The Night I Called The Old Man Out

Album: In Pieces (1993)

Songfacts®:

  • This track from Garth Brooks' sixth album opens at the dinner table, where the singer has dared to challenge his tough-as-nails father. He realizes his mistake, but digs in his heels and wages a losing fight against the old man. He feels compassion for his dad, however, when he sees the tears in his eyes after their scuffle.
  • Despite the title, Brooks knew better than to call his old man out. The youngest of six kids, Brooks witnessed physical altercations between his brothers and his dad, a Marine Corps veteran and Golden Gloves boxer. Apparently, it was the way he commanded respect as the leader of his household, which instilled both fear and reverence in young Garth. "But I want to make sure you understand that I'm not defending my father or taking a position, I'm just telling you how it was," the singer explained in his 2017 book, The Anthology Part 1: The First Five Years. "There was democracy in our house. My dad was really open. In fact, I was amazed how open he was to people's opinions that he didn't share. The problem wasn't a difference of opinion, it was disrespect. That's when the red flag kind of came up. Then he just couldn't go backward anymore."
  • Brooks said the uptempo, almost frantic intro represents the tense moment where his character realizes he should apologize to diffuse the situation that's about to explode.
  • Brooks wrote this with his frequent songwriting partners Pat Alger ("Unanswered Prayers") and Kim Williams ("Papa Loved Mama").
  • This isn't the only song in Brooks' catalog that deals with domestic violence. His music video for "The Thunder Rolls" stirred controversy due to its storyline involving spousal abuse.
  • In Pieces, Brooks' sixth studio album, yielded two #1 hits on the Country chart: "Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)" and "American Honky-Tonk Bar Association."

Comments: 1

  • Al from IowaI was listening to In Pieces for the first time in over a decade and was kind of shocked that I never noticed how messed up this song is. It's quite literally a horrible example of child abuse that the narrator blames on themselves and sees nothing wrong with the bloody nose their dad gives them...wow!
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