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On Garth Brooks: The Hits
Garth says: "'Friends in Low Places' was the last demo session I ever did as a singer. The demo was for Bud Lee and Dewayne Blackwell. I sang the session out in Hendersonville, and for the next 2 weeks the chorus to this song kept running through my head. I knew it would be a year and a half before the release of No Fences
because Garth Brooks
was just getting ready to be released. I asked Bud Lee and Dewayne if I could hold onto it and, without a blink of an eye, they both said yes. Putting that kind of faith into an unknown artist is unheard of. Thanks Bud and Dewayne for believing in me."
This ballad about a cowboy who turns up at the engagement party or wedding reception of an old flame is a crowd pleaser. Brooks introduces it with a four note arpeggio on his acoustic guitar, which inevitably brings roars of applause. After the second verse he invites the audience - the friends in low places - to sing the mysterious third verse - which is only ever performed live, and which contains - by 21st Century standards - an extremely mild expletive.
Mark Chesnutt recorded a more down-tempo version of this song almost a year before Garth Brooks did, though Chesnutt's version was not a single. Chesnutt's appears on his album Too Cold at Home
The Stories Behind Country Music's All-Time Greatest 100 Songs, Bud Lee explained that he got the title one day when he and some fellow Nashville songwriters (including his writing partner Dewayne Blackwell) were having lunch at a restaurant called Tavern on the Row. When the check came, Lee realized he didn't have any money, and said not to worry because "I have friends in low places. I know the cook."
Garth Brooks closed the last ever episode of The Tonight Show
to be hosted by Jay Leno with a performance of this song (Leno had hosted the program for 22 years). Brooks also sang "The Dance
" on the show.