Friends in Low Places
Writer(s): DeWayne Blackwell, Earl “Bud” Lee (see lyrics here)
Released: August 6, 1990
First Charted: August 18, 1990
Peak: 14 CW, 36 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 136.04 video, -- streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
This crowd-pleasing “ballad about a cowboy who turns up at the engagement party or wedding reception of an old flame” CL owes its birth to an embarrassing incident in which one of the song’s writers couldn’t play his restaurant bill. A group of songwriters, including Bud Lee and DeWayne Blackwell, met for lunch and at the end of the meal, Lee confessed that he’d forgotten his wallet. He assured the group there was nothing to worry about – “I have friends in low places. I know the cook.” CL
A few days later, the pair were shopping for boots. When the store clerk found out they were songwriters, he said he was trying to make it in Nashville and would love to record some demos for them. They agreed and Garth Brooks’ career was launched. CL
Months went by before Lee and Blackwell turned the phrase “friends in low places” into a song. When they asked Brooks to demo it, he had some exciting news – he had landed a deal with Capitol Records. He had finished his first album and its debut single was set for release in a few weeks.
It meant that “Friends in Low Places” marked Brooks’ last work as a demo singer. As he said, though, “for the next 2 weeks the chorus to this song kept running through my head. I knew it would be a year and a half before the release of No Fences because Garth Brooks was just getting ready to be released. I asked Bud Lee and Dewayne if I could hold onto it and, without a blink of an eye, they both said yes. Putting that kind of faith into an unknown artist is unheard of. Thanks Bud and Dewayne for believing in me.’” SF
In reality, almost a year before Brooks’ rendition of the song emerged, Mark Chesnutt recorded a more down-tempo version for his Too Cold at Home album, but it wasn’t released as a single. SF Brooks recorded the song for his second album, No Fences, and it was released as the first single. It took home Single of the Year honors from both the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and the Country Music Association (CMA).
First posted 8/18/2011; last updated 10/27/2021.