Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Brooks & Dunn, “A Man This Lonely”

“A Man This Lonely

Brooks & Dunn

Written by Ronnie Dunn and Tommy Lee James


#1 (1 week)

February 22, 1997

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

February 7, 1997

Brooks & Dunn return to the top with a heartfelt ballad.

The Road to No. 1

After “My Maria” and “I am That Man” both went to No. 1, Borderline‘s third single, “Mama Don’t Get Dressed Up For Nothing,” became Brooks & Dunn’s first single to miss the top ten.  They rebounded with the fourth single from the album.

The No. 1

“A Man This Lonely” has what was missing on “I am That Man.”

The melody is strong, the production features more prominent country instrumentation, and the tempo moves along enough to keep the proceedings from dragging.

There’s also much more going on emotionally.  What starts as a requiem for an abandoned heart slowly transforms into a statement of gratitude for the new woman in his life.

Dunn’s powerful vocal pivots from despondent to grateful without missing a beat, again reaffirming his place among the strongest male vocalists of his generation. This is one of his finest moments on record.

The Road From No. 1

“Why Would I Say Goodbye” was the final single from Borderline, and it went top ten.  The duo then went top five with the lead single from their first hits package, “Honky Tonk Truth.”  They’d return to the top in 1998 with the second single from that package, followed by a superstar collaboration that made Music Row history.

“A Man This Lonely” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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Next: Vince Gill, “Pretty Little Adriana”


  1. One of my all time favorite B&D ballads! I personally consider this to be one of Ronnie Dunn’s finest ever vocal performances.

    While The Mavericks and James House were the artists most obviously influenced by the Man In Shades, it seems like from the mid-late 90’s, many different artists also had at least one “Roy Orbison moment.” For Dwight Yoakam, it was “Ain’t That Lonely Yet.” For Trisha Yearwood, it was “There Goes My Baby.” For Patty Loveless, it was “To Have You Back Again” (and maybe to some extent, “Lonely Too Long”). Even John Michael Montgomery had one with “How Was I To Know.” For Brooks & Dunn, I would definitely say it was with “A Man This Lonely.”

    I absolutely love the beautiful melancholy melody and moody electric guitar playing throughout. Ronnie Dunn’s vocals at times even remind me a bit of the greatness of Orbison influenced Raul Malo, especially when he sings in the bridge “All that’s on my mind now is you by by siiiiiiide.” And man, do I love it when he just soars on the song’s final chorus in the higher key. Hearing him belt out “Ohhhhh a man this loooonely!” during those final moments of the song still never fails to give me chills. I even love the sound of the background vocals echoing Dunn’s lines throughout that last chorus. Not to mention, this is also probably one of Dunn’s best emotional performances, as well. And I just have to talk about that gorgeous moody electric guitar solo again. Not only does the sound of that guitar take me back to great times in the 90’s when many other country artists were honoring Roy Orbison, but it also reminds me of certain 50’s/early 60’s songs (namely The Ventures’ “Walk, Don’t Run”) and even Chris Isaak, who was bringing a lot of that style back in the 90’s, as well.

    I remember one day around late 1996 when Dad and I were in the car, he was telling me that Brooks & Dunn had a new song out, and he was pretty sure that I was going to like it. Well, it wasn’t too long after that when we started hearing it on the radio almost every time we were in the car together, and each time, he would get excited and turn up the volume and sing along with it some. And it also turned out that he was right. I too ended up really enjoying the song, especially its beautiful melody, that electric guitar, and Ronnie Dunn’s singing. Perhaps, maybe because I also really loved Patty Loveless’ “Lonely Too Long” back then, which also featured a moody electric guitar solo and characters who have been…well…lonely too long, he figured I’d take a liking to this one, too. Well, that and also generally liking B&D, of course. :)

    Unfortunately, this one didn’t come on the radio quite as often anymore in our area after its chart run was over, but whenever it did, it sure was a heck of a treat AND a nice trip down memory lane. One night in the Summer of 1998, we were shopping for a new car at Radley Chevrolet in Fredericksburg, VA, and my step dad, mom, and I were test driving a silver mist colored Chevy Malibu that I absolutely LOVED. I just really loved riding around in that car and felt so cool! The experience was made only better when there were great tunes playing on the radio of the new car (Patty Loveless’ “High On Love” was playing while one of the salesmen was still riding with us as we went up and down the road in front of the dealership). Well, they let us take it home that night to make up our minds about it, which made me so excited. Coincidentally, one of the first songs we heard in the new Malibu after we left the dealership that night was “There Goes My Baby” by Trisha, one of the Orbison like songs I mentioned above. And then just when we were almost out of Fredericksburg, “A Man This Lonely” came on as a pleasant surprise. I was just simply enjoying every bit of that moment! Not only was I riding in the back of a cool new car that I was in love with, but I was also now getting take a nice little trip down memory lane with this beautiful song I hadn’t heard in quite a while. I especially loved hearing the sound of that electric guitar again, which really took me back. I also remember thinking that 93.3 WFLS was really killing it that night with the song selection, since both “A Man This Lonely” and “There Goes My Baby” were songs that sounded so good when riding around at night, especially. And somehow, they sounded even better while in that cool new silver mist Chevy Malibu. :) Unfortunately, we ended up not getting that car, but we did still get a ’98 Malibu that year, with the color being sandstone instead.

    The song’s video is also quite pretty, and once again, I love the beautiful southwestern setting featured here, which definitely seemed to be one of the main trademarks of their 90’s videos.

    I also really adore “Why Would I Say Goodbye” and wish that one also reached number one. I always loved hearing it on the radio during the spring and summer of 1997, and it’s one of their more “forgotten” hits that I’ll still gladly go to bat for.

    • Jamie,

      Out of curiosity where are you from? You mentioned Fredericksburg, Va and I live a hour away from there in Mechanicsville, VA and lived near the short pump area growing up. Small world lol.

      • Mom and I are in Woodbridge right now. We lived in Fredericksburg for a while in 1992, though, and we still spent a lot of time in the area after that. I’d love to move there someday. Well, either that or Pennsylvania. :)

        Btw, we’ve been to Mechanicsville, too!

  2. Dunn’s vocals ring out with crystal-like clarity. A stunning showcase for him. As has been mentioned, the production flatters and compliments the singing at every turn. Such a clean and beautiful song. I agree is it one of the duos many “best” moments.

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