Wolves

Album: No Fences (1990)

Songfacts®:

  • Written by Stephanie Davis, this is the closing track to Garth Brooks' second studio album, No Fences. Davis, a Montana native, was a struggling songwriter working odd jobs typing term papers for college kids when she took a break to pour her heart out on her guitar. Aside from her own struggles, she was worried about her home state, which was in the midst of a farm crisis. Her own grandparents had toiled as farmers and sold their homestead for a pittance back in the 1940s, and Davis always dreamed of earning enough money to buy it back. After writing a couple verses about desperate folks losing their land, she thought the song was too negative for Music Row, which was preoccupied with positive, upbeat tunes. She threw the paper away, only for her boyfriend to fish it out of the garbage and convince her to give it another go.
  • Brooks first heard the song in 1988 while he was still putting together his debut album. He and his friend Randy Taylor, who co-wrote his debut single, "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)," were playing darts at Nashville's Douglas Corner Café while Davis was performing on stage. Brooks, who was initially skeptical when Davis said the song was on hold for Willie Nelson, was embarrassed to find himself at the front of the crowd, staring at her in awe by the end of the performance.

    Davis recollected in Brooks' 2017 book, The Anthology Part 1: The First Five Years: "Now, I'd met Garth several months before, but this time he was dressed differently. He had these terrible Bermuda shorts on and his ball cap on backwards, playing darts in the back. I just didn't recognize him. When I got to 'Wolves,' not many other people are listening, but this guy just started walking slowly up to the stage until he's standing there in front of me, holding this dart in his hand, kind of pointing it at me."

    Brooks, who recorded the tune after Nelson backed out, explained his reaction: "In Oklahoma, there were the two kinds of people: poor with land and poor without. But these guys that had it, they're fighting like hell just to hang on to it. That story hit me like a ton of bricks."
  • Davis got an unexpected call from Brooks late one night, who said he had just recorded her song and wanted to play it for her over the phone. "I just sat on the living room floor of my little place and cried like a baby," she said, "not just because somebody had cut my song, but because his record of it was so true, so perfect."
  • With her royalties, Davis bought a piece of land near her grandparents' old farm in Montana.
  • Brooks recorded several more songs by Davis, including "We Shall Be Free" (which he co-wrote) and "Learning To Live Again." Aside from songwriting, Davis also released seven of her own albums between 1993 and 2009.
  • No Fences, a #1 hit on the Country Albums chart, is known for its four #1 singles: "Friends In Low Places," "Unanswered Prayers," "Two Of A Kind, Workin' On A Full House," and "The Thunder Rolls."
  • Gretchen Peters, along with Tom Russell, recorded this for her 2009 album, One To The Heart, One To The Head.

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