Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, “Modern Day Romance”

“Modern Day Romance”

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Written by Kix Brooks and Dan Tyler

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

August 16, 1985


#1 (1 week)

September 14, 1985

It’s a shame that this Kix Brooks-penned Nitty Gritty Dirt Band chart topper isn’t widely available on streaming platforms, because it’s such a fantastic story song.

It tells the tale of a man who falls for a woman who is struggling with her car on the side of the road.  He ends up journeying with her for a brief period of time, and they end up in Reno.  They don’t gamble and they barely eat, but what they do find time for leaves him head over heels in love with her.

Alas, this modern day romance ends with a note in a hotel room.  She thanks him for the good times but she’s already moved on.  The gender roles may be reversed, but the story is the same: one caught feelings while the other caught the next train out of town.

It’s a shame Brooks & Dunn never revisited this one, because it deserves to be widely heard.  

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s No. 1 singles are this great.  They’re the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  But this one’s a gem that’s been lost to the ages.  It’s worth seeking out.

Grade: A

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Huh. I had forgotten this was co-written by Kix Brooks. It’s always been a favorite.

    Not sure if it still is, but I know this whole album was on Spotify at one point, and I purchased the digital version from Amazon back in 2019.

  2. …next stop on that road – heart’s “all i wanna do is make love to you”. great songs. ah, what would i have given to see nancy wilson live and kickin’ while doing her stuff with that guitar.
    john mceuen telling banjo jokes is actually quite something too, i had the pleasure of finding out a few years ago. great pickin’ meets great sense of humor.

  3. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band largely existed on the periphery of mainstream country music despite a number of compelling chart-toppers such as this hit single.

    It is a great reminder that “It is ever thus” with acts like this who successfully walk the artistic-commercial line.

    Alt-country and Americana music didn’t emerge out of thin air.

    For as a great a run of singles they had in the ’80s, come the nineties, their chart success went off a cliff.

    In the back half of the decade, the variety of country bands in Nashville was intriguing. You had: Alabama, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Forrester Sisters, The Statler Brothers, Exile, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sawyer Brown, The Gatlin Brothers, and Restless Heart.

    I love this song. It is well written and performed.

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