Cold Shoulder

Album: Ropin' The Wind (1991)

Songfacts®:

  • Garth Brooks got the idea for this classic country cut about a lonely trucker while he was driving home for Christmas and spotted a semi-tractor trailer rig parked on the shoulder of the road. "I knew that's how this guy's going to spend Christmas Eve before going to work all day Christmas Day, and I thought, Man, what a bummer that is," he explained in his 2017 book The Anthology Part 1: The First Five Years. "Because Christmas is everything to me, and so it just hit me that it's just a cold shoulder he's on. I started thinking, Wow, if we could take the listener from where they're thinking he's in this warm place, painting this nice, pleasing picture where everything's just great, and then hit them with the truth, that it's a harsh reality, hard work, work that takes you away from your family. I could hear those big, high harmonies."
  • Brooks wrote this with his frequent collaborators Kent Blazy ("If Tomorrow Never Comes") and Kim Williams ("New Way To Fly"). The trio also wrote "What Never Happened (Is What I'll Never Forget)," which was recorded by country singer David Grey, during the session.
  • Like many of Brooks' tunes, this features his future wife Trisha Yearwood on harmony. Yearwood recalled in The Anthology Part 1: "I remember singing the last chorus straight, and then Garth asked me to try the pedal the other two voices were doing. I think Garth is really good at not overusing those choice harmonies, so it makes you want to hear more of it and how special it is. You find yourself wanting to get to that last chorus." Incidentally, Brooks credited his producer, Allen Reynolds, for reserving the lick for the last chorus. "I would have used that lick on every chorus, but Allen has this thing called 'taste,'" he laughed.
  • This appears on Brooks' third studio album, Ropin' The Wind, which boasted the hit singles "What She's Doing Now," "Shameless," and "The River." With its chart-topping debut, it made Brooks the first country artist in Billboard history to debut at #1 in America. This was partly due to the newly instituted SoundScan technology that allowed album sales to be tracked digitally rather than manually, which produced more accurate results.

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