Originally Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn were solo artists. The now famous duo Brooks & Dunn was founded in 1990. They released their debut album BRAND NEW MAN in 1991. They’ve released 50 singles, with 20 hitting #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, and 19 more reaching the Top 10. In addition, they won Country Music Association’s ‘Vocal Duo of the Year’ every year between 1992 and 2006, except for 2000. RED DIRT ROAD (2003, Arista Nashville) was their 8th of 10 studio albums.
Bob DiPiero and Bart Allmand wrote the opening song, which I love, ‘You Can’t Take the Honky Tonk out of the Girl’. It’s a fun, contagious country and western number: “Yeah, she lives in L.A./She flies to New York City/That woman’s been around the world/You can take the girl out of the honky tonk/But you can’t take the honky tonk, take the honky tonk/Out of the girl”. ‘Caroline’ is the confession of a cheater: “My Sweet Caroline, from your loving arms I’ve strayed/In your heart may you find/Dear, forgiveness I pray/A fool to temptation/Well, I surely played/I come to you now for salvation/Have mercy in love’s name”. ‘When We Were Kings’ is a great country story song: “Yeah, we ruled from the blacktop/To the levee where the party never stopped/Yeah, there was power in the night/The spirit was alive when we would sing/Shan na (7X)/When we were kings (2X)/Yeah, that was the fall of ‘69/I guess Uncle Sam was hedging his bet/Tommy’s number came up/He said ‘Hey, I’ll be fine/I’ll teach ‘em a lesson they’ll never forget!’/Angel and I went to wave goodbye/I guess we’d always thought we’d see him again/You know I took her out a couple of times/We always just wound up talking about him”.
Ronnie Dunn and Terry McBride wrote ‘That’s What She Gets for Loving Me’. It is a pretty country ballad on the subject of loyalty: “At times I lay awake at night/Stare at her laying by my side/Knowin’ there in her heart as she sleeps/She can forever count on me/That’s what she gets (2X)/That’s what she gets for loving me/Whatever turns her on/I’m here to do it/Till the day they write my name in stone/I’ll live to prove it”. Next up is the Brooks & Dunn penned, catchy title track, ‘Red Dirt Road’. It hit #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart and is one of my favourite country songs of all time! It’s a story song with this as the chorus: “It’s where I drank my first beer/It’s where I found Jesus/Where I wrecked my first car, I tore it all to pieces/I learned the path to heaven is full of sinners and believers/Learned that happiness on earth ain’t just for high achievers/I’ve learned, I’ve come to know/There’s life at both ends of that red dirt road”. ‘Feels Good Don’t It’ is a happy song of gratitude: “How ‘bout those lonely nights/You used to pray/Something like this/Would come your way/Thank your lucky stars/Lucky’s what we are/Feels good, don’t it?/Some people go through life/Never knowin’/What love is or where it’s goin’/Me and you, girl we just walked up on it/Feels good, don’t it?”
‘I Used to Know this Song by Heart’ is a soulful song of heartbreak with great electric guitar work: “I used to sing this song to you for days and days/In so many different manners, in so many different ways/I used to think this dream we shared would never come apart/I used to know this song by heart”. Ronnie Dunn and Craig Wiseman wrote ‘Believer’, a song of longing: “What do I do to make you love me/Baby, like I love you?/Why do you keep the key to your heart/Behind a door I can’t get through?.../Someday you’ll feel in my kiss/What I do in yours/So I wait to see in your eyes/Oh, that light I’m looking for”. ‘Memory Town’ is a country and western ballad that finds the lead character fondly reminiscing: “I can pull the shades and feel your lips/They’re touching mine again/I can watch the shadow of the moon slow dance across your skin/Hold you in a place where lovers never say goodbye/And every moment comes alive/And every time I close my eyes and go back down to memory town”.
‘She Was Born to Run’ is a melodic country tune about a life-long romantic commitment: “It’s been years now and I’ve never doubted/Somewhere, somehow we’d make it through/She’s right here, no two ways about it/Her heart’s still mine and her love’s still true/She was born to run/Was the Master’s plan/Born to run/Put her heart in my hand/Born to run, born to run to me”. ‘Till my Dyin’ Day’ is a song of positivity: “I’m gonna run with the wind behind me/Have fun when the sun is shining/And stop when the world reminds me/I got to take the time to pray/And fight for the right to be free/Smile at what my children might be/And live with you beside me/Oh, till my dyin’ day”. ‘My Baby’s Everything I Love’ is a fun, honky tonk tribute to one’s lover: “My baby’s like a trip to town/Radio up, top pulled down/Can’t get my fill, I can’t get enough of/My baby’s everything I love/She’s all I need in one tight package/Got a spell on me, works like magic/I’m after her like a hound on a rabbit/She’s got it all and I got to have it”.
Kix Brooks and Bob DiPiero co-wrote the upbeat country/rock track ‘Good to Be Me’. Here are some of the words: “I’m a country boy and I’m a rockin’ roller/Like a little crown in my Coca-Cola/Say a little prayer for all the soldiers fightin’ for the USA/I never was captain of the football team/You ain’t never been a prom queen/We’re just us and that’s okay/If I got you, well, it’s a good day/Good day to be me”. ‘Good Cowboy’ begins with these lyrics that will make some blush: “Say things to me like a cowgirl would/And I’ll do tricks for you like a cowboy should/Oh, you look romantic layin’ in the hay/And I need you tonight in a new kinda way/When you look at me with those eyes/Oh, it makes me start to fantasize/Do it to me like I know you could/So I can do it to you baby/Like a cowboy should”. Last up is the unlisted Ronnie Dunn penned track ‘Holy War’. It is a clap along Gospel number that offers a commentary on society: “I turn on the TV/Lord, I can’t believe my eyes/Oh, terror walks the streets/While a million mothers cry/Christians pray to Jesus/’Lord, help us if You can/Send Gabriel and His legions/To defend His promised land’/They say a holy war is comin’/Gonna be the end of mortal man/There’s a TV preacher sayin’/Armageddon is at hand”.
RED DIRT ROAD is my favourite male artist mainstream country music album so far. Both Brooks and Dunn are capable of carrying the lead vocally. The musicianship on this project is simply terrific. Players such as Kenny Greenberg, Glenn Worf, Brent Mason, Eric Darken, Jerry Douglas, and Aubrey Haynie all make great contributions, as do the 13 background vocalists including Bekka Bramlett, Vicki Hampton, and Dan Tyminski. The lyrics deal with the good and the bad when it comes to male-female relationships. An element of Christian faith peaks through as it does in much of country music. The front cover of the CD is a great shot of the legendary country duo. I’m rating RED DIRT ROAD a perfect 100%. For more info visit: www.brooksanddunn.wordpress.com.