|"Friends in Low Places"|
|Single by Garth Brooks|
|from the album No Fences|
|"Nobody Gets Off in This Town"|
|Released||August 6, 1990|
|Label||Capitol Nashville 44647|
|Garth Brooks singles chronology|
"Friends in Low Places"
"Friends in Low Places" is a song performed by American country music artist Garth Brooks. It was released on August 6, 1990 as the lead single from his album No Fences. The song spent four weeks at number one on the Hot Country Songs, and won both the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards for 1990 Single of the Year.
"Friends in Low Places" was written in 1989 by songwriters Earl Bud Lee and Dewayne Blackwell. The two songwriters had given the song to Brooks to record as a demo soon before the release of his self-titled first album, when he was a relatively unknown singer. Enamored with the song, Brooks recorded the official version the next year.
According to Earl Bud Lee, one of the song's co-writers, the idea of the song was born when he and some songwriting friends gathered for lunch one day at Tavern on the Row, a popular Nashville eatery. When the check came, Lee realized he had forgotten his money. He was asked how he was going to pay for the meal, and he replied, "Don't worry. I have friends in low places. I know the cook." Lee and his songwriting partner, Dewayne Blackwell, immediately recognized that the line "friends in low places" had potential, but they didn't act upon it immediately.
Some months later, Lee and Blackwell were at a party, celebrating a recent No. 1 hit by another songwriter. They began to talk about the dormant "friends in low places" idea, and "at that very moment, it all started to come together in a song," Lee said. Because nothing else was available, they wrote the song on paper napkins. When the songwriters polished "Friends in Low Places", they contacted Garth Brooks to see if he would record a demo for them.
"Friends in Low Places" is in a moderate tempo and the key of A major. The song begins with arpeggios on the chords A, B♭dim7, Bm7, and Eadd9, a pattern which is repeated throughout the verses. The intro was not originally part of the song, but was improvised by session guitarist Mark Casstevens. The chorus uses A-Bm-E twice before ending on an A chord. An electric guitar solo with pedal steel guitar flourishes is played between the first chorus and second verse.
"Friends in Low Places" requires an unusually wide vocal range spanning over two octaves to be sung properly. The song spans from a low note of E2 to a high of F♯4.
Lee and Blackwell had met Brooks when he was a shoe salesman in a Nashville store, looking for his big break. The two struck up a conversation with the struggling musician, and upon learning his background, they gave him some work making demos of their songs. They were impressed with his voice and talent, but there wasn't much else they could do for him.
When Blackwell contacted Brooks to make the "Friends in Low Places" demo, Brooks explained to Blackwell that he was newly signed to Capitol Records, and that his first single and first album were already scheduled.
The demo of "Friends in Low Places" was recorded at Windwalker Studios, in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. Musicians on the demo were John Beland (of The Flying Burrito Brothers) on acoustic and electric guitars, along with session aces Steve Turner on drums, and bassist Larry Paxton. Frank Green was the recording engineer. The actual master recording of "Friends in Low Places" borrowed quite a lot from the original demo, copying Beland's now famous acoustic guitar intro.
After recording the demo (the last he would ever make), Brooks thanked Lee and Blackwell for all of their help. He then expressed his liking for the song, wishing aloud that he had heard it several weeks earlier, when he was recording his new album.
Brooks provided the following background information on the song in the CD booklet liner notes from The Hits:
""Friends in Low Places" was the last demo session I ever did as a singer. The demo was for Bud Lee and Dewayne Blackwell. I sang the session out in Hendersonville, and for the next two 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 on to 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 Dewayne and Bud for believing in me." 
While Brooks claimed in the liner notes that "Friends in Low Places" was held for him, Mark Chesnutt also recorded it. His version appears on his 1990 debut album Too Cold at Home (released only a month after No Fences), and was the B-side to his late-1991 single "Broken Promise Land".
After the success of Brooks's eponymous debut album, he contacted the writers of "Friends in Low Places" to ask if the song was still available, and they said it was. In keeping with the raucous theme, a large contingent of backing vocalists accompanied Brooks as the chorus was repeated until a fadeout. Among the members of the group were Brooks's then-wife, Sandy, and both songwriters, Blackwell and Lee. At one point near the end of the song, one of the musicians opens a beer can, which is picked up by a microphone. When the album was being mastered, the sound of the beer can was originally mistaken for an audio glitch. Later on, one of the crowd members shouts "Push, Marie!" in reference to Garver, who was in the hospital while his wife was giving birth.
Recognizing the song's potential, producer Allen Reynolds, in consultation with Capitol Nashville president Jimmy Bowen, decided that Brooks's rendition was going to be the first single from his new album, No Fences. In July 1990, Brooks's mother, Colleen Carroll, inadvertently leaked the unreleased song to an Oklahoma radio station, setting off a frenzy and forcing the single and album to be rush-released.
Live album recording was made in Wichita, KS on the final night of 5 sold out shows, a Sunday night, November 16, 1997. Ticket demand was so high the Sunday night show was added and Low Places live version with the 3rd verse was recorded and went on the double disc live album. 
"Friends in Low Places" first entered the Hot Country Songs on August 18, 1990. It took only eight weeks to reach No. 1, where it remained there for four weeks until it was knocked off by "You Lie" performed by Reba McEntire. It was also one of the biggest hits of the year.
By then, the song was already causing a stir. Brooks told a reporter from USA Today in October 1990, when the song was still at its chart peak, that he had received letters from high school students saying that they wanted to use "Friends in Low Places" as their "class song," only to have it opposed by their principals because the song is about escaping into drinking. Brooks agreed with the principals, saying, "We've had a lot of fun with that song, but it's nothing to base your values on."
It made the top 40 on the UK Singles Chart in 1995 as a double-sided reissue hit with "The Dance". The song also appeared on Brooks's 1994 compilation The Hits. In 2003, the song was listed No. 6 on CMT 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music broadcast. and the No. 1 spot on the network's 40 Greatest Drinking Songs: Morning After.
Starting in 2008, "Friends in Low Places" became the traditional sing-along song during the sixth inning at Kansas City Royals home games at Kauffman Stadium. Garth Brooks has recorded dozens of different introductions to be played on the Jumbotron display before the start of the song.
...[H]e made songs that satisfied all the same needs as Bruce's did, except with a little less sincerity and a little better understanding of who his audience was. "Friends in Low Places" was as effective as pop music ever gets: It's a depressing song that makes you feel better. Singing along with that song was like drunkenly laughing at a rich person and knowing that you were right ... It's a song that makes me want to get drunk out of spite. Garth told stories about blue-collar people who felt good about what their bad life symbolized ...
The original version of "Friends in Low Places" has two verses. In 1991, Brooks added a "third verse" to the song in live performances. His spiel leading to the new verse claimed that he thought the song's original verse didn't reflect how he would really act in that situation. It is basically a rewrite of the second verse, with only the last few lines changed, culminating in "Just wait 'til I finish this glass / Then sweet little lady, I'll head back to the bar / And you can kiss my ass".
In September 2015, it was announced a new version of "Friends in Low Places" would be released on Brooks's 25th anniversary No Fences album. The song would feature George Strait, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, and Keith Urban singing along with Brooks. The 25th anniversary edition of the album was scrapped over royalty disputes, but the song appeared on Brooks' 2016 The Ultimate Collection box set.
US promotional 7" single Capitol Nashville, 1990
US promotional CD single Capitol Nashville DPRO-79217, 1990
US 7" single Capitol Nashville NR-44647, 1990
US 7" single (live) Liberty S7-57883, 1992
US promotional CD single (live) Liberty DPRO-79365, 1992
UK 7" single Capitol CL 609, 1991
UK CD single Capitol CDCL 609, 1991
The Netherlands CD single Capitol, 1995
"Friends in Low Places" entered the charts on August 18, 1990. It reached number one on October 6 and remained there for four consecutive weeks until it was knocked off by "You Lie" by Reba McEntire.
|Canada Country Tracks (RPM)||1|
|Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)||89|
|Irish Singles Chart||3|
|Scottish Singles Chart||31|
|UK Singles Chart||36|
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||1|