Where were you on this August day 31 years ago when Garth Brooks released one of his most popular songs, ever?
You’re probably still singing Friends in Low Places. Once you hear it, the song stays stuck in that part of your brain for decades. It’s where all the other great songs and great times thrive in your memory. Cause we all “want to go to the place where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases (our) blues away.” That’s the spot. And we’re all OK because of this song.
For Garth Brooks, the song he released on Aug. 6, 1990 defined him. It was the lead single off his second album, the one he called No Fences. A couple of songwriters flipped the song to Brooks back when he was a guy with a dream. Nashville is chock full of such guys. Brooks honed his singing skills playing clubs around Stillwater, Okla. after he graduated from Oklahoma State. He and his then-wife moved to Nashville in 1987. He met the songwriters of Friends in Low Places when he was selling shoes to pay the bills. Guys with dreams always need a side hustle. Brooks recorded the demo. And it was the last time he ever needed to do that.
It’s difficult to come up with appropriate adjectives for Friends in Low Places. Let’s just say it was a huge hit and leave it at that. The song spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country chart. It also won single of the year as selected by the CMAs and ACMs.
The song and album were nice second acts to Brooks’ first album — that one was self-titled Garth Brooks. The first album produced The Dance, another song that still defines Brooks. But coming into No Fences, Brooks still wasn’t headlining his own tours. Instead, he was the opening act for Kenny Rogers. That all was about to change.
Garth Brooks Loves to Talk About Third Verse of this Song. Hint, It’s Just the Second
In his live performances, Garth Brooks always likes to joke about a third verse to Friends in Low Places. His performance of the song always is a show-stopper. The audience must sing it with him, as if they need to be asked. But the third verse is basically the same as the second. It’s just more singing time.
Mark Chesnutt also did a cover of Friends in Low Places. And other artists will perform it. In fact, Justin Timberlake invited Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood to attend his Nashville concert in 2014. But fans who packed Bridgestone Arena didn’t know who all was there. Timberlake started singing his favorite Garth Brooks song. And two minutes into Friends in Low Places a guy wearing a black cap, yellow plaid shirt and baggy jeans walked out on stage from behind the band. Fans went crazy.
Brooks told the crowd “we gotta show the young guy how to do it.” Yes, always.
For your Friday listening pleasure, here’s Garth Brooks performing the song in Nashville. Enjoy!