Smoke Rings in the Dark

Album: Smoke Rings in the Dark (1999)
Charted: 76
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  • The title track from Gary Allan's third studio album was written by Nashville songwriters Rivers Rutherford and Houston Robert. The narrator laments that all that's left of his burning love is "smoke rings in the dark."

    Rutherford says the song was actually inspired by his co-writer. He explained to Rolling Stone: "One of my best friends is Houston Robert, a cowboy out of South Louisiana. He's the only guy I ever knew who moved to Nashville to make music so that he could make some money and go back and be a cowboy. He was working in a ranch in south Nashville, probably 90–100 hours a week. So his wife said, 'If you're going to keep working like this, let's move back home.' And he kept saying to her, 'Just two more weeks… just two more weeks.' So he came over - it was around 2:00 a.m. on a really cold night - and he stepped out on my porch to have a cigarette. He had a cowboy hat and this long duster on, and he flicked the cigarette out into my yard. I saw this long, spiral trail of red sparks behind it, and the line 'smoke rings in the dark' popped into my head. I thought it was a great metaphor for their relationship."
  • This peaked at #12 on the country chart.
  • Gary Allan's producer, Mark Wright, wanted the song for the singer's upcoming album, but had one caveat when it came to the lyric. Rutherford recalled to American Songwriter:

    "I asked [Wright], 'What are you looking for?' He said, 'Kind of a cross between Chris Isaak and Don Henley.' Houston and I had just finished the song so I played it for him and his first comment was, 'Ok, love it, we're cutting it, but you need to flip the first two verses.'"

    So the verses were switched, and what had actually been the second verse became the first verse of the final version of the song.
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Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyHere's some obscure trivia:
    On January 21st 1908, the New York City Board of Aldermen passed the Sullivan Ordinance, making smoking by women illegal; two weeks later Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. vetoed the measure...
    And ninety-one years later in 1999 Gary Allan's "Smoke Rings In the Dark" peaked at #12 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart; it reached #5 on the Canadian Country Singles chart and #76 on the Hot Top 100 chart...
    He has had four #1 records on the Hot Country Singles chart; "Man to Man" in 2002, "Tough Little Boys" in 2003, "Nothing On But the Radio On" in 2004, and "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)" in 2012.
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