Brooks & Dunn defined a decade. The dynamic duo – made up of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn – helped shape country music in the 1990s, serving up twanging licks and infectious hooks with each new hit.
Videos by American Songwriter
Videos by American Songwriter
As the era shifted into a new millennium, there wasn’t a whisper of aughts country that didn’t echo with their chromed-up cowboy style. To this day, the pair are the standard, their songs continually covered and their showmanship constantly emulated.
Here are 10 Brooks & Dunn tunes that showcase their staying power.
10. “Hard Workin’ Man”
I’m a hard, hard workin man / I got it all on the line / For a peace of the promised land / I’m burnin’ my candle at both ends / Bout the only way to keep the fire goin’ / Is to outrun the wind, plays the duo’s “Hard Workin’ Man” against a backdrop of crying strings and ear-grabbing keys.
The lead single from their 1993 album of the same name is a fiery honky tonk-tinged salute to hard workers everywhere.
9. “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You”
The way you look, the way you laugh / The way you love with all you have / There ain’t nothing ’bout you / That don’t do something for me, goes the swoon-worthy chart-topper, “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You.”
The sultry 2001 hit flips the traditional country love song on its head, saying “I love everything about you” in a refreshed way.
8. “Hillbilly Deluxe”
While country music is overflowing with them, “Hillbilly Deluxe” is a good ole boy anthem like no other.
Hillbilly deluxe, slick pick-up trucks / Big timin’ in a small town / Stirrin’ it up right about sundown / Black denim and chrome / To the bone with a little homegrown / Country girl cuddled up / Hillbilly deluxe, plays the 2006 hot country hit against a souped-up arrangement of luscious steel guitar and commanding drums.
7. “Red Dirt Road”
The pair can put a refreshing spin on nearly any country topic, like with their 2003 staple, “Red Dirt Road.” The duo sings of being shaped by small-town life throughout the track.
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, the chorus plays. 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.
6. “Play Something Country”
The duo also know a thing or two about a party anthem. Their good-timin’ tune, “Play Something Country,” is all fire and feist.
Crank up the band, play the steel guitar / Hank it up a little, let’s rock this bar / Threw back a shot; yelled: “I’m a George Strait junkie / Ha-ooh-hoo, play something country / Ha-ooh-hoo, aw, play something country,” plays the thrilling chorus against a rollicking country-rock arrangement. The tune was supposedly inspired by their tour mate at the time, fellow country torchbearer Gretchen Wilson.
5. “Brand New Man”
I saw the light I’ve been baptized / By the fire in your touch and the flame in your eyes / I’m born to love again / I’m a brand new man
The opening lines of “Brand New Man” are not just singable. They’re screamable. With its simple composition, but addictive lyrics, the duo’s 1991 debut single has been one of their most enduring songs.
4. “How Long Gone”
Tell me how long gone are you gonna be? the pair ask in the deeply personal 1998 classic, “How Long Gone.” Again, another Brooks & Dunn spin on a common theme, the mid-tempo ballad is one of heartache, longing, and the unanswered questions that accompany a love lost.
3. “My Maria”
My Maria / Don’t you know I’ve come a long, long way / I been longin’ to see her when she’s around / She takes my blues away, opens the hit, “My Maria,” a twanging lullaby full of passion and steel.
The duo’s 1996 cover of the B. W. Stevenson tune took off like a shot, quickly becoming a Hot Country No. 1 and winning them the 1997 Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
2. “Neon Moon”
Now if you lose your one and only / There’s always room here for the lonely / To watch your broken dreams dance / In and out of the beams of a neon moon, plays the brooding barroom ballad, “Neon Moon.”
From their impressive debut album, Brand New Man, “Neon Moon” is an enduring country classic that we dare you not to sing along to.
1. “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”
Yeah, heel, toe, do-si-do come on baby let’s go boot scootin’ / Oh Cadillac blackjack, baby meet me outback we’re gonna boogie / Oh get down, turn around, go to town, boot scootin’ boogie, plays another irresistible hit, “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.”
The rocking country standard and Brooks & Dunn are inseparable. There couldn’t possibly be one without the other.
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