|"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool"|
|Single by Barbara Mandrell|
|from the album Barbara Mandrell Live|
|"A Woman's Got a Right (To Change His Mind)"|
|Released||April 16, 1981|
|Recorded||c. March 1981|
|Barbara Mandrell singles chronology|
"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" is a song written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan, recorded by American country music artist Barbara Mandrell. It was released in April 1981 as lead single from the album Barbara Mandrell Live. It featured an uncredited guest appearance by country artist George Jones. The song reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in July 1981 and peaked at #14 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart. The song was nominated for 1981 Single of the Year by both the CMA and ACM Awards organizations.
"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" was a song produced by Tom Collins. Mandrell recorded the song as a "live" performance; however the track was actually recorded in the studio with an audience applause track inserted over various sections of the song to fit into the context of the forthcoming live album. The song also featured an uncredited guest appearance on part of the chorus by country vocalist, George Jones. The song was released during a period of rapid growth in the popularity of country music related to a dance-focused form of the genre called neocountry that was popularized, in part, by the movie Urban Cowboy. In the song, the singer explains her relationship with country music as being authentic and part of long tradition, and not a part of some fad or, worse, something that's merely "cool."
The song was the first track released from Mandrell's 1981 "Live" album. Unlike the studio single version, the album version of the song was recorded during a live concert at the Roy Acuff Theater of Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee. Applause from the audience can be heard in the beginning and end of the song, as well as when Jones makes his guest performance and when Mandrell refers to Jones in the lyrics in the early part of the song.
"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" was released as Mandrell's second single of the year in mid 1981. The song became a major hit shortly after its release, reaching number one on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Songs chart on July 4 of that year. George Jones was never credited as a featured vocalist on the recording charts at the time of its release. It has since been considered to be one of Mandrell's signature recordings during her career. The single helped her 1981 live album, Barbara Mandrell Live certify gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and also helped her win the Country Music Association's "Entertainer of the Year" award in 1981.