Ronnie Gene Dunn was born on June 1, 1953 in Coleman, Texas, while Leon Eric ‘Kix’ Brooks III was born on May 12, 1955 in Shreveport, Louisiana. In June 1991 they released their first single as a duo, which was the title track of their debut album, BRAND NEW MAN, which came out in August 1991. TIGHT ROPE (1999, Arista Nashville) was their sixth album. Producers on it are: Kix, Don Cook, Ronnie, and Byron Gallimore. According to Wikipedia.org, Brooks and Dunn considered breaking up as this was their least successful album commercially. Only one of its three singles hit the Top Ten.
‘Goin’ Under Gettin’ Over You’ is one of five songs co-written by Ronnie and Terry McBride. It speaks of loneliness: “The days are long and the nights are tough/All alone it’s just too much/I’m not handlin’ well what I’m goin’ through/The whiskey ain’t strong enough/My heart’s down to givin’ up/I’m down to my last cigarette too/Oh, I’m goin’ under gettin’ over you”. ‘Missing You’ is a cover of a song John Waite co-wrote and released in 1984. This country ballad is again about loneliness: “I hear your name in certain circles/And it always makes me smile/I spend my time thinking about you/And it’s almost driving me wild/And there’s a heart that’s breaking/Down this long distance line tonight.../I ain’t missing you/No matter what I might say”. ‘Temptation #9’ is one of three co-writes by Kix Brooks and Bob DiPiero. It’s an upbeat country song about doing the wrong thing: “I first saw you, I had to think/Oh another pretty woman, just what I don’t need/But when I look into your eyes/Hey, I see somethin’ makes me wanna roll the dice/Temptation #9/Make a man wanna cross that line/Face to face with a chance like this/There’s only so much that a man can resist.../You’re the next trip that I’ll be takin’”.
‘Hurt Train’ speaks of heartache: “A hundred tons of cold steel rustin’ in the rain/The singin’ of the rollin’ wheels are callin’ out her name/That whistle keeps blowin’ that high lonesome sound/It tells me where I’m goin’/Is gonna be a long way down”. ‘Can’t Stop My Heart’ is a melodic ballad of sadness: “I let myself get swept away again and again/I know it’s always tearing me apart/I can’t stop, stop my heart/For it feels what it wants to feel/And it does what it wants to do/I tell it no, then before I know it/Yeah, it’s a right back to lovin’ you/I can’t stop my heart before it’s through/It’s gonna break itself in two/I can’t stop my heart”.
Ronnie wrote ‘Too Far This Time’, a quiet song of regret: “I went too far this time/Crossed over that line/I’m past the point of no return/Livin’ proof some fools never learn/Well, I pushed my luck/Now she’s givin’ up/Somethin’ tells me I went too far this time”. The next song ‘You’ll Always Be Loved By Me’ was a #5 hit for the duo. It’s about commitment: “You can count on the sun to rise/And the stars to come out at night/As long as there’s air to breathe/You’ll always be loved by me”.
‘I Love You More’ finds a guy trying to convince his girl to stay with him: “Maybe tonight you think you’re in love/But baby tomorrow when you wake up/Just remember when he looks at you/He don’t see what I see/That little girl smile, that woman in your eyes/That always got to me/Just remember when you turn down the lights/Who you’re really reachin’ for/Yeah, he can tell you he loves you/But I love you more”. ‘Beer Thirty’ is a fast-paced, celebratory number: “Life’s too short, let’s get to livin’ it/Let’s give it all we can give it/Let your hair down, turn the music up/We gonna paint the town, flat tear it up/The party starts here, get in line/Beer thirty, a honky tonk time”.
‘Don’t Look Back Now’ is a country and western ballad that encourages a lady to leave her man when their relationship is over: “Don’t look back now/He’s gonna see you cryin’/You’ll turn around/It happens every time/That look will always break you down/Don’t look back now”. ‘All out of Love’ finds a guy wanting to know the truth: “The story in your eyes tells me the well’s run dry/Am I a fool for holdin’ on, for prayin’ this feelings wrong?/If what I fear is really true/Then girl I want to hear it from you/Are you all out of love? (2X)/Is this the end of the line?/Is this as far as we go?/Or can I somehow change your mind?/Or will your heart be forever closed?”
‘The Trouble With Angels’ isn’t a theological song: “A bottle of wine, a day in the sunshine/Seems like we shared everything/Yeah, I felt her love, but I never saw her wings/And that’s the trouble with angels/That’s the trouble with angels/You can try and make her stay/But she’s bound to fly away/That’s the trouble with angels”. Last up is ‘Texas and Norma Jean’, an easy listening story song: “My cup grew cold and a teardrop rolled down her cheek and I brushed it away/I remember it all just like yesterday/And I see it now, I feel it still/It’s a day I can’t forget and never will/And I hear her voice on the winds of Abilene/She used to call me Texas and I called her Norma Jean”.
On TIGHT ROPE Ronnie Dunn sings lead on seven songs, while Kix Brooks does so on six. Ten of the thirteen songs are on the slow to mid-tempo side of things, while only three are of a faster nature. An overwhelming nine of the songs are about relationships ending, loneliness, heartache, and heartbreak. We need music like this, but one does not want to get stuck in grief and a long-term pattern of regret. Life must go on and we must move forward even when our hearts have been broken. Instruments used on this country record include: lap steel guitar, pedal steel guitar, fiddle, assorted hoedown tools, and B-3 ogan. I’m rating TIGHT ROPE 85% and recommending it to those recently going through a break-up. For more info visit: www.brooksanddunn.wordpress.com.