The Meaning Behind Brooks & Dunn’s Hit Tear-Jerker “Believe”

In 2005, country duo Brooks & Dunn released “Believe,” one of their most powerful and emotionally-charged singles. The meaning behind the moving, narrative-driven song appealed to listeners drawn to faith-based storytelling.

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[RELATED: Top 10 Brooks & Dunn Songs]

“Believe,” written by lead vocalist Ronnie Dunn with hit songwriter Craig Wiseman, tells the story of a character called “Old Man Wrigley.” The song begins with a description of Wrigley, seen through the eyes of a young neighbor.

Old man Wrigley lived in that white house
Down the street where I grew up
My mama used to send me over with things
We struck a friendship up
I spent a few long summers
Out on his old porch swing

Dunn goes on to describe a conversation they shared during one of those summer nights. The seemingly unremarkable exchange would take on new meaning for the narrator years later.

Said he was in the war, when in the navy
Lost his wife, lost his baby
Broke down and asked him one time
“How you keep from goin’ crazy?”
He said, “I’ll see my wife and son in just a little while”
Mm, I asked him what he meant, he looked at me and smiled

That moment becomes a marker of reflective nostalgia and youthful innocence for Dunn, who sings of the fleeting conversation’s impact on him.

Later on that night
I laid there thinkin’ back
Thought about a couple long-lost summers
I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh
If there was ever anybody
Deserved a ticket to the other side
It’d be that sweet old man
Who looked me in the eye

The connecting thread of these two distant memories is the power put in the narrator’s sense of faith, including the confident belief that better things will come after we leave our physical form.

Said, “I raise my hands
Bow my head
I’m findin’ more and more truth
In the words written in red
They tell me that there’s more to life
Than just what I can see, I believe”

The powerful message behind “Believe” helped make the song a commercial success, climbing to No. 8 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart. Its universal message also appealed to music fans outside of country music, leading the track to chart on both the pop and all-genre Hot 100 charts that same year.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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