Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Garth Brooks, “That Summer”

“That Summer”

Garth Brooks

Written by Pat Alger, Garth Brooks, and Sandy Mahl


#1 (1 week)

July 3, 1993

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

June 18 – June 25, 1993

Garth Brooks tops the chart with an adolescent fantasy.

The Road to No. 1

The Chase produced the No. 1 hits “Somewhere Other Than the Night” and “Learning to Live Again” in advance of “That Summer,” the fourth and final single from the album.

The No. 1

The Chase was a strange project for Garth Brooks at the time.  It was more reflective and somber than his previous albums, and it took until the fourth single, “That Summer,” for the album to produce a hit that was more in line with his earlier work.

The storyline is improbable, but that may be why “That Summer” works so well.  It’s an adolescent fantasy of first love, where the teenage hired hand is seduced by the widowed farmer “hellbent to make it on her own.”   True to form, Garth creates a female character that is defined by more than just her lustful desires:

She came to me one evening
Hot cup of coffee and a smile
In a dress that I was certain
She hadn’t worn in quite a while

There was a difference in her laughter
There was a softness in her eyes
And on the air there was a hunger
Even a boy could recognize

He follows this with the observation that “I watched her hands of leather turn to velvet in a touch,” which is a sudden realization that she’d been working the land herself, perhaps even alongside her husband when he was still around.  This is not the stuff of Letters to Penthouse.  The woman has an identity and storyline completely separate from this interaction, and we’re given glimpses of it through well-crafted songwriting.   She’s grounded in reality, even if the storyline is not.

It’s hard to believe that this isn’t even the best “virginity lost on a summer farm” No. 1 single that we’ll cover this decade.

The Road From No. 1

1993 was a great chart year for Garth, with three No. 1 singles from The Chase being followed by two No. 1 singles from his fifth album before the year was out.

“That Summer” gets an A. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Vince Gill, “No Future in the Past”


  1. One of the few “Summer songs” I’ve actually always really liked. This one still sounds so fresh and energetic today that it’s always been kind of hard to believe that it came from an album released in 1992 and from one of Garth’s more ballad heavy albums. Love the detail in the songwriting, which you’ve pointed out, and the insanely catchy melody, and solid guitar work coupled with Bruce Bouton’s in your face steel playing. While there is definitely a lot of heartland rock influence, the opening steel alone sure lets you know that you’re listening to a country song. It’s a winning combination, imo, and it’s just yet another thing I miss about 90’s country.

    This was another one I would always hear on the radio pretty frequently as a recurrent when I got back into listening to country radio in the mid 90’s. It seemed there was rarely ever a time in which I didn’t hear it whenever I was in the car with either my dad or step dad. As a kid still, I always enjoyed it simply because it was really catchy and the chorus where he sang “She had a need to feel the thunder…” just seemed so badass. To me, it was just a feel good song with a lot of energy and I always loved the steel playing in it. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked when I first started paying closer attention to the lyrics as I got older and discovered what it was really about, lol.

    It actually continued to get a lot of recurrent play around 2004, which was also when I finally picked up a copy of The Chase. Still, I wish I got to hear it back when it was a new single. I bet it sounded awesome on the radio in the Summer of ’93!

  2. What a catchy song! I love this one.

    I do have to say that Allen Reynolds gave Garth a unique sound. I would always know it was a garth song by the way the steel guitar blended with whatever other kind of instrumentation was part of the song.

  3. This song is absolutely in Garth’s wheelhouse, lyrically and sonically, and he crushes it.

    What a reminder of how interesting and fun it is to have to properly listen to a song from start to finish.

    As counterpoint to to Kevin’s claim that this is adult fantasy fare, a roommate of mine who hated country music heard this song and was floored by it because he had such a romantic experience during a summer job. Maybe just evidence of what close bedfellows truth and fantasy are.

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