Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Brooks & Dunn, “I am That Man”

“I am That Man

Brooks & Dunn

Written by Terry McBride and Monty Powell

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

August 16, 1996

Brooks & Dunn releases its first truly boring single.

The Road to No. 1

“My Maria” launched Borderline with a multi-week No. 1 hit, which was followed by a Terry McBride song, the lead singer of McBride & the Ride.

The No. 1

And it sure sounds like a McBride & the Ride song, doesn’t it?

Their ballads tended to be a few beats too slow with a tepid melody and off the shelf lyrics, sometimes salvaged by their harmonies.

Having Ronnie Dunn, one of the best country vocalists in history, sing one of them is like watching a drag car racer drive around in a go kart.

There’s just nothing here for him to work with. The lyrics are bland, and they don’t match up with the melody, forcing Dunn to stretch out words in the verses to make them fit.

The promise doesn’t feel like its genuine or like it’s a really good con leading up to a one night stand.  Even if he is that man, he’s as dull as dishwater and still alone because he can’t hit talk to a woman without lulling her to sleep.

The Road From No. 1

Brooks & Dunn’s next single, “Mama Don’t Get Dressed Up For Nothing,” ended their run of consecutive top ten singles at 17 when it peaked in the top fifteen.  We’ll see them again with the fourth single, a stronger ballad than this one, in early 1997.

“I am That Man” gets a C-.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. You are treading on sacred ground for this McBride and The Ride fan!

    I think there is a relaxed looseness and ease to this song, an aw-shucks modesty and shyness even.

    The clean production sounds great. I love how the the fiddle confidently announces and declares itself throughout the song, echoing what the narrator is saying which is basically, “Here I am.” The mood of the song works to my ears because Dunn’s vocals have room to stretch and breathe, filling potentially awkward silences in this conversation with a subtle confidence. Dunn plays the country bumpkin well here.

  2. C- is a fair grade for this song – Ronnie sounds a little bored as he’s singing it. I’m not incredibly familiar with M&tR other than their two big singles, but I still think “Just One Night” is one of the best ballads of the early 90s.

    • “I Am That Man” sounds like it’s a McBride & The Ride song that leaves space for the harmonies, and they never got around to adding them in. It probably would’ve worked great if the trio had recorded it, but I think they’d already been reinvented as Terry McBride & The Ride by then.

  3. I’m with Peter in that I actually like this one. I think it’s a well done, classy and mature ballad, overall. It reminds me more of the kind of ballads that would become more abundant in the late 90’s. I especially love Don Cook’s more clean production style here that would be more common in B&D’s late 90’s music, plus other artists produced by Cook. It’s aged quite well, to my ears. I also like the charming kind of confidence the narrator displays in the song, and like Peter, I also think Ronnie plays the part well enough.

    I actually remember hearing this one when it was new one night while in the car with my parents, and my dad, especially, seemed to like it. I had almost forgotten about it after that, though, and I wouldn’t hear it again until I got the Borderline album in 2002. That’s actually when I grew to really love this song, and it’s been one of my favorites on that album ever since. My dad always enjoyed it, as well, whenever it came on one of my mix cd’s.

    Also, every time I hear this song, I think about a comment I read online ages ago on a thread discussing misheard lyrics. One person said it always sounded like Ronnie was saying “I am Batman” in the chorus. For some reason, that always stuck with me (Well, I do love me some Batman), and now I can never unhear it, lol.

    Speaking of McBride & The Ride, I also have to disagree with the statement in the review concerning much of their ballads. I personally think they put out some really beautiful songs throughout the early 90’s, especially “Same Old Star.” I also really love their first three albums. I do think they would’ve done a great job on this song if the original trio was still together in 1996. Since the guys are actually back together again, it’d be cool to see them do a version of it.

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