Written by Pat Alger, Larry Bastian, and Garth Brooks
#1 (2 weeks)
January 12 – January 19, 1991
Radio & Records
#1 (4 weeks)
Deember 14, 1990 – January 4, 1991
Garth Brooks takes the Radio & Records chart into 1991 with this long-running No. 1 single.
The Road to No. 1
Garth Brooks earned his fourth Radio & Records No. 1 of 1990 and his first Billboard No. 1 of 1991 with “Unanswered Prayers,” which followed on the heels of his signature smash hits “The Dance” and “Friends in Low Places.” Would his efforts dip down to those of mere mortals after those two undeniable classics?
The No. 1
No. No, they would not.
“Unanswered Prayers” is every bit as good as “The Dance” and “Friends in Low Places,” and it is understandable how these records combined to push Brooks to the front of the pack of the talented young country artists that were taking the genre by storm.
In fact, I’d argue that “Unanswered Prayers” benefits heavily from being recorded by Garth Brooks before he became Garth Brooks. You can hear him pushing back a bit against the restraints of a standard country ballad, flirting with that odd operatic style he’d use on later hit ballads once his star had fully risen.
Thankfully, he keeps himself in check here, letting the song do the heavy lifting. It’s a simple tale of a man realizing at a hometown football game that God had ignored his prayers to make his fellow classmate fall in love with him, and He’d done so because he was meant to be with the woman on his arm: “As she walked away, I looked at my wife. And then and there I thanked the good Lord for the blessings in my life.”
This was the peak of Garth as the every man, granting meaning and signficance to the otherwise mundane events in our lives. Yes, even that small town man who had his heart broken by a girl in high school and then married someone else is part of God’s greater plan. He’s also got some friends in low places to keep him company between his heart being broken and him meeting his soulmate.
The Road From No. 1
The Garth train is in full gear now, and 1991 will be another year of multiple No. 1 hits, record-shattering sales, and the sweeping of major industry awards. Stay tuned.
“Unanswered Prayers” gets an A.
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