"Some girls are into heavy metal/ dance with the devil everywhere they go/ others of 'em cut a rug to the fiddle/ dance to the rhythm of the cotton eyed Joe/ good girls go to heaven bad girls go everywhere." - Good Girls Go To Heaven - Ronnie Dunn/Terry McBride/ Shawn Camp.

Texan turbo tonker Ronnie Dunn is well qualified to chart the destiny of good and bad girls who boot scoot under a neon moon.

Dunn, now 50, studied to be a Baptist minister in his home state before working honky tonks for 15 years with his dad.

While playing badlands bars he was evicted from bible college, went to Nashville and hooked up with Kix Brooks, now 48, who had worked Alaska pipe lines after being born down the street from the late Johnny Horton in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Now, 15 years and 25 million albums down the lust highway, the duo are back in the saddle after being bucked by upstart shit kicking duo Montgomery Gentry.

Montgomery Gentry dethroned B & D's eight- year reign as best male duo at the CMA awards one year but Brooks & Dunn boomeranged.

Brooks & Dunn had become too predictable with Nash Trash filler littering their discs. Now, with their seventh album Steers & Stripes (BMG), the duo is winning back the lost ground.

The 14-track disc topped the U.S. albums charts on debut and first single Ain't Nothin' About You has reigned for four weeks at #1.


It's easy to hear why - soppy love songs have been tossed from an album kick started by Brooks tune Only In America that segued into David Lee Murphy tune The Last Thing I Do.

The duo harness down home Dixie pride and regret in equal doses - "sun going down on an L A freeway/ newlyweds in the back of a limousine/ a welder's son and a banker's daughter/ all they want is everything/ she came out here to be an actress/ he was the singer in a band/ they just might go back to Oklahoma/ and talk about the stars they could have been."

Ironically, it was late Kentucky born honky tonker Gary Stewart - writer of embryonic Alabama tune Hollywood (where the Dixie "actress" meets a much worse fate) who was Dunn's mentor.

"It was shocking to hear Gary Stewart tear a vocal apart and just leave a song in shreds," Dunn revealed.

"The undertow of sex in his songs was just electric."

It's no surprise that Dunn, renowned for his vibrant vocals, co-wrote Good Girls Go To Heaven and energises Charlie Crowe's hedonistic See Jane Dance.

"Miss high fillutin' likes to sip fine champagne/ prim and proper drippin' in diamond rings/ little sister wears high heals and blue jeans/ a long neck drinkin' certified wild thang."

The duo fills in the dots with gusto on The Last Thing I Do with Trisha Yearwood guesting.
"I've been livin' on truck stop coffee, cigarettes and vitamin C/ it's a wonder that the devil ain't caught me."

The duo turn the Dunn-Terry McBride-Shawn Camp shuffle Lucky Me, Lucky You into a riveting romp - stark contrast to the morning after regret of Deny, Deny, Deny.

But the boys' music is not all hormones, honky tonks and hedonism.

The Kim Richey/Angelo/ Tom Littlefield tune Every River and Paul Brady-Ronan Keating composition The Long Goodbye are evocative love songs that enable the duo to make the most of their vocal vibrance.

The return to chart tops was also a career catalyst for expatriate Australasian Keith Urban who was a guest on the duo's Neon Circus & Wild West national tour that featured 12 buses, eight trucks, 40 crew and also music.


Brooks & Dunn's 10th Red Dirt Road topped U.S. Billboard charts shortly after its release about eight months ago.

The duo penned the riveting title track of a disc that has been in the Top 20 for more than nine months.

Their next single You Can't Take The Honky Tonk Out Of The Girl - penned by Bob DiPiero and Bart Allmand - peaked at #4.

Now their new single - the Dunn-Terry McBride penned That's What She Gets For Loving Me has cracked the Top 10.


At a recent sold out concert in Des Moines, Iowa, Dunn stopped the show just before they launched into their new single.

"We have a man who has an announcement to make," Dunn told fans.

Given the seriousness of Dunn's delivery, people braced for some kind of complication. But instead, a guy walked out, called up his girlfriend, got down on his knees, pulled out a ring and proposed.

She said "yes," tears flowed - and Ronnie and Kix sang the song - debuted originally on Dr. Phil's Valentine's Day show as a surprise for Dr. Phil's wife.

"It's always cool to get to be a part of people's lives," says Brooks, the Tasmanian Devil of the Telecaster.

"You know that that moment is going to be really special for them for always and doing this, we get to be a part of so many lives. When you're on the bus after the show, sometimes you start thinking about that stuff - and it really touches you. That, or I'm going soft."

"It's amazing the way this song is hitting people," says Dunn.

"It was a simple song about what love should be about and the things in life you recognise that really matter. And the fact that when you know that, you can really get deep into it.

I'm kinda blown away by the response we're getting, but glad, too. Getting to be part of something like a proposal - people are moving towards happily ever after - Kix is right: that is cool."

top / back to diary