Written by Larry Bastian
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
September 27, 1991
Garth Brooks launches his third album with a familiar theme.
The Road to No. 1
With seven consecutive No. 1 singles under his belt, Brooks previewed his third studio album, Ropin’ the Wind, with “Rodeo.”
The No. 1
Ropin’ the Wind is the first studio album that Brooks recorded as an established superstar. The project strikes a balance between pushing his sound forward and delivering what fans had demonstrated an appetite for, with the lead single falling into the latter category.
And herein lies the rub: Brooks had already sung about the rodeo on his debut single, “Much Too Young (to Feel This Damn Old),” which was superior to “Rodeo” in every way.
Here, he shifts from the compelling first person perspective to the third person point of view, talking about another cowboy instead of himself. Where “Much Too Young” evoked sympathy for its lonely, struggling protagonist, “Rodeo” is content to just list a series of descriptive phrases as about the rodeo itself.
We never get around to caring about the rider or the woman who loves him, because the song is too busy trying to tell us what rodeo looks like, as if “Much Too Young” and “Amarillo By Morning” didn’t already exist.
“Rodeo” also heralds the arrival of Garth’s tendency to oversing, as if he’s forgotten he’s in a studio and not a stadium.
Ropin’ the Wind will produce a handful of great singles, but this simply isn’t one of them.
The Road From No. 1
Brooks will cover Billy Joel on his next single, with a little help from his future wife.
“Rodeo” gets a C.