5 Songs You Didn’t Know Kix Brooks Wrote for Brooks & Dunn

Joining forces in the 1990s, Brooks & Dunn were leaders of country music. Prior to their pairing, Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks were forging ahead as solo acts. While they each saw an unassuming amount of success in their solo careers, things took off once they got together.

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Brooks & Dunn became two of the leading voices of modern country music with their blend of honky-tonk and country rock. Dunn has often been considered the group’s frontman, usually taking the lead vocals. But their songwriting style has always been a team effort, with each member contributing equally. Brooks began singing lead vocals more frequently as their career progressed, with several of his songs becoming significant hits. In addition to being a talented songwriter, Brooks plays a wide variety of instruments. Both as a solo artist and a member of Brooks & Dunn, he has played harmonica, mandolin, guitar, and piano. 

The duo has always looked at songwriting as a joint venture. Even with highly personal songs such as “Red Dirt Road” (which tells the story of Dunn’s childhood), each member contributes vital components to the music. Their partnership might account for their success as a duo, which their solo careers couldn’t match. Although Brooks has often taken a backseat when it comes to performing, his talents have been a major part of what made the group so vital to the modern country scene. Here are five songs you might not have known were written with Brooks’ help.

1. “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” (1995) 

Written by Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn, and Don Cook

Brooks didn’t just have a hand in writing the 1995 hit “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.” He also sang lead vocals on the track—one of the earliest songs where he did so. The song was a huge hit, becoming one of the biggest country tracks of the year. It also marked a new direction for the duo as they moved away from their honky-tonk-infused ballad era. 

I can’t find much to believe in
You let me down so many times
Heaven knows how much I love you
But I’m tired of holding on
You better kiss me
‘Cause you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone

2. “Whiskey Under The Bridge” (1995)

Written by Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn, and Don Cook

“Whiskey Under The Bridge” is an underappreciated hit from Brooks & Dunn, released on their 1995 album, Waitin’ on Sundown. The song, written by both members of the duo along with legendary songwriter Don Cook, describes a couple looking back on their relationship. They reflect on their struggles and decide they want to move past the hurt they’ve done to one another. “Whiskey Under The Bridge” climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, particularly thanks to Dunn’s yearning vocal performance.

Yeah, all those nights of drinking
Finally got me thinking
Heartache is just a waste of time
I’ve been burned, I’ve been cheated
But this old heart’s still beating
Ain’t no big deal
It’s just whiskey under the bridge

3. “That Ain’t No Way to Go” (1994)

Written by Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn, and Don Cook

You might have had a few bad breakups, but it doesn’t get much worse than the one described in “That Ain’t No Way to Go” (1994). The song is written from the point of view of a man whose partner has left him without warning or explanation. Brooks wrote the song in partnership with Dunn and Don Cook, resulting in a mournful country ballad that climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts. 

That ain’t no way to go, girl, it just ain’t right
Don’t you think that I deserve to hear you say goodbye?
That ain’t no way to go, was it all a lie?
After all this time, that ain’t no way to go

4. “Red Dirt Road” (2002) 

Written by Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn

In 2002, a furious few days of songwriting on a tour bus resulted in the hit song “Red Dirt Road.” Although the track describes Ronnie Dunn’s childhood memories, most of the music and lyrics were written by Brooks. 

“I remember Kix walking off of his bus as we were walking across the parking lot,” Ronnie Dunn tells American Songwriter. “He just looked like he’d been through the wringer. He wrote the verses to it. He was just beat, man, like he’d been up for two days. He really plowed into it.”

That’s where I first saw Mary
On that roadside pickin’ blackberries
That summer, I turned the corner in my soul
Down that red dirt road

5. “Brand New Man” (1991)

Written by Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn, and Don Cook

Brooks & Dunn released “Brand New Man” as the title track of their debut album in 1991. The duo wrote the song with long-term writing partner Don Cook, resulting in their first No. 1 hit. “Brand New Man” tells the story of a man whose wild days are over now that he has a guiding star in the woman he loves. In 2019, the duo reunited to rerelease the song with modern country star Luke Combs. 

I used to love ’em and leave ’em
Oh, I’d brag about my freedom
How no one could tie me down
Then I met you
Now my heart beats true

 Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

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