Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Garth Brooks, “American Honky-Tonk Bar Association”

“American Honky-Tonk Bar Association”

Garth Brooks

Written by Bryan Kennedy and Jim Rushing

Billboard

#1 (1 week)

December 4, 1993

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

November 26, 1993

Garth tops the charts with a clunky single.

The Road to No. 1

This is Garth’s fifth consecutive No. 1 single, and his second from his fifth album, In Pieces.

The No. 1

This song is built around a clunky idea that doesn’t really work.   The idea of an “American Honky-Tonk Bar Association” is supposed to be one of solidarity with the working class, but it’s a mouthful that gets in the way of any kind of melody.  It’s like the record skips a scratch every time that he has to say the ridiculous title, and it’s all over the verses as well as central to the chorus.

He would’ve been better off covering “Working Man Blues” or just ceding this territory to Aaron Tippin, who does this kind of material so much better than Brooks.  He sounds like he’s posturing here, and it’s not very convincing.

The Road From No. 1

After the top five “Standing Outside the Fire” and top ten “One Night a Day,”  In Pieces would produce a final No. 1 single with a New Grass Revival cover that might be the best thing Garth has ever done.  We’ll cover it in the spring of 1995.

“American Honky-Tonk Bar Association” gets a C.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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2 Comments

  1. Yeah, to me, this was Garth’s attempt at the line dance ready novelty song that was all the rage then, and it just doesn’t work for me, and it definitely doesn’t hold up as well as his earlier upbeat cuts like “Two Of A Kind, Workin’ On A Full House.” I’ll admit to actually liking this one a bit when I was younger, mostly for the honky tonk groove, but now it just comes off as boring and dated. I also agree completely that Aaron Tippin did this blue collar theme much more convincingly (likely because Aaron did all sorts of blue collar jobs before becoming a recording artist). While not necessarily one of my favorite Tippin tunes, his very similar “Working Man’s PhD” from around this same time is a lot more believable and is better written, imo.

    As I mentioned in the previous Garth entry, the In Pieces album era is probably my least favorite of his from the 90’s, but I agree completely that “Callin’ Baton Rouge” is pure gold.

    Btw, anyone else find it kind of odd that he chose to perform his song without his hat (and in a tux!) at the 1993 CMA’s? Especially, with it being a honky tonk themed song.

  2. This is definitely one of Garth’s hits that didn’t stand the test of time. I agree, it’s too clunky and the title makes the song seem like a novelty song, which it borders on being. I agree with childhood Jamie that it’s got a fun groove, but not my favorite Garth song by any means.

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