Cost of Livin'

Album: Ronnie (2011)
Charted: 86

Songfacts®:

  • Country music artist Ronnie Dunn's second solo single following the disbanding of the Brooks & Dunn duo is a working man's job application during difficult economic times. "Three dollars and change at the pump," he sings, "the cost of livin's high and going up."
  • The song was originally penned by songwriter Phillip Coleman before Dunn rewrote the chorus and hook back in 2008.
  • Dunn told the story of the song in an interview with Country Music Is Love: "Phillip Coleman had written almost the entire song, all the verses and stuff. It didn't have a title. It didn't have a hook line [or] a chorus. I asked when I first heard it if I could have a shot at it, [saying], 'Could you just give me two days? I won't hold it up or anything.'"

    After Dunn came up with the lines, "two dollars and change at the pump, cost of living's high and going up," the song quickly finished itself.
  • Back in 2008, the US was reeling from financial losses all across the country, however some of the label chiefs were confident things would improve. "I had one of the record guys saying, 'The economy will be turned around by the time you can get this song out,'" Dunn revealed. Because of the head honcho's optimism, the singer had to go back into the studio to make the lyrics say "three dollars and change at the pump," instead of two dollars.
  • Dunn's record label had some concerns that the country star was not in a position to sing the song. He told Country Music Is Love. "I had another executive come to me and say 'Hey, you're too wealthy to record it, you can't say all this'. "Well, I grew up in trailer houses in New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Don't pull that one on me, man," he replied. "We can all relate to it. I even look today at the cost to run a bus, it's insane."
  • Dunn originally cut this with a full band but the final version on the record is sparser. The singer told American Songwriter magazine that after the originally recording, he tried to work on his vocals but couldn't get his head round it. "So I stripped it back to a bass, drums, and an organ," Dunn explained. "I let the organ and the volume, I followed that for the dynamics and found a place for it. I remember the engineer standing right here. I remember him jumping up at the end saying, 'Got it! Got it! I can't believe you hooked a song like that!' I said, 'I know, I know.' I've never taken one on like that before. He was just jumping off the floor. But I learned that that sparseness can really be your friend."

Comments: 1

  • Sarah Hope from Victoria BcBeing new to a province. In a world of chaos ( covid-19) this song hit home. Thank God I got to hear it.
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