Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Brooks & Dunn, “We’ll Burn That Bridge”

“We’ll Burn That Bridge”

Brooks & Dunn

Written by Don Cook and Ronnie Dunn

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

July 30, 1993

About as sturdily structured as a bridge on fire.

The Road to No. 1

After “Lost and Found” went top five, Brooks & Dunn matched its performance with the lead single and title track of their second studio album, Hard Workin’ Man.   The next two singles made it to No. 1.

The No. 1

This is the weaker of those two chart-toppers, and by a wide margin.

Here is where we start to get female characters that are constructed from cardboard, and they are a staple of the Brooks & Dunn catalog moving forward.

Not because of misogyny or anything.  Just from clunky songwriting that tries to build a compelling storyline around a throwaway metaphor.   This song isn’t really about the woman that Dunn greets with, “Hello, Miss Heartbroke. Sit your sweet self down.”  It’s about getting to the chorus so he can make a torturous connection between lighting up a new flame and burning an old bridge.

Legend has it that Kix Brooks missed out on a co-writing credit here because he couldn’t get past the fact that they got the saying wrong.  “It’s not ‘we’ll burn that bridge when we get there,'” he argued. “It’s ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.'”

He’s not wrong.  But it’s the least of this song’s problems.

What saves it from being a total mess is a playful Dunn vocal and some killer fiddle work.  But neither of those make the price of entry worth paying.

The Road From No. 1

Next up is a heartfelt ballad that is grounded in reality.  We’ll get there before the end of 1993.

“We’ll Burn That Bridge” gets a C.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. Brooks is wrong. The fun of the lyric as written is the inversion of our expectation of the phrase. To cross the bridge implies options one of which includes turning around and going back. It depends upon open connections.

    This guy doesn’t want that!

    To burn the bridge when we get there implies wanting to preemptively build a new relationship on scorched – not solid – ground with this woman’s past. This guy is promising a relationship with his new flame so hot he can burn any bridges or connections to her past with “ole what’s his name.”

    It’s a fire kindled with old flames with the hope of blazing a bonfire of their own.

    I think it’s a fun take on the notion of “burning bridges.”

    This guy is celebrating, and not regretting, burning bridges.

    Those fiddles do provide the spark!

  2. Yeah, I do think we’re starting to get to the point where more of the singles were seemingly designed for the dance craze that was red hot at the time and not much more. This is definitely B&D’s least memorable and more “filler” like single up to this point in their careers. That being said, this is still a pretty fun listen for me, and I like the catchy melody and overall production. Ronnie also turns in a solid, fun performance. I didn’t know that bit about Kix concerning this song, so that was pretty interesting to read.

    Btw, I actually really like the Hard Workin’ Man album even though it’s not quite as solid as their debut. I still think “Our Time Is Coming” would’ve made an awesome single, especially. I’ve always loved the title track, too!

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