Garth Brooks, Ronnie Dunn Talk ‘Rodeo Man’ And Their Shared Legacy

Garth Brooks and Ronnie Dunn have a joint hit at radio, with their new single, “Rodeo Man,” out now. The song, on Brooks’ just-released Time Traveler album, was written by Phil O’Donnell and Dunn, who sent the song to Brooks himself.

“So I write this song,” Dunn tells Taste of Country. “I send it to my buddy here and say, ‘Listen to it.’ Next thing you know, he’s cutting it.”

Brooks knew right away he wanted to record the song, but only with Dunn’s blessing — and his vocals.

“I texted him and said, ‘I don’t want to get in on your song, I don’t want to do anything. I would take a look at that first verse and kind of see …,'” Brooks remembers. “The door opened a little bit and I was lucky enough to get to sing with Ronnie Dunn.”

The two, now friends, were once friendly competitors, Brooks as a solo artist and Dunn as one-half of Brooks & Dunn. Both acts were climbing up the charts at the same time in the early ’90s, with both of them also finding themselves often nominated in the same categories at awards shows.

“One of my favorite sayings is, ‘There’s room in the business for everybody,’ Everybody says that, and then behind the curtain we’re going, ‘Get me a faster horse!'” Dunn says with a laugh.


“Amen,” Brooks remarks. “We’re sitting at the ACMs, we’re both up for Entertainer of the Year, you guys win it. I’m staring at you going up the steps … Half of you is happy, but half of you is not happy. It’s just so good, but I can think of guys, other artists that it felt like we were competing with. For you guys [Brooks & Dunn], I always felt like I was pulling for you.”

Both Dunn and Brooks resonated with “Rodeo Man,” with each of them having a long history of hit songs that have a nod to the Western culture. When Dunn, born and raised in Texas, joined his talents with Kix Brooks, he was so ingrained in that culture, he never imagined a career that expanded across the country.

“Kix and I thought, when we first got together, we’re probably not going to go any further than Texas, Oklahoma, maybe a little bit of Louisiana,” Dunn recalls. “That’d be fine. We’d last three years if we’re lucky. But it’s all just that culture.”

Brooks has also had plenty of success with songs that are a nod to that heritage, songs that he built his now-historic career on.

“We owe our careers to the men and women in the hats, from everything to ‘Much Too Young,’ ‘Rodeo,’ ‘Beaches of Cheyenne’ … all that stuff. The whole rodeo part, that’s the greatest thing. When we talk about ‘Friends in Low Places,’ it’s, who do you want in there? You want to weigh heavily on military families and we want to weigh heavy on rodeo families, because they’re just good people that just want to treat people like they want to be treated.”

Time Traveler is part of Brooks’ The Limited Series, available exclusively at Bass Pro Shops.