jerry Jeff Walker stumbled up the stairs on his way to the stage/With a Martin guitar and a six pack/Yeah and he was the poet of the Lone Star state/And I was young enough to think I was good enough to be his opening act/And in a cloud of smoke he took another toke/And counted 1, 2, 3/And I knew right there just breathin` his air/What I wanted to be”.
‘Tequila’ is a fast paced drinking song with a great electric guitar solo: “One shot, two shot, three tequila floor/Cowboy bouncers ‘bout to bowl me out the door/Jose got me stumblin’, mumblin’ like a fool/That worm’s got a kick like a Tennessee mule/Wake up in the mornin’, hurtin’ head, skinned knees/Ain’t no doubt about what’s put a whoopin’ on me/Tequila goes down easy...”. Bob DiPiero and Kix Brooks wrote the fun country styled party song ‘Drop in the Bucket’. Here are some of the words: “A shot of brown liquor and a smoky bar/Can make you a little better than you are/A small dance floor and a long slow dance/Can turn into a real romance/Take a chance/It’s just an innocent kiss ‘til it feels like this/When it feels like this then you just can’t miss/She ain’t nothin’ but a dream ‘til you find that girl/When you find that girl, she can change your world”.
Darrell Brown and Radney Foster co-wrote the country/rock song ‘Drunk on Love’. It finds a guy head over heels: “That kiss that you just handed me girl/It’s a staggering revelation/Baby, I never drank that much/To get this high, I must be drunk on love”. ‘Chance of a Lifetime’ is a high energy honky tonker about the end of a relationship: “The light was on and the bed was made/And there’s a dear john written on a pillow case/She said ‘I`ve gone to the Bahamas/I’ve had it with the drama/Time to get out of town, I’m just a slowin’ you down’/She said ‘I found somebody that likes the things that you used to/Yeah and he’s got a lot of money, we’re goin’ where it’s sunny/And baby, he’s a looker too’”.
‘American Dreamer’ includes these inspiring thoughts: “Back in the 60’s, well Haggard’s in prison/He’s thinking ‘bout writing a tune/And a guy named Armstrong was crazy enough to think he could walk on the moon/And a preacher named King, well he had him a dream/He believed we could all live as one/And a soldier somewhere is praying for peace/While he’s cleaning his gun”. The album ends on a spiritual note with the Clint Daniels/Michael P. Heeney penned ‘God Must Be Busy’. The lyrics ponder why God allows various bad things to happen.
Just as DeGarmo and Key did with 1994’s TO EXTREMES, Brooks & Dunn went out with a bang with COWBOY TOWN in 2007. Listening to this gem, it seems the duo has more energy than ever and could have continued putting out albums as a duo for another decade or more! The B-3 organ and gospel influenced backing vocals by the likes of Vicki Hampton, Kim Fleming, and Harry Stinson really add a lot of flavour to these songs. This album is a blast to listen to! It’s an all-time great that I’m rating 100%. For more info visit: www.brooksanddunn.wordpress.com. The duo’s last concert was at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on September 2, 2010 with proceeds going to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Brooks & Dunn would go on to perform a series of shows with Reba McEntire in Las Vegas, Nevada.