Country Throwback: Garth Brooks ‘No Fences’ Album Stands #1 on Charts 30 Years Ago Today

by Madison Miller
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Country artist Garth Brooks has been performing professionally for nearly 35 years now. But possibly no other musical moment in his career could top the time in his life when he released the “No Fences” album.

About five years into his career he released the now-timeless classic album. It reached No.1 on the Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and also reached No.3 on the Billboard 200.

It was certified for sales of over 18 million units. As many country fans likely remember, “No Fences” helped skyrocket Garth Brooks into superstardom. It was even the 4th best-selling album of all genres in the ’90s.

After release, Brooks won CMA album of the year in 1991, AMA Favorite Album/Country in 1992, Billboard No.1 Country album 1991, and ACM Album of the Year 1991.

“No Fences” had four consecutive No.1 hits. The two most popular, award-winning tracks were ‘The Thunder Rolls” and arguably one of the greatest country songs of all time, “Friends in Low Places.”

Garth Brooks and ‘The Thunder Rolls’

The song, ‘Thunder Rolls’ was one of the most popular of Brook’s album. It received an award for CMA Music Video of the Year, Billboard Music Video Awards Best Country Male Video, AMA Favorite Single/Country.

So, what is this hit single about?

“I’d written a song with Mark Sanders, who’s a great songwriter, and he’s a good friend. We’d written a song called ‘Like a Hurricane’ that Kathy Mattea had recorded. It was the B-side of ’18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses.’ There’s a line about thunder rolling in the song. Garth had been listening to that song – he’d been listening to stuff that (producer) Allen Reynolds had given him. He came in and said, ‘What if we write a song about somebody who’s cheating on his wife, and every time he does it, the thunder rolls.’ And I kind of laughed,'” said Alger according to Wide Open Country.

Brooks is playing the abusive husband himself in the video. A 1991 Entertainment Weekly article said that the song about wife-beating, child abuse, and murder was “the most controversial clip in country music history.”

Country Music Television and the Nashville Network banned the video. Despite the hardship, the video ended up being well regarded.

‘Friends in Low Places’

This track earned the artist ACM Single Record of the Year and CMA Single of the Year in 1991.

According to KXRB, the song got its inspiration while writer Earl Bud Lee and his friends were out to eat. He forgot his wallet and said he wasn’t worried and said “I have friends in low places. I know the cook.”

From there that phrase was turned into a No.1 hit song for Garth Brooks.

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