Alongside Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn made a name for himself in the early ’90s with two-stepping, honky-tonk hits. The pair have earned 20 No. 1 hits together and an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. After going their separate ways in 2009 (although they’ve reunited since), Dunn shifted his focus to his solo works. His most recent album is a 2022 release titled 100 Proof Neon. The LP continued his string of excellence in songwriting and his trademark Texas twang.
Videos by American Songwriter
Videos by American Songwriter
[RELATED: “Broken Neon Hearts”: Ronnie Dunn On Nostalgic New Solo Album, Songwriting and the Cyclical Nature of Country Music]
In addition to working with Brooks and his own solo efforts, Dunn has passed songs along to his fellow country stars throughout his career. Find four songs you didn’t know Dunn wrote for other artists, below.
1. “Don’t Leave, I Think I Love You” (Toby Keith)
Written by Ronnie Dunn and Toby Keith
Dunn jumped in the writer’s room with Toby Keith for “Don’t Leave, I Think I Love You.” The pleading track found a home on Keith’s 2003 album, Shock’n Y’all. Elsewhere on the same album are singles “I Love This Bar,” “American Solider” and “Whiskey Girl.” The record has been certified 4x Platinum in the U.S.
Though “Don’t Leave, I Think I Love You” is a relatively deep cut from the record, it’s an interesting stop-off in Dunn’s writing catalog.
2. “I Keep On Lovin’ You” (Reba McEntire)
Written by Ronnie Dunn and Terry McBride
Dunn and Terry McBride penned “I Keep Lovin’ You” together and passed it over to Reba McEntire for her 2010 album, Keep On Loving You.
McEntire once told The Boot that she identified with the song because of her marriage to her manager, Narvel Blackstock, “We have been through rough times and tough times and arguments, but we made up over and over again.”
3. “Darned If I Don’t (Danged If I Do)” (Shenandoah)
Written by Ronnie Dunn, George Strait, and Dean Dillon
“Darned If I Don’t (Danged If I Do)” became a hit for Muscle Shoals, Alabama natives Shenandoah in 1995. The song acted as the second single from their record In the Vicinity of the Heart. The track went on to earn the group a Grammy nod for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group in 1995. “Darned If I Don’t (Danged If I Do)” lives in the same spirit as Brooks & Dunn’s lively, barn-burner hits.
4. “No U In Oklahoma” (Reba McEntire)
Written by Ronnie Dunn, Donna McSpadden, and Reba McEntire
McEntire came up with the titular play on words in “No U In Oklahoma,” but it wasn’t until she brought the idea to Dunn that it started to take form.
“A friend of mine in Chelsea, Okla., Donna McSpadden, gave me the idea,” McEntire once told The Boot. “I sent it to Ronnie [Dunn], and while we were on vacation in Cancun—I had a guitar down there at my house—he just kinda started riffing and playing. We recorded it in a kind of rough demo, and I sent it to Buddy Cannon, and he loved it.”
He continued, “I wrote another version and played it for Buddy, but he didn’t like mine. I didn’t tell him that it was me that wrote it by myself. But I fixed some of the lines that made it easier for me to sing on the Ronnie version.”
Photo by Jim Arndt