Brooks & Dunn: 10 Prime Hits

Duo Will Part Company This Week Following Last Show of Last Rodeo Tour

With an astonishing two decades of hits, Brooks & Dunn’s music clearly speaks for itself. Thus, instead of writing a long goodbye prior to the duo’s final concert on Thursday night (Sept. 2) at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, the editorial team compiled 10 of their favorite Brooks & Dunn songs.

“Ain’t Nothing ’Bout You” — There ain’t nothing ’bout this song that don’t do something for me. Because really, who doesn’t want a lover who gets turned on by your every move? Back in 2001, the duo created a song that said so simply what everyone wants to hear. After all, this song was not only about looks. It was also about the way she laughs, loves with all she has, the way she kisses, cries and moves when she walks by. And by her attitude, rose tattoo, smile, lips and — as the song goes — the list goes on and on and on. In reality, when a love affair progresses, maybe all those little things aren’t quite as charming. But there’s nothing like a country song that makes you think that feeling might just last. — Alison Bonaguro

“Believe” — This country ballad is a song for the soul. I can’t hear it without tears welling in my eyes. Ronnie Dunn, who co-wrote the song with Craig Wiseman, delivers a passionate and tender story of Old Man Wrigley, a gentleman who spends many summers on his porch swing sharing stories about the war and his late wife. Dunn relives the moment he hears of the old man’s passing and throughout the song he comes to terms with Wrigley’s death. One of the richest life lessons he learned from his wise elder is that there’s more to life than just what we can see. My favorite line is, “You can’t tell me it all ends in a slow ride in a hearse.” I raise my hand to you, Ronnie. Well done. — Whitney Self

“Boot Scootin’ Boogie” — I can’t resist. How many line-dance instructors does it take to change a light bulb? … Five, six, seven, eight! Sorry. It may not be Brooks & Dunn’s most soul-stirring work, but “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” lends itself perfectly to memory making. Once you get everyone to stop being so cool, it provides for smiling, dancing, singing — everything you need to enjoy yourself with some company. Kix and Ronnie were so excited early in their career, and you can really tell on this one. It’s just fun, and sometimes that’s all that matters. — Chris Parton

“Brand New Man” — There’s a nano-second of a drum intro and then this voice immediately jumps through the speakers. That’s what country fans experienced in 1991 when Brooks & Dunn released their debut single. Ronnie Dunn’s sounded like no one else. Written by Brooks, Dunn and Don Cook, the song is about the transformative power of love — and the lyrics and melody have more hooks than a Bass Pro Shop. As strong as the song is, though, it was the voice that got our attention and first suggested that the duo could be a major force in the future. It’s a bold statement, I know, but I really don’t think it’s overstating things to say that Dunn is one of the greatest singers in the history of country music. — Calvin Gilbert

“Husbands and Wives” — One reason I have always liked Brooks & Dunn’s recording of “Husbands and Wives” is that it so much went against the grain of their usual song selection. They are regarded largely for their high-energy “boot-scootin'” songs, while “Husbands and Wives” songwriter Roger Miller is often remembered primarily as a novelty songwriter. Both B&D and Miller did much, much more, as this song demonstrated. “Husbands and Wives” was one of Miller’s more sensitive compositions, and it equally was one of B&D’s more sensitive performances. Miller took the song to No. 5 in 1966, and B&D shot it to the top spot in 1998. The lyrics are terse but effective. An excerpt: “Two broken hearts/Lonely looking houses/Where nobody lives/Two people having so much pride inside/Neither side forgives. … It’s my belief pride is the chief cause in the decline/Of the number of husbands and wives.” — Chet Flippo

“If You See Him/If You See Her” — “If you see hiiiiiiiim ….” From the moment Reba McEntire lends her compelling vocals to this haunting duet, the listener’s hooked. A story of heartache and hope, two ex-lovers can’t seem to outrun the thoughts and feelings of the other, while also questioning themselves as to why their love didn’t last. When I hear these lonesome lyrics sung with such conviction, I want to find them and tell them the other’s secrets. Reba, he keeps the light on for you at home. Ronnie, the fire still burns for you in her heart. Can you two please work this out? — Whitney Self

“My Maria” — In 1996, I spent most Saturday mornings pretending my old rocking horse was a motorcycle (I was 11, so give me a break) while my mother hurried around the house and listened to CMT. I distinctly remember I always switched back into cowboy mode when “My Maria” came on. The song still catches my attention today, and I sit patiently waiting for that five-word chorus and the subtle warble in Ronnie Dunn’s voice. It’s got to be one of the more memorable lines I’ve ever heard, and as a testament to songwriters B.W. Stevenson and Daniel Moore, one I’ve never minded having stuck in my head. — Chris Parton

“Play Something Country” — On the rare occasions in my life when I would get dragged to a show that was not country, I would always have this feeling like something important was missing. But I never knew how to put that into words until Brooks & Dunn came along with this 2005 song. Who hasn’t been stuck at a folky open-mic night or some heavy metal show when you thought, “I shaved my legs for this?” The legend is that this song was inspired by Gretchen Wilson’s hand-on-her-hip attitude. I’m not crazy about Ronnie Dunn’s howling, but the rest of the song is all good. Especially that part about being a whiskey drinkin’, cowboy chasin’ hell of a time. And when Dunn sings, “I like Kenny, Keith, Alan and Patsy Cline,” I don’t know which Keith he’s referring to (Whitley or Urban), but I love both of them, so that line works for me. — Alison Bonaguro

“Red Dirt Road” — Where I grew up, there wasn’t even a Rural Route 3 — we were about two routes shy of that. All the same, these detailed lyrics (co-written by the duo) have deeply affected me. Walking to church. Wrecking a car. Staying up late and talking about what the future might hold. Although I’m sure it resonates no matter where you were raised, I always envision my own Midwestern hometown. Moving to Nashville 16 years ago is still the smartest decision I’ve ever made, hands down, but the momentum of this song continues to remind me of my life at the other end of that red dirt road. — Craig Shelburne

“You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” — Kix Brooks takes the lead on this melancholy ballad from 1995. He shows his vulnerability as he lists the multiple ways he’s tried to make a failing relationship work. He seems to be the only one in the partnership putting in any effort, while his lady just goes through the motions — consequently leaving him with nothing to believe in. But at the same time, he maintains control by demanding a kiss because she’s the one who will miss him when all is said and done. Brooks & Dunn fans are sure to relate to this hit as we’ll definitely be the ones to miss this duo and their undeniable appeal. — Stephanie Pendergrass