“She Used to Be Mine”
Brooks & Dunn
Written by Ronnie Dunn
#1 (1 week)
November 13, 1993
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
November 5, 1993
A heartbroke ballad returns Brooks & Dunn to the top spot.
The Road to No. 1
Hard Workin’ Man had already produced a No. 1 hit with its second single, “We’ll Burn That Bridge.” While that hit only topped the Radio & Records survey, its follow-up became their first Billboard No. 1 hit since “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.”
The No. 1
Brooks & Dunn’s sophomore effort didn’t feature as compelling upbeat material as their debut, but they did a lot better with their ballads.
“She Used to Be Mine” is a lonesome lament, with our protagonist beating himself up as he places the blame for his breakup completely on himself. Dunn gives his strongest vocal performance to date, really leaning into his honky tonk roots. This could’ve been a hit thirty years earlier – or even thirty years later, if country radio hadn’t lost the plot a few years ago.
He’s a sorrowful soul in the corner, trying to disguise his pain and shame as he sees with his own eyes how much more beautiful she is in the arms of someone who treats her right.
Some truly great fiddle work here too, including a mini-instrumental break right before the second verse. This is one of their finest and perhaps one of their most forgotten moments.
The Road From No. 1
“Rock My World (Little Country Girl)” was sent to radio next as the obvious attempt to recreate “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” dance mix and all. It went top five. Brooks & Dunn will be back at No. 1 in 1994 with the final single from this album, which is another winning ballad.
“She Used to Be Mine” gets an A.
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Critics and purists who still want to dismiss Brooks & Dunn as dance music fluff from the 90’s need to hear performances like this. Listening to Dunn sing the tar out of these lyrics makes me wonder why it took so long to acknowledge him as not just one of the finest vocalists from B&D’s era, but in all of country music’s history.
The fiddle really does both smolder and shine on this song, no?
It’s amazing how in three consecutive decades, we got one of the best vocalists in history as part of a duo: Wynonna in the eighties, Ronnie Dunn in the nineties, and Jennifer Nettles in the 00’s.
Probably one of my favorite B&D ballads of all time! This is indeed one Ronnie Dunn’s finest vocal performances. It’s so good that it makes you feel sorry for the narrator, even though he was the reason for the breakup. It’s also one of those songs in which you can just picture the events in the song happening in your head like a mini movie. And yes, the lonesome fiddle does an excellent job of reflecting the loneliness and regret that the narrator is feeling.
Unfortunately, this was another ’93 number one that got little to no recurrent play in our area, and I didn’t hear it until my dad got me B&D’s Greatest Hits Collection for Christmas in 1997. I remember it being one of my “new” favorites whenever I’d listen to that cd. I grew to love it even more when I picked up a used copy of the Hard Workin’ Man album around 2004. I agree that the ballads are generally the strongest points on that album, though I also love the title track.
Looking forward to the next B&D entry, which is another favorite of mine!
One of my favourite B&D songs! Just awesome!