Originally recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys in 1978, followed by New Grass Revival in 1989, this country tune was made famous by Garth Brooks when he recorded it for his sixth studio album, In Pieces. It finds him in the role of a trucker pleading with the operator to connect him with Baton Rouge, Louisiana, so he can talk to the woman he temporarily left behind.
Peaking at #37 on the Country chart, this was the New Grass Revival's highest-charting single. Their bluegrass take, featured on their 1989 album, Friday Night In America, blew Brooks away. Knowing it had the potential to be a much bigger hit, he decided to record it himself. Brooks invited the group, who disbanded in 1989, to support him on the track, including Sam Bush (fiddle and mandolin), Bela Fleck (banjo), Pat Flynn (acoustic guitar), and John Cowan (harmony vocals).
Brooks put his own rock spin on the tune, he explained in his 2017 book, The Anthology: The First Five Years: "What we put into the mix was that hard-rock bottom end. Nobody had hit the Rockman on this thing, and it's going to grab your attention, grab you by the collar and shake the shit out of you the whole time you're singing it."
This was written by Dennis Linde, who wrote Elvis Presley's 1972 hit "Burning Love
" and "Goodbye Earl
" by the Dixie Chicks.
Brooks' version peaked at #2 on the Country chart. It was held off from the top spot by "She's Not The Cheatin' Kind" by Brooks & Dunn.
In Pieces was Brooks' fourth #1 album on the Country chart. It was also his third album to debut at #1 in America.
Brooks' version is the pre-game song for Louisiana State University's Fighting Tigers football team. It's also the run-out song for the university's Tigers baseball team.