“She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind”
Brooks & Dunn
Written by Ronnie Dunn
#1 (2 weeks)
October 15 – October 22, 1994
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
October 7, 1994
The lady as just a plot device makes its inevitable debut.
The Road to No. 1
Brooks & Dunn finished off their second studio album earlier in 1994, topping the charts with “That Ain’t No Way to Go.” They launched their third studio set, Waitin’ On Sundown, with their eighth No. 1 hit.
The No. 1
Ronnie Dunn not only wrote this one, but he also sang the hell out of it.
“She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind” is one of his best vocal performances to date. It does so much of the heavy lifting here, garnering empathy for the thinly written female character being sung about.
We’ve reached the point where the women in Brooks & Dunn songs exist for the sake of the storyline, and don’t have much of a resemblance to how sentient human beings think, act, and feel.
“She’s not the cheatin’ kind” makes for a great hook, but the song itself spends most of its time centering the cheating man. Everything she says and does is within the context of his actions. So she’s dressed to kill in a dress he bought her, and he doesn’t know what a good thing he had. Apparently this faithful, loving woman’s reaction to being cheated on is to go get drunk and get it on for some reason, instead of just packing up her stuff and moving out.
The whole thing has this tiresome undercurrent of a trophy wife being treated as property that’s going to get damaged because the man didn’t take care of it well enough.
The Road From No. 1
Brooks & Dunn followed this with a classic country weeper, “I’ll Never Forgive My Heart,” which went top ten. They returned to the top in 1995 with the album’s third single.
“She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind” gets a B-.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
Previous: Toby Keith, “Who’s That Man” |
Next: Garth Brooks, “Callin’ Baton Rouge”
It didn’t take long for the critics to start criticizing Brooks & Dunn’s output as cliched and contrived. Interestingly, it would take those same critics a bit longer to come around to recognizing what a brilliant vocalist Dunn was even, as Kevin points out, Dunn’s singing is what increasingly floated inconsistent, and often times thin, material. This single is a good example of that.
It’s easy to forget they were a polarizing act in their day and the duo received its fair share of pretty scathing criticism until their later-career renaissance.
I remember reading a record review by Bob Allen in a 1993 issue of Country Music Magazine for their Hard Workin’ Man album that kind of basically makes them sound like the 90’s version of bro-country or Florida Georgia Line. Bob’s review was actually quite humorous, but he was obviously criticizing them for having too many songs with the same themes (drinking, dancing, partying, etc.), and just overall not having as much meat in their songs, lyrically. It’s funny now, though, how much of B&D’s 90’s work might as well be Hank Williams compared to what we’ve had to put up with for the last decade and a half. I’ve also yet to hear FGL or any other bro-country act do anything as good as “Neon Moon,” “My Next Broken Heart,” “She Used To Be Mine,” “That Ain’t No Way To Go,” etc. or have a voice as great and full of emotion as Ronnie Dunn’s.
Personally, I also greatly prefer B&D’s 90’s work, in general, to much of their work from the 2000’s (Steers And Stripes is a good album, though). It’s true that much of their 90’s ditties are definitely on the lyrically light side and tend to lack fleshed out female characters, but for me, their 2000’s ditties like “Honky Tonk Stomp,” “Play Something Country,” “Hillbilly Deluxe,” and “Put A Girl In It” are ten times worse and rival Toby’s worst ditties from the same decade.
I’ll fully admit that this is one I enjoy much more for its overall sound, the insanely catchy hook, and of course, Ronnie Dunn’s excellent performance. While some of Don Cook’s production from the mid 90’s hasn’t aged quite as well for me, this song is one notable exception. The track still sounds very fresh and energetic to ears, and there’s something about that electric guitar solo I’ve always liked. Bruce Bouton’s steel playing throughout is also great to hear, and I love it when the harmony vocals kick in on the last two choruses after Ronnie sings “Sheeee…and the harmony vocals echo him. It’s just a great sounding track overall, which makes it too bad that there’s not as much there lyrically. I love the idea of the girl getting her revenge on the two timing fella, but there’s just not much there to make you really root for her.
This is one of many Brooks & Dunn songs I’d hear pretty regularly on the radio throughout the mid to late 90’s, so the nostalgia factor is there for me, as well. I especially remember liking this song even more after hearing it on B&D’s Greatest Hits Collection, which my dad got me for Christmas in 1997. Back then I remember really liking the lines in the second verse: “He didn’t know what a good thing he had. Well it’s too late, and that’s too bad!”
Man, I really wish “I’ll Never Forgive My Heart” was also a number one! Classic country weepers like that are right up my alley, and I consider that one of B&D’s best and most underrated ballads from the 90’s. I once read an interview with B&D in a 1995 issue of Country Music Magazine where Ronnie Dunn mentioned that those are the kind of songs he gravitated to the most, even though they were mostly known for dance friendly, lyrically lighter songs by then.